Say NO to a deterioration of your service conditions!
Reject the Council’s latest final offer!
By A Trade Union Shop Steward
All the trade unions in Leeds City Council’s collective agreement will be balloting all their members on its latest final offer as part of its 3 year cuts package. Last year, the Labour-led Council accepted as much as £90 million pounds worth of cuts, which resulted in over a thousand staff members took voluntary redundancy through its Early Leavers Initiative. This year, the Council has cut as much as £55 million that sees many services with much reduced budgets and therefore less resources to meet the needs of those that depend on them.
The Council has longed for pushing through attacks on service conditions that sees an inferior Managing Workforce Change (MWC) policy to the existing one. MWC is a policy that covers redeployment issues. It will effectively change the time period a staff member enters MWC – reducing the period a staff member is in redeployment. This is an underhanded way of making redundancies. With reduced staff pressures on services there will be fewer posts to fill. It also wants to erode the pay-protection period were staff are matched posts within a lower pay grade.
As part of the offer the employer has put on the table a mixture of conditions and sweeteners that will affect some and not others. For example, it wants a Christmas closedown that will request staff to use up three days of their annual leave to achieve it. For those who have had to work bank holiday Tuesdays in the last three years they are offering an additional holiday – to be taken at Christmas, whilst at the same time offering them £100 to accept. And for those in the lowest pay grade; Band A, they are offering a one off payment of up to £100!
This offer if accepted will affect the most vulnerable amongst our members – the lowest paid and those under pressure and demoralised due to work. Our members, many of whom are very loyal to the services we provide everyday, have seen many changes that are detrimental to our working lives – less staff means an increasing workload that increases pressure and sickness levels.
There are many other cuts that are being carried out all around us often without any real consultation throughout the Council. Adult Social Care services are bearing the brunt of cuts especially adult day care centres.
In recent debates many Unison activists have poured scorn over the Council’s proposals – They have come out of a year-long negotiation process with the Unions and were put across to us as the best we could achieve in the current economic climate. Whilst activist showed little stomach for accepting, delegates in the debates did not feel confident to mandate the Branch to encourage members to reject in the ballot. Instead they opted to be neutral and ask the members what they want to do.
This shows that activists are certainly being more vocal about the pressures they and their members face. Therefore those who want to avoid an inevitable battle in this period of uncertainty have less room for manoeuvre, after all, we have passed a motion to defend jobs and services at our AGM this year that is now a Branch policy. The campaign to reject the offer starts now.