Low-paid Swansea Council workers hit back at binmen in row over pay cuts
LOW-PAID care workers and catering staff have hit back at binmen who complained they could lose £4,400 a year in changes to their terms and conditions.
Swansea Council is bringing its whole workforce into line, creating one pay structure.
Binmen, who are set to lose thousands of pounds every year, say they face selling their homes and taking on second jobs to make ends meet.
It is because they have been put on the same pay grade as the likes of care workers and dinner ladies — who will see their salaries go up.
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But an anonymous member of the council’s catering staff said she was disgusted at the comments made in last Friday’s edition of the Evening Post, adding: “I have been a council worker for more than 20 years and find what was said disgusting.
‘‘We are one of the lowest-paid section of the council with cleaning and carers.
“How the binmen say they will lose £90 a week is beyond me, they must be on a far greater wage to be able to have this taken from them. They are getting bonus and shift allowances.
“Catering and cleaning do not get bonuses and we may not work outside but have times to adhere to to make sure food is on time. Also we have to make sure food hygiene regulations are met and health and safety standards. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a catering worker.
“We have been on such a low wage for years, while other sections have been reaping the benefits and now they have to take a pay cut they do not like it. How would they feel if they were on our pay grading and had been for years?”
A former care worker, who said she sympathised with binmen, backed the pay increase for support staff.
“I would like to speak out on behalf of the community carers,” she said.
“As a former home carer for over 20 years, I along with many others walked the streets in all weathers to get to our vulnerable clients so that they received the care they needed.
“The only thing that kept us going while trudging through snow, or getting a soaking from the rain, was the appreciation of the clients. It certainly wasn’t the pay, no bonuses for us and an hourly rate not much more than the minimum wage.
“It’s about time the council brought a decent rate of pay in for all those carers who do a brilliant job and have for too long been the poor relations of the council family.”
However, the binmen have also been supported.
Writing on the Evening Post’s website, brochadav said: “My binmen are always helpful, friendly and polite. Every Christmas I reward their efforts with a present, our postman too. People have forgotten how to be grateful for the efforts others put in.
“A pay cut is one thing, but putting their homes at risk is awful. Any of us are only a bit of bad luck away from financial disaster. I’ve seen it.”
And 123sandy456 said: “I really can’t believe that the bin workers are having their wages cut. In the past I have worked as a cleaner, dinner lady etc who also deserve good, fair pay. But could I do a job of a bin worker? No way. That’s why in the past the bonus was paid to this group acknowledging the work and conditions.”
Swansea Council said it was legally bound to create the new single pay structure. It has now made its best and final offer to trades unions and officers are waiting for responses.
A spokesman said: “Under single status eight out of ten council staff will benefit or stay the same. Those gaining the most will be those who have been working for years in low-paid roles which don’t have bonus payments.
“Swansea Council is no different to any other local authority which has implemented single status in that refuse workers have seen reductions in pay because of the ending of bonus schemes.
“However, all staff who face reductions will see their pay protected for a year. In the meantime the council will work with employees to see if they can be reskilled or whether their jobs can be made more responsible so that any loss is lessened or negated.”