Council defends cuts to overtime and car allowances

Unison officials met today to discuss taking further industrial action against Cheshire West and Chester Council over changes to staff terms and conditions, including cuts to overtime pay for social care workers.

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Unison officials met today to discuss taking further industrial action against Cheshire West and Chester Council over changes to staff terms and conditions, including cuts to overtime pay for social care workers.

This action would be the latest in a string of protests against the cuts, which the council says will protect frontline jobs and save around £3.9 million per year.

The new contracts were designed to harmonise the terms and conditions of staff, who were brought together from four different councils when Cheshire West and Cheshire was made a unitary authority in 2009.

The changes include cuts to overtime rates and the removal of a £1,200 lump sum for essential car users. Staff who refused to sign the new contracts by 1 April were dismissed from their employment at the council.

Unison’s members went on strike over the Easter bank holiday in protest at the changes and last week lobbied councillors in an attempt to reopen negotiations.

“We’re concerned that frontline staff such as social workers and care home workers – who work the weekends and night shifts – seem to have been targeted,” said Maria Moss, regional organiser for Unison.

Unison claims the Tory-led council had an opportunity to negotiate over new proposals before the Easter strike, but refused.

Councillor Alan McKie responded: “The unions only started to come to the table with real proposals once 97% of the staff had decided to sign up to the new terms. As far as the committee was concerned, this was too little, too late.”

He also accused unions of refusing to accept that money had to be saved. Cheshire West and Chester says it has to save more than £38m over the next four years.

Moss said Unison was only “reluctantly” considering further industrial action and would seek help from the conciliation service Acas to resolve the dispute.

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