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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 February 2014

Preparing action in Lewisham

Unite members employed by Lewisham council in the Attendance and Welfare Service are preparing for strike action.

The south London council is planning to cut the service by an additional 300,000, having already cut it by 200,000. The staffing will be reduced from 22 to 12.

The frontline service works hard to battle school truancy - and it has done so successfully. The impact of the cut will be drastic.

Early intervention, acknowledged by professionals as the best method of dealing with truancy, will disappear. Instead, there will be an overwhelming reliance on prosecution.

The council is proposing that schools buy the service in from existing budgets. It plans to make the staffing reductions and have its model in place before any schools have expressed an interest.

In consultation meetings, the employer has admitted that schools are "uncertain", "still at the thinking stage", "not committing themselves" and that most worryingly there is no assumption that there would be a lot of buy-in from schools.

The end result will be a disaster for truancy levels across the borough, with a real impact on young people and the resultant social problems that follow.

Unite members in the service have now voted to be balloted for strike action. Over the next few days, Unite will be issuing the council with the required legal notice of a strike ballot.

The union is confident, following consultation with members, that there will be a large majority for strike action.

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In The Socialist 5 February 2014:


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