MORE THAN 4,000 council staff at Hammersmith and Fulham have been threatened with the sack unless they agree draconian cuts to their wages, and terms and conditions of service.
In the advance notice of redundancy sent to UNISON on October 17th, the Tory council made it clear that any staff refusing to sign new terms and conditions would not be re-employed.
These new terms and conditions include:
• Increasing the working week from five days to seven days with no overtime pay for evenings and weekends, and reducing the flexibility in the 36-hour flexi-time week.
• A ‘sickness code’ threatening dismissal after three sick periods annually, and forcing staff to make up time spent at doctors’ appointments.
• Dependency, compassionate and bereavement leave are to be cut from 25 paid days to seven days.
• New employees will have holidays cut by two days a year.
• Paid maternity leave to be cut from 16 weeks to just six weeks.
Hammersmith UNISON branch secretary Noreen Morris described the new terms and conditions as ‘appalling and a real insult to our hard-working staff.’
She alleged that senior managers had given themselves large wage increases and were employing large numbers of expensive agency staff.
She added that council workers had experienced two years of cuts and were struggling to continue to provide an effective service with fewer resources, including, in many cases, having to cover for colleagues who had already left.
A council spokesperson claimed the council were attempting to improve services and bring their terms and conditions in line with other councils.
However, he admitted that the main aim is to reduce costs.
The spokesman said that Hammersmith and Fulham council bosses are ‘raising our expectations of staff’.
This will be by imbuing ‘a culture of continuously improving performance with high attendance at work’.
In addition to cuts in staff pay and conditions, Hammersmith and Fulham Council plan to reduce council spending by 3% annually and sent senior managers on an awayday to prepare proposals to achieve the cuts.
In a leaked 30 page document entitled FSB/CMT Awayday dated July 8, senior council officers proposed cutting £400,000 from the highways department, £250,000 from play services, and saving £55,000 by closing two paddling pools.
In addition the document says the council should charge households for bulky rubbish to save £200,000, end rate relief to charity shops in order to save £100,000, and close two libraries for an annual saving of £145,000.
Despite all this, the document predicts that there will still be a £3 million funding gap, a £14.5m budget deficit for 2010/2011 and a £20.5m deficit in 2011/2012.