Equality and human rights workers in Birmingham are to take to the streets in a protest strike at plans to cut 200 posts across the UK.
Unite and PCS members will be taking part in an hour-long stoppage on Monday in anger at proposals to slash the number of full-time posts at the Equality and Human Rights Commission from over 450 to between 200 and 250 by April 2012.
Staff in Birmingham will leave their desks from 11.30am in a walkout from the city’s Newhall Street offices in protest at the planned cutbacks.
Unite regional officer Richard Munn said: “We believe that the driving force behind these proposed cuts is the desire to turn the EHRC into a think-tank and move away from giving frontline help in a very practical way to those facing dfiscrimination, as well as human rights breaches in their many forms.
“Plans are afoot to close regional offices, and the helpline and grants function are under threat as well. The senior management has shown itself to be very wary in discussing their plans with the unions in a constructive fashion.
“Senior managers have also not given any guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies. The whole original ethos of the EHRC, when it was set up in 2006, is being pawed over by expensive external consultants.
“The public should be worried about the direction the EHRC is taking.”
Birmingham-based PCS regional secretary Andrew Lloyd revealed last month that the Commission’s office in the city was facing an uncertain future amid increasing public sector cutbacks.
He said: “It is the case that the EHRC will be needed even more in Birmingham, where we have a multi-cultural society with over a third of the city from an ethnic background who need support, advice and guidance.
“The EHRC will be important to Birmingham in many ways as the public sector cuts begin to take real effect with community organisations ceasing to exist, thus removing support and advice.”