UNISON members at Dacorum Borough Council household waste and recycling depots went on strike over the Easter weekend after the council voted to cut compensation payments to staff who lose their jobs because of redundancy.
Although the council claimed that the cut in redundancy pay wasn’t linked to future job losses eight compulsory redundancies were announced a few days later. Branch secretary Matt Nix said this had left staff fearful for their jobs and for the future of the services they provide.
He told us “We believe the council intends to cut more services and make more staff redundant. Members have been under tremendous pressure because of the government’s austerity policies. They have kept services going with less and less staff and have had very little or no appreciation in return. But they have stuck it out and provided a good service to the residents of Hemel Hempstead. Now the council is rewarding them for their loyalty by cutting their redundancy pay. It is completely unacceptable.”
A week before the strike the branch held a protest rally against the cut in redundancy pay outside the Civic Centre in Hemel Hempstead.
Regional organiser Nalin Cooke said: “Councils workers are tired of being taken advantage of. To save money the council want to pick the pockets of some of the lowest paid public sector workers like street sweepers, bin collectors, grounds maintenance and cemeteries staff. This is not acceptable and we are taking a stand.
“The reduction in redundancy pay will have a huge impact on someone who has lost their job for no reason of their own. For some long-serving staff it could mean the loss of thousands of pounds. A cut to redundancy pay could mean people won’t be able to feed their families and pay their mortgages and other bills while they look for work.”
The branch is planning further strikes involving cemeteries, street care, and grounds maintenance staff if the dispute is not resolved.