Union threatens industrial action over council plan to cut sick pay
Up to 7,000 trade union members at Birmingham city council will be balloted for industrial action if controversial changes to working conditions are forced through.
The GMB union has warned the council’s Labour leadership it will fight plans to stop sick pay for the first three days of absence, end extra payments for weekend shifts and extend the working week.
Council leader John Clancy hopes to save £18 million a year by 2018-19 by renegotiating the contracts of all council staff and introducing “more flexible working arrangements”.
When he launched the budget plans Cllr Clancy said he anticipated lengthy negotiations with the unions. Similar moves to cut sick pay and extend working hours have been proposed by the council in the past but withdrawn or watered down following threats of industrial action.
Cllr Clancy inherited the contract renegotiation proposals from budget plans drawn up by his predecessor as council leader, Sir Albert Bore.
GMB members are some of the lowest paid workers at the council and include non-teaching staff in schools.
The union’s regional officer Gillian Whittaker said:
GMB has categorically insisted that the council should not be proposing changes to nationally agreed terms and conditions for local council and school staff. These cover sick pay entitlements and other terms and conditions.
Birmingham is a Labour-led council. GMB considers that it goes against Labour principles to try to force through these changes. It is clear that the majority of schools Head Teachers are also opposed to these changes.
Labour-led Birmingham should defend the nationally agreed terms and conditions for their loyal staff.
Ms Whittaker said the GMB was in the process of consulting nearly 7,000 members at the council over proposed changes to terms and conditions of employment.
The union is advising its members that it is prepared to challenge the council on the proposals and is ready to ballot members for industrial action if the council gives notice that it will try to force through these changes without agreement.
The council is consulting staff on changes to their contracts following the announcement in December of the intention to withdraw from national agreements and set their own reduced terms and conditions.
The proposed changes will also apply to schools staff working in Birmingham community schools, maintained nurseries, voluntary controlled schools and also in house construction arm Acivico.
Unison, the other main council union, is also expected to ballot members for industrial action if the proposed changes are forced through.
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