Social services staff could lose jobs in contract dispute

More than 1,000 social services staff at Derbyshire council will
lose their jobs if they refuse to accept new contracts which, their
union claims, will see some members lose up to £2,000 a year,
writes Paul Humphries.

The move is part of the local government `single status’
agreement which was intended to address long-standing anomalies
between the working conditions of manual and non-manual

The council wants to stop paying unsocial hours and weekend
rates to staff who are off sick, abolish sleep-in pay for managers
in homes for older people and re-grade night care assistants.

In future, most sick pay will be based on the minimum weekly
contracted hours worked, and not the average hours which have been
worked in previous weeks.

The changes will affect about 1,150 staff employed as unit and
deputy unit managers, night care assistants, day care assistants,
cooks, kitchen assistants, domestic staff and relief staff.

Anne Western, Derbyshire council’s cabinet member for
health and social care, said that after the introduction of the
37-hour week nearly three years ago, the social services wages bill
rose by 5.4 per cent. The £1.1 million shortfall needed to be
covered, and the new working arrangements would help pay for

“There has been a long consultation over this whole issue with
the unions involved, and naturally we were hoping this could be
agreed on by all parties, but unfortunately this has not been the
case. Staff will be asked to sign new contracts agreeing to the
changes, and we are hoping they will all do this,” she said.

A spokesperson for the authority later confirmed that staff who
did not sign the new contracts would lose their jobs.

Derbyshire council’s Unison assistant secretary Ann MacMillan
Wood said: “It was implicit as part of the national single status
agreement that the costs of cutting hours were not to be offset
against pay and other working conditions. But the council has
quoted the impact of this agreement as their official reason for
blackmailing workers into accepting worse conditions of service or
being sacked.”

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