Oxford

Oxford youth workers to strike over job cuts

Youth workers in Oxfordshire have announced they will strike in protest at jobs cuts in the county.

It is understood about 80 jobs are at risk as the Conservative-run county council makes savings of £119m.

Unite members described the situation as "dire" and are planning to stage a series of one day walkouts from 23 August.

The council said it was working towards providing "a continuing high level of youth provision" despite the cuts.

Of the 26 council run youth centres, 13 will continue to receive council funding, nine will remain open with money from a Big Society fund set up by the council and discussions are being held over the future of the remaining four.

The plans are to merge the Youth Service with several other independent operations to form a new Early Intervention Service, saving the council about £4m.

The merged service will include the Youth Offending Team, Connexions careers advice and officers linked to absenteeism in schools and substance misuse.

But Mike Beal, who chairs the community and youth workers union said about 430 staff have been sent a letter notifying them that their job is going to be "deleted."

He added: "The job title of youth worker has gone, our identity has been stripped and the philosophy that brought many into the process has gone."

It is expected staff will be asked to reapply for a smaller number of posts.

A council spokesman said it hopes to find ways forward for all 26 of the youth centres, whether they remain in the council's hands or not.

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