Council workers in South Glos may strike over pay cuts

unisonWorkers at South Gloucestershire Council could go on strike in a row over pay cuts which Unison says could see some of its members up to £1,600 a year worse off.

Councillors recently voted to press ahead with cuts to pay and allowances from 1st October 2013, despite Unison arguing the hardship this would cause for a range of lower paid staff, particularly women, who have to work on Saturdays as part of their normal working week.

The staff affected by the proposals work in libraries, homes for the elderly, the rapid response home care team, civil enforcement (parking), community meals, and at the Vinney Green Secure Unit.

Unison says the main cuts are to Saturday enhancement payments of time-and-a-half for those whose normal working week includes a Saturday, or for staff who have worked less than 37 hours between Monday and Saturday; it is also proposed to end time-and-a-third payments for hours worked between 8pm and 6am as part of a normal working week, unless the hours included a period between midnight and 5am.

The union says some staff will lose between £700 and £1,600 a year.

An indicative ballot was held among affected members to gauge the level of support for action. Cherryll West, Unison branch chair, said that there was a turnout of 65 per cent, of which 86 per cent voted in favour of strike action or work to rule. It will now go to a formal ballot.

A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: “Following a lengthy review which included feedback from trade unions, service managers and staff consultations, councillors have approved proposals for changes to staff enhancements and allowances. These changes will be implemented from October 2013.

“The review began in January and forms part of the council’s wider programme to assess how we are organised and how services are provided. Like all local authorities, we face intense financial pressures and it is vital that we make sure that every pound of funding is spent wisely and effectively.”