Unison calls for strike action against South Gloucestershire Council's 'savage attack' on staff wages
A UNION is to call for a strike in protest of what it has branded as South Gloucestershire Council's "savage attack" on staff wages.
A ballot of nearly 190 South Gloucestershire UNISON members has resulted in an overwhelming vote to take industrial action against the local authority's plans to cut employees' Saturday pay rates by 33 per cent starting next month .
From October 1, South Gloucestershire Council intends to impose new contracts on staff stating that Saturday will now be regarded as a "normal working day". Changes will also apply to allowances granted for night-time shifts.
Staff's total wages could be slashed by up to ten per cent, according to the union, with some having "substantially more to lose, depending on work patterns".
Huw Williams, South Gloucestershire UNISON branch secretary, said the union would fight for justice and prevent the local authority from "scapegoating" staff.
"The results of this industrial action ballot show the depth of anger our members feel at having a massive reduction in their wages," he said.
"These staff carry out work which is demanding, low paid and vital to the local community. "For these staff to be treated with the contempt of a ten per cent pay cut at the same time as the wage freeze for the public sector over the last four years is dreadful.
"UNISON approached the council before the start of the ballot process requesting a meeting with councillors to discuss the dispute but this request was refused.
"Our members are determined to fight for justice and to ensure the council stop scapegoating lower paid workers."
The workers balloted included library assistants, who earn around £16,000 per year, residential care staff in Vinney Green Secure Unit for Children, whose wages reach around £21,000, care assistants and employees at the two elderly people’s homes and civic enforcement officers.
All these groups, the union said, already earn significantly below less than the national average and are facing a significant drop in living standards, having received a single one per cent pay rise over the last four years.
South Gloucestershire Councils said in a report the move would improve equality and fairness toward employees.
When Northavon and Kingswood authorities merged to form South Gloucestershire Council, some staff as per their contract, agreed with their respective council, received allowances to work during weekends while other did not.
This prompted the council to finally abolish what it saw as an unfair system and withdraw these privileges altogether.
Dates and details for planned industrial action, and for a short of strike, are yet to be released.
South Gloucestershire Council was not available for comment.
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