They are taking industrial action over a new contract that the council want to implement. This contract – nicknamed “the martini contract” will remove all shift allowances from council workers, meaning that there will be no extra pay for weekends, evening, shift or unsociable hours work from thousand so low paid workers.
A home care assistant who took an £8,000 pay cut last year to avoid redundancy, faces losing another £4,000 from a salary of £14,500. She says that she stands to lose her home if the contract is enforced.
Meanwhile, a library assistant will lose £1,100 from a salary of £10,980.
Whilst this goes on, the chief executive of Birmingham City Council earns £200,000 a year and will not be losing anything from his pay packet.
Alongside pay cuts, the new contract will allow the council to change the location of someones work whenever they want, and also to force someone to change job to any other position at the same pay grade – so someone who works as a library assistant in Sparkhill could be told to go and work as a housing officer in Kings Norton, and either accept it or leave.
People will no longer have the option of refusing weekend work – the council will be able to make them work any 5 days out of 7 – and of course there will be no financial incentive to work anti-social hours (which is presumably why the council want to change the contract to force people to do so)
A Day Centre Officer working in Harborne said
We need to stand together and fight. You may think “I am OK because my job or hours are not being affected” – well I say, not now, but eventually it will, if we give the council enough rope, they will hang us all
Birmingham Against the Cuts encourages all UNISON members to vote yes on the ballot, and would encourage everyone to return their ballots as soon as possible.
If these contract changes go through it will affect important council services that help vulnerable people and serve everyone in our community. We need to show our support for and solidarity with council workers, encouraging anyone we know to vote Yes to strike, and if possible to join them on pickets on the 29th and at the city centre strike rally on the 30th.
(names have been changed)