Socialist Worker

Anger mounts against single status attacks

Issue No. 2040

Southampton care workers on strike (Pic: Southampton Unison)

Southampton care workers on strike (Pic: Southampton Unison)


Southampton

Southampton care worker Lynda Miller works night shifts looking after the elderly. It’s a job she has done for more than 30 years. Southampton City Council has now cut her pay by £5,600 a year.

Lynda’s wage is due to fall from £17,625 to £12,323. She said about her decision to take strike action over this attack, “My basic pay has been protected for 12 months but at the end of that time I face a massive pay cut.”

“I’m 58 and I feel I’m too old to retrain – besides I love what I do. I’m not militant by nature but I just had to take a stand – I had to do it.

“It is just wrong what the council is doing to us. My pension has been affected by this as well.”

Lynda signed a new contract that means she is no longer paid for working unsocial hours but she explained she felt she had no choice. Five care workers refused to sign the contracts and were sacked last week.

The care workers in the Unison union, who have struck on two previous occasions against the attacks, were meeting on Tuesday of this week to decide whether to take further strike action over the cuts.


Coventry

Library workers in Coventry have voted by 92 percent to 8 percent to reject council proposals to reorganise their working conditions.

The consultative ballot of Unison union members took place as the council said it was not prepared to negotiate with the union.

Vince Butler from Coventry Unison said, “We want proper negotiations with the council, not just consultation.

“This is vital if we are to protect not just our members but the quality of the library service.

“We will take action if we have to in order to get our employers to talk to us.

“Yet again, the council is failing to talk to us properly over serious issues that affect our members.”

Library and information assistants were told in a document issued at the beginning of February that “if existing staff do not apply for the new posts we will have to recruit from outside”.

Library workers are also facing the imposition of other unilateral changes to their contract as a result of the single status pay agreement.

Support staff at a Coventry primary school struck for a second time last week.

Teaching assistants, clerical workers and secretaries in the Unison union at Holbrook primary school struck for three days in protest at the council’s imposition of the single status pay deal.


Walsall

Up to 2,500 workers at Walsall council are set to go on strike over the authority’s plans to axe 83 jobs.

More than 70 percent of Unison union members voted in favour of industrial action.

The union has given the council 28 days notice of strike action.

Unison branch secretary Reg Evans said, “This is a clear message from our members to Walsall council that we will not sit idly by and allow our colleagues’ jobs to be taken away.”


Shetland Islands

This week the Shetland Islands council sent out letters to 3,200 workers outling its single status pay plans.

Unison, the largest union in the council, said more than 50 percent of staff will suffer under the proposals, which they describe as “one of the worst deals in the country”.

The union is urging its 900 members to reject the council’s offer in a ballot on 7 March.

Unison branch chair Brian Smith said, “Single status should help people who have been miserably paid in the past, but not at the expense of other people, including poorly paid clerical staff who are going to suffer badly from this.”

Some staff will see their hourly rate fall by more than 25 percent.

Under a local agreement negotiated in the 1970s, white collar staff work a 34-hour week while they are paid for a full 37 hours.

Under the new arrangements they will have to work all the hours for which they are paid, effectively lowering their current hourly rate.

The union has had to put in a freedom of information request to find out the current and proposed hourly rates for all staff affected by single status.


Falkirk

More than 1,000 workers went on strike last week against pay cuts of over £1,500 a year for some of the lowest paid staff at Falkirk council, Scotland.

Workers in the GMB and T&G unions are opposing the Scottish National Party run council’s move to impose its single status contract on staff. Falkirk council issued around 5,000 workers with new contracts on 18 December – the day many of those in the Unison and GMB unions came out on strike in protest.

The industrial action hit the council’s care homes as well as the street cleaning and rubbish collection services.

Members of the Unison union were not called out on strike.

An indefinite overtime ban is also in currently in force. The next strike days action are 9, 12 and 13 March.


Bolton

Bolton Council ran up a £7 million bill in just three years on consultants. At the same time, it is making £11 million worth of cuts this year.

The council spent £90,000 bringing in consultants to tell it how to “rebrand” the city.

Phil Roberts from the GMB union said, “It is an amazing amount. I am very concerned that the council is spending this amount when it is supposed to be strapped for cash.”


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News
Sat 3 Mar 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2040
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