PROTEST: Workers outside Lambeth Council housing department HQ
A RACE row over job cuts at Lambeth Council is looming after a union claimed nearly three quarters of black workers in the housing department are at risk of losing their jobs.
Public service trade union, UNISON, slammed senior officers at Lambeth Council, claiming officials are going ahead with a restructuring exercise although the council’s equality impact assessment results show the proposed job cuts “will hit black workers hardest of all.”
Union representatives claim 73 percent of black and minority ethnic staff in Lambeth Council’s Housing department are at risk of redundancy, compared with less than half (45 percent) of white staff.
UNISON convenor, Hassina Malik warned: “Reorganisation proposals which only reduce the total number of jobs by a handful unnecessarily threaten more than a hundred workers with redundancy and the Council’s own ‘equality impact assessment’ admits that the impact on black staff is ‘extremely statistically significant’. Three quarters of all black staff are at risk of redundancy, compared to less than half of white staff.”
Malik added: “The first thing that Housing management did was to try to start consulting staff about job losses without releasing the ‘equality impact assessment’.
However, “once we saw the assessment we could see why. It is not acceptable for Lambeth Council to press ahead with a restructure which they can see is discriminating against black workers,” the union representative said.
Lambeth Council has rejected the claims. A spokesperson told The Voice: “This claim is extremely misleading and wrong. Lambeth has got one of the best track records in the UK for hiring, promoting and retaining black and minority ethnic staff, working in partnership with trade unions.”
According to the council’s spokesperson, "we are committed to putting equality and fairness at the heart of everything we do.”
Despite the council’s denial of the claims, it did not stop some workers from protesting against the restructuring exercise outside Lambeth Housing department headquarters last week (November 9). Another protest was planned for yesterday (November 14) on the steps of Lambeth Town Hall, as part of the European TUC Day of Action, where general strikes were planned for several European countries.
“We’re not putting up with proposals which discriminate against black workers and create additional senior management posts,” said Malik. “We will be protesting as often, and as noisily, as we need to in order to stop this.”