UNISON members working for Your Choice Barnet (YCB) have just announced their next strike dates as being 22nd and 23rd January. In addition the workers will be attending an event in the House of Commons 28th January highlighting the conditions for workers in this sector. This will make a total of 6 days of strike action since the dispute began. This is in a bid to reverse the harsh 9.5% pay cut imposed on them by their employer.
UNISON and YCB have had numerous meetings at ACAS and there has been no improved offer which has come close to being acceptable to the majority of workers. The latest offer made in October 2014, was a 7.9% pay cut and this was resoundingly rejected in a ballot of the membership. The discussions have, however, revealed stark issues imposed on YCB by Barnet Council which make it difficult to see how YCB can survive financially into the future without the workers constantly bailing it out through their financial sacrifice. The pensions’ deficit (an extra 9.8% payment) for the TUPE’d staff was transferred across to YCB, although this did not happen with other contracts in the private sector. Relieving YCB of the pensions’ deficit would restore members’ pay at one stroke. Not allowing YCB to charge for unplanned “no-shows” (when service users are unable to attend the service at short notice) would potentially halve the pay cut to members. However, Barnet Council refuses to participate in any discussions although ultimately the Council holds the purse strings.
Meanwhile members complaine that they are working harder than ever with increasing levels of stress and no prospect of a pay rise. They report the first day they have off from work is used simply to recover from the stressful week they have had. The pay cut has left many of members finding it particularly hard to make ends meet. They have made it clear they want to see a substantial shift in any new proposals from YCB in order to end the dispute.
UNISON Branch Secretary John Burgess said:
“Our members held back from taking action before Christmas in order not to disrupt the service for service users and their carers at such a sensitive time of the year. This demonstrates again their professionalism and dedication but also their determination to stand up to attacks on their terms and conditions.”
22 & 23 Picket Line details
- Flower Lane Day Centre 41 Flower Lane Barnet London NW7 2JN
- Rosa Morrison Day Centre
83 Gloucester Road Totteridge Barnet London EN5 1NA
The start times are 7.30am to 12noon