Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/622/9457
Nottingham city council: Shocking new cuts!
Nottingham City council has launched a huge attack on its workforce, hiding behind 'single status' to attack the conditions and pay of over 8,000 council workers.
Many staff were shocked when they learnt of their new pay grades last week, including some admin workers whose pay had suddenly dropped a grade with no warning.
Jean Thorpe, Nottingham East Socialist Party
Social workers in child protection, fostering and adoption expressed outrage at how they are being treated, in particular when there are such massive recruitment and retention problems in this part of the workforce.
Many staff were angered by the hours they are being expected to work. Those who currently work standard office hours are being expected to commit to working within a very wide 6am to 8pm working band.
They fear the possible impact on travel to work as well as child and dependant care arrangements.
Of concern to the whole workforce is the proposed change to the current sick pay scheme. The council currently signs up to the 'Green Book' which contains many nationally negotiated working conditions.
The council now plans to cap maximum sick pay entitlements to three months full pay, three months half pay.
This appears to signify the council's plan to move away from national arrangements and will have wider implications as other councils could try to follow suit.
This attack alone should prompt a huge response from the local government trade unions at a national level.
Other attacks include changes to car mileage rates, ending of a split shift allowance and attempts to restrict the ability of the trade unions to negotiate on behalf of employees.
The council are linking these attacks to single status compensation (backdated pay for those staff whose pay is going up) and to pay protection (where employees are facing a pay cut).
Unless employees expecting compensation or pay protection (60% of the workforce) sign up to these changes, this money will not be paid.
Employees who sign up will have to sign legal documents dropping other claims they may have against the council.
This is effectively putting a gun to the head of those employees.
An impossibly short timescale has been imposed, despite union protests. Employees are expected to sign up by 5 May, having only received the details on 22/23 April. This timescale is clearly deliberately designed to restrict employee access to their union reps who will be besieged by angry and distressed members.
The council's actions follow on from cuts in redundancy pay and 600 jobs being cut last year and nearly 200 this year.
Unison is starting to consult its members on industrial action.
In the face of such massive attacks, the task of raising the confidence of the membership to take action and ensuring that this happens as quickly as possible so that the workforce does not become demoralised, is an urgent one.
A protest will take place on 29 April.
In The Socialist 28 April 2010:
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party election analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news