Date: 2nd March 2012
UNISON calls on council to rethink as members reject cuts plans
UNISON members have voted overwhelmingly to reject Aberdeenshire Council’s planned cuts to term and conditions. On a 45% return, a massive 92% gave a resounding NO to the council’s plans.
UNISON has now called on the council to rethink these plans and to get back round the negotiating table.
Inez Teece, Branch Secretary said, “UNISON has warned the council that these cuts to terms and conditions are unfair, unjustified and counterproductive. They are targeting front-line staff, most of them women, who provide essential and emergency services to the people of Aberdeenshire. Some of them stand to lose up to a quarter of their salary.
“The council had an underspend of £11 million last year, yet still they are planning to cut the wages of their lowest paid staff to make a saving of just over £5 million. And this on top of a wage freeze, which is a real terms pay cut, at a time when the cost of food and fuel is spiralling. We think that there are other ways that the council could save this money, without hitting already hard pressed staff.
“Our low paid members are extremely worried, upset and downright angry that, yet again, they and they people they work to support, are bearing the brunt of the budget cuts. Morale is at rock bottom,” said Inez.
At a series of well attended meetings, angry and upset members, many of them low paid women, spoke of the impact the proposals would have on their livelihoods and on the services they provide, often to the most vulnerable, including children and the elderly in residential care and at home. Many of these members did not want to be named.
A carer in a residential home for older people said, “The cut in pay is so unfair, we work hard to look after old people 24/7. We work all hours when managers are home with their family and their feet up. We should never be worse off than we were 3 years ago. The price of everything has gone up but not our pay for doing the same job. We have more work now because residents are poorer before they now come into our home. The work load is much heavier and (there is) far more responsibility as carers now hand out drugs for the residents whereas before it was the manager,(and we have) more work on care plans.”
Another told us, “Shift allowance basically makes up 1/3 of my wages and I currently also receive weekend and night enhancements. Should these payments be removed or reduced it will force me to look for alternative employment. This is because the cost of basic living costs are continuing to rise and it is already very difficult to make ends meet at present with the pay freeze. When on early shift I am up a 3.30am to enable me to get to work on time. I also have a 25 minute car journey each way that I don’t get paid for. I feel all employees are experiencing an increase in roles, responsibilities and work loads off their own backs without payment.”
Another member said, “I work part-time 18.2 hours , three weekends out of five. Losing £2,743 per year and shall put myself and daughter into hardship as I am a single parent, never thought it would come to this.”
Members unaffected at this stage also spoke of their outrage at the impact the plans will have on their colleagues and their fears that if the council can get away with this it will only be a matter of time before everyone is expected to work 24/7 with no recompense.