Union hits out over loss of cleaning supervisor positions
UNION leaders have condemned Neath Port Talbot Council's decision to axe dozens of cleaning supervisor posts.
The decision will to save the council more than £400,000.
But Unison says many workers have made so many concessions they have no more left to give, while some are struggling to pay mortgages and are faced with a choice between heating their homes and eating.
It is now stepping up its campaign to have a so-called living wage introduced by calling for it to be extended to contractors working for the council as well as directly-employed staff.
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Unison's Neath Port Talbot branch chairman Mark Fisher said: "We were extremely disappointed with the decision to axe the position of cleaning supervisors.
"This is a predominately female work force who benefited from the job evaluation process the authority undertook four years ago, to address equal pay issues."
Last year the authority agreed to redesign its cleaning services as part of an agreement to work with trade unions to find ways of making in-house services more competitive, before looking at other ways of delivering them.
Now the council has said the redesign will achieve potential savings of around £447,000 as well as helping to secure jobs for cleaning staff and help keep the service in-house.
Of the 75 supervisors affected 15 accepted voluntary redundancy and 60 took up alternative employment as cleaners.
Other measures the council is introducing include reducing holiday cleaning in schools from 20 days to 10.
Mr Fisher said: "The decision to reduce holiday cleaning days from 20 to 10 was one that was imposed.
"The majority of head teachers were actually opposed to the decision, according to representatives of the NUT.
"Obviously Unison is very keen to maintain services in-house, and we will continue to work with the authority in order to achieve this, but this does not mean that we condone the attacks on the terms and conditions of our members.
"It shouldn't be about a race to the bottom, it should be about recognising the excellent work that public service employees do, whether in the private or public sector, and rewarding the staff accordingly."
Unison is now setting up negotiations with the council to introduce the living wage, which would see all council workers — and contractors if the union has its way — paid at least £7.20 an hour.
Branch secretary Melanie Fender said council staff had agreed to a two per cent pay cut to help with the council's budget shortfall.
"Staff have done their bit. We have no more to give," she added.
"Members are struggling to pay their mortgages, they have to decide whether to heat their homes or eat.
"We welcome the Unison campaign, and we remain hopeful that the living wage can be achieved within Neath Port Talbot."
Neath Port Talbot has already confirmed a "constructive dialogue" was taken place with the union.