UNITE and UCATT unions at Birmingham City Council will be balloting for strikes over contract changes which will see workers lose shift allowances, and be told they can work any job, any place at any time.
These ballots will take place in August. GMB are currently deciding if they will ballot their members for strike, whilst UNISON have already balloted, and took strike action on 30th June.
We are hearing that there are plans for strike action in September and October, as well as periods of work-to-rule industrial action.
The changes to the contract affect all workers below grade 4 (obviously cuts don’t come to management, only to the lower paid workers – just as nationally cuts aren’t affecting the bankers or super-rich, just ordinary working class and average earners – truly giving the lie to the ConDems well worn cry of we are all in it together).
At the moment, the council are holding 1 to 1 meetings between managers and their workers to explain individually how much money they will be losing and asking them to sign the contract. We have heard of managers walking out of these sessions in disbelief as to just how much people will be losing.
One home carer who is currently on around £22,000/year has been told he will be losing £6,000/year under the new contract – a 36% pay cut! He has said that he will no longer be able to afford his mortgage, and will lose his house.
This is someone who travels around Birmingham supporting vulnerable people to help them maintain an independent life, and live in their own home. A variety of people make use of these services, mostly elderly or disabled people but also adults with learning difficulties who require support for instance to cook or clean the house.
In addition to pay cuts, workers are being told that the new contract means that they can have their job changed to any other job at their pay grade, in any location in the city, working any hours. This means someone who has accepted a job in their local area with times to fit around looking after a family can be told to work evenings and weekends on the other side of the city, and they will have to do it or resign. Such conditions being placed on workers cannot be accepted.
At Birmingham Against the Cuts, we would encourage all members to vote yes to strike action, to show the council that such savage cuts cannot be implemented, and that the council will not function until they back down.
You can read more about the “martini contract” on page 2 of the Unison newsletter (PDF)