UNISON members in Cheshire are today on strike over cuts to their terms and conditions imposed by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
They have already stopped using their cars for council work, and library staff in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Winsford and Northwich are today and next Saturday taking strike action in an attempt to get the council to reopen talks about cuts to terms and conditions.
They have warned further action with other unions is likely unless the council reconvenes negotiations about the stopping of paying enhancements for staff working weekends, overtime and all bank holidays, except Christmas, from April.
It is also paying less for working nights, while staff contracted to use their own cars for work face cuts of around £1,500 a year in their car allowance.
Council leaders’ comments about cutting “massively over generous” terms and conditions have left staff increasingly angry.
The unions say that working weekends, and going to work six days a week, as library staff have to do every other week, involves extra travel costs, additional childcare issues, and a disruption to family life compared to other staff.
Noting that 70% of council staff earn less than £21,000 a year, UNISON branch secretary Teresa Connally commented: “Now staff working anti-social hours, which have real additional costs are facing a pay cut.
“For library staff it will be at least a 5% cut. For care staff it will be much more. This is on top of a three year pay freeze.
“All good employers pay enhancements for working anti-social hours. Our members are not prepared to give up theirs without a fight.”