Unions threaten Christmas strike for Dacorum Borough Council workers

Unions say a Christmas strike could hit Dacorum Borough Council if they don't backtrack on plans to cut redundancy rates for their workers.

Thursday, 2nd November 2017, 8:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:12 pm
Council bosses at The Forum are risking the threat of industrial action over Christmas in response to their plans to reduce redunancy rates for staff

The Gazette can reveal that ‘fed up’ staff look set to vote for industrial action if the authority’s proposals are not scrapped.

The council wants to cut redundancy rates from 2.2 weeks – plus the number of years worked – to the statutory minimum of 1.5 weeks.

If implemented, it would see a worker who earns the average UK wage of £27,000, and who had worked for the council for five years, more than £1,800 worse off than what they would get now .

For the unions, that has ‘crossed a line’ and there is ‘no chance’ they will back down.

And it could see council staff – including workers in transport, waste, recycling, and maintenance – head to the pickets over the Christmas and New Year period.

Nalin Cooke, regional organiser for Unison, spoke to the Gazette on behalf of both Unison and Unite.

He said: “We’ve consulted about 190 members, and 90 per cent of them voted to take industrial action if needed.

“We have been in consultation with the employer for quite a long time, and the reduction in redundancies is just one aspect of their proposals. There were a number of changes as part of this.

“We are usually quite pragmatic and agree to changes where we can. Some of the changes are quite detrimental such as the removal of car lease schemes.

“But right from the start we have never understood why they want to reduce redundancy rates. That was a red line for us, and there’s no way we can accept this.

“We’re desperate not to strike, and in 17 years with Unison I have never seen a strike over a local council.

“But it will happen if there’s no movement, and the council is walking into a big problem.

“We may have potential action in the latter part of December or early January, which might affect that Christmas period.”

A council spokesman said: “Over the past six months, the council has been consulting with staff and the trade unions on proposals to modernise our terms and conditions.

“The aim is to ensure that we create a package that is attractive and fit for purpose, while ensuring value for money for taxpayers.

“These proposals have been approved by Members and we will shortly begin implementation.”

But Mr Cooke said there was ‘nothing modern’ about attacking workers’ terms and conditions.

He added: “We are keeping the door open for the council.

“But if they will not be flexible, there is no chance we are backing away – and there will be a withdrawal of labour.”