A LEADING union has slammed the potential axing of 104 school support staff jobs as ‘cynical and disgraceful’.
Bosses from GMB, which represents school support staff, spoke out after engineeering giant Babcock International revealed plans to slash 104 roles across the county.
The firm revealed their intentions last Thursday (October 22) just weeks after winning the contract to provide Worcestershire County Council’s ‘Learning and Achievement’ services after it was out-sourced by chiefs at County Hall.
In a further twist, bosses at County Hall are now embroiled in a further war of words after they claimed they ‘were not made aware in advance of Babcock’s proposals’ – a claim Babcock strongly refute.
Babcock International was awarded a contract covering 391 workers in school support roles at the start of October.
But according to GMB, job losses will not only affect members but also the schools, parents, teachers and the children especially those with special needs.
A consultation on the redundancies is now underway and is due to finish on December 6.
The jobs under threat include admin workers, teachers for disabled pupils and early years schooling.
Justine Jones, GMB Regional Officer, said “It is unacceptable that only weeks after Worcestershire Council handed over the ‘Learning and Achievement’ function to a private company, that they are about to make 104 people redundant.
“GMB opposed this outsourcing from the very beginning. We said at the time that jobs were under threat but this was denied by the council.
“This was cynical and disgraceful as Worcestershire County Council was well aware of these job losses were on the cards when they awarded this contract to Babcock International.
“The council have washed their hands of these workers and the valuable work they do,” she added.
Coun John Campion, the cabinet member for children and families, said: “We expect a close working professional relationship with our commissioned partners and unfortunately this hasn’t been reflected in this instance.
“Staffing structure is clearly their decision but I want to reassure residents that it’s not classroom teachers that are affected by this, and young people will still be receiving the appropriate level of support they need.
“We are committed to ensuring improved educational outcomes for our children and young people and will be holding Babcock to account for delivering this in a way that they see fit.”
“As a council the education and the safeguarding of our children in Worcestershire is of paramount importance to us,” he added.
A Babcock International spokesman said: “We want to reassure residents that the quality of services will be delivered to the same standard and we are committed to ensuring that.
“We are in regular consultation with the council and at this stage cannot comment in detail as we have only just begun this process.
“But services will remain unaffected and we are working with staff on the options,” he added.