JOINT TRADE UNIONS PRESS RELEASE
Date: 8th Feb 2012
Trade unions will ballot members on Aberdeenshire’s pay cut proposals
Trade unions will ballot their members on Aberdeenshire Council’s plans to slash the terms and conditions of its workers. UNISON, GMB, UCATT and UNITE have condemned the council’s proposals and have called on their members to reject these in ballots to be held later this month.
While all staff will be affected, the unions have warned that cuts to overtime and unsocial hours payments will hit those who deliver essential front line services and low paid, mainly women, workers hardest.
Inez Teece, UNISON Branch Secretary said, “We are particularly concerned that the biggest impact of these unjustified cuts to terms and conditions will be felt by low paid, predominantly female, workers in front line jobs who rely on the unsocial hours enhancements and overtime to make a living wage in the most expensive part of Scotland to live. These are the very people who deliver essential front line services, often to our most vulnerable citizens.
“Now that our members have seen these proposals they are very worried. Many are telling us that they will lose up to a fifth of their pay if they go through.
“One of our members who works 30 hours a week, including two weekends out of three, as a domestic in a care home providing care for our vulnerable older people has worked out that she will lose around £1,600 out of a pay of just over £12,000 a year. That is a pay cut for the council’s poorest paid staff of around 13%.
“Another member who works as an Assistant Manager stands to lose £6,000 from a salary of around £30,000. That is one-fifth of her income gone. That can’t be right,” Inez added.
“And this is on top of the real terms pay cut of around 10% over the last two years as a result of the pay freeze combined with inflation and the ever increasing cost of living.”
Janet Adams of the GMB added, “We believe that these proposals are discriminatory, particularly against low paid women. However, despite our requests, the council has not provided the trade unions with detailed information on the impact on particular groups, or the amount of savings that each proposal represents.
“We have told the council that these proposals are unfair, unnecessary and unjustified. The council says it will save £5 million after four years. However, the council has already made savings of £5 million this year on the back of our members who have carried on providing services to the people of Aberdeenshire whilst dealing with the stress of service reviews, job regradings and job loss, redeployments and vacancy control. We say, enough is enough.”
Tommy Campbell of Unite warned, “The council says that evening and weekend working is now regarded as part of the normal working week and therefore shouldn’t attract any special payments. They say that its terms and conditions are still better than many employers in the private sector. Well, which employers do they mean?
“Do they mean the worst employers in the retail and care sectors who give no recognition to the disruption to family and social life through working unsocial hours to provide essential services?
“Aberdeenshire Council says it wants to be an exemplary employer of choice. It shouldn’t be seeking to ape the worst employers – it should be setting the standard for all employers in Aberdeenshire. Weekends are very special to workers, their families and friends and thus should be recognised by employers with special premium payments for those workers who give up their weekends away from their families to provide essential public services.”
Steven Dillon of UCATT added, "Workers and their families have had enough cuts. As unions we will do everything we can to protect, preserve and enhance terms and conditions of employment for our members.
“With almost 70p in every pound earned by public service workers being spent in local shops and businesses that are already feeling the pinch, you don't have to be a mathematician to know that pay cuts will affect the whole local economy, not just council workers".