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Workers to go on strike over unsociable hours change

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Workers in a secure children’s home and in two local authority care homes will go on strike this Saturday over changes to rates for working unsociable hours.

South Gloucestershire council is planning to change contracts for staff who work on weekends and nights from October alongside the introduction of the living wage for all staff.

Unison claims pay rates will be cut by 33% and the council wants to make Saturday a “normal working day”.

In addition, those who work at night, face losing up to 10% of their pay, with some losing substantially more depending on work patters, the union states.

However, a spokesperson for South Gloucestershire denied they were trying to make Saturday a normal working day.

“But for those workers where it is already part of their contract we have reviewed and revised the entitlements.

“As for working in the evenings, we’re simply clarifying how overnight is defined. So where a shift finishes in the evening or starts in the morning then it will no longer be classed as overnight.”

The workers who will go on strike include residential care staff in the Vinney Green Secure Unit for Children, who earn around £21,000 per year, as well as care assistants and other staff in the two local authority elderly people’s homes.

South Gloucestershire UNISON branch secretary Huw Williams said 190 members had voted overwhelmingly for strike action over the changes which would mean, on average, a 10-11% pay cut for workers.

“These staff carry out work that is demanding, low paid and vital to the local community. For these staff to be treated with the contempt of a 10% pay cut when they are already facing massive reductions in living standards, because of the public sector wage freeze, is dreadful.”

He said UNISON had requested a meeting with the council before the start of the ballot, but this was refused.

“Obviously we’re worried that if they succeed in pushing this through then it sets a precedent for other staff such as hospital social workers to have their enhanced pay on weekends cut.”

 

About Ruth Smith, editor

Ruth Smith is editor of Community Care. She won New Editor of the Year 2013 at the PPA New Talent Awards. When not at work she enjoys cooking, gardening and dress making.

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