More strike action on the horizon after ‘paltry’ pay offer is rejected

Striking staff outside Vinney Green last month

Striking staff outside Vinney Green last month

Unison members have rejected an offer from South Gloucestershire Council that would have resolved a long-running dispute over the removal of payments for Saturday working. 

Affected Unison members have been taking days of strike action since late September in protest against the cuts which have seen some of them losing more than 10 per cent of their pay.

Last week the workers, who include library staff, care staff in elderly people’s homes, staff at the Vinney Green Secure Unit, and civil enforcement officers, voted to reject an offer of a short-term buyout payment in return for giving up the Saturday payments.

Unison branch secretary Huw Williams said: “At a time when energy prices, accommodation costs, food prices and transport costs are rising, it is an insult that South Gloucestershire Council are reducing the pay of some of their lowest paid workers.

“The council have offered a paltry amount in compensation and after considering this offer, our members have rejected it. It is time that the South Gloucestershire Council actually listened to what their staff are telling them.

“This unjust move to save a relatively small amount of cash will hit workers extremely hard, not just now, but for years to come.

“We are prepared to talk to the council to try to resolve the dispute but unfortunately our members will be taking further strike action unless a serious offer is made, one that recognises the difficulty people are facing as a result of rising prices and stagnant wages.”

Cherryll West, the chair of the South Gloucestershire Unison branch, added: “The money our members are losing may seem small to some in the council but it will push families to make very hard decisions about how they spend their already low pay. ‘Heating or eating’ isn’t just a catchphrase; it’s a decision more and more people are having to make, but Unison members here have said enough is enough.

“We are willing to get back around the negotiating table but the council really do have to take our members seriously and come up with a decent new offer.”

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “We are very disappointed that Unison members have rejected our robust offer, given the huge amount of effort which has gone in to trying to reach an agreement on this issue.”