South Gloucestershire council staff vote to strike

A ballot of nearly 190 UNISON members at South Gloucestershire Council has resulted in an overwhelming vote to take industrial action over attacks on their wages.

On 1 October 2013, the council intends to impose new contracts on staff who have to work weekends, cutting pay rates for Saturday working by 33%. The council says that Saturday should now be regarded as a “normal working day”.

In addition, it plans to change allowances for working at night. Many workers face losing up to 10% of their pay and some will lose substantially more, depending on work patterns.

“The results of this industrial action ballot show the depth of anger our members feel at having a massive reduction in their wages,” said South Gloucestershire UNISON branch secretary Huw Williams.

“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, at the same time as the wage freeze for the public sector over the last four years, is dreadful.”

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

“Our members are determined to fight for justice and to ensure the council stop scapegoating lower-paid workers,” said Mr Williams

The workers who were balloted included library assistants, who earn around £16,000 a year full time; residential care staff in Vinney Green Secure Unit for Children, who earn around £21,000; care assistants and other staff in the two local authority elderly people’s homes, and civic enforcement officers.

All these groups earn significantly below national average earnings and are already facing massive reductions in real living standards, having only received a single 1% pay rise during the last four years.

Dates and details for planned industrial action, and for action short of strike, will be revealed in due course.

UNISON South West

You can follow UNISON South Gloucestershire Council on Twitter @unisonsouthglos

Key issue: Local government pay