UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

4 Day Easter weekend strike in Cheshire West & Chester Council

In an escalation of the long running dispute over imposed cuts in pay and conditions at Cheshire West and Chester Council, all UNISON members have been called to strike from 6 April 2012 to 9 April 2012 inclusive. Those on strike include library staff, home care workers, housing network staff, civil enforcement officers, park rangers, central control officers, CCTV officers, streetscene operatives, children's home staff, social workers and family support workers.

GMB and Unite members are also taking part in the action. The Council's threat of an injunction to stop the strike was resisted by the union in the days leading up to Good Friday.

UNISON refuted claims that the union was putting vulnerable clients at risk by refusing to grant some members exemptions from the strike action:  http://www.unisonnw.org.uk/news/newsitem.asp?ID=345

Maria Moss, UNISON Regional Organiser said: "UNISON has attempted to resolve this dispute by making new proposals to the Council using ACAS. This is the second or third time that the Council have rejected an opportunity to resolve the whole dispute.

"The Council would have you believe that staff have willingly accepted the changes to terms and conditions. This is utter nonsense. Staff had a choice between signing up to the changes or being sacked. I would suggest that this bullying approach has ruined what little morale was left amongst staff."

The proposed changes mean that staff have to work weekends, overtime and most bank holidays for flat rate pay. Shamelessly the Council has been offering strikebreakers double time across the whole bank holiday weekend as well as flouting the law by engaging agency workers to cover for strikers.

Premium payments for night work are to be reduced and payments for shifts, including split shifts, are to end. In addition staff who provide their own car for work, including the transportation of clients and equipment, face having their allowances severely reduced despite these rates being independently calculated and agreed nationally by Local Authority Employers.

Previous industrial action includes a three hour strike on 14 February 2012, strike action in libraries on 24 and 31 March 2012 and withdrawal of cars from 21 March to 11 April.