Unison ballots Cheshire West and Chester Council staff

The trade union Unison is to ballot members at Cheshire West and Chester Council for industrial action in a dispute over terms and conditions.

The union said the council planned to reduce overtime pay and cut allowances for weekend and shift working.

Ray McHale, Unison assistant branch secretary, said: "The council are using the economic climate as a smokescreen to attack their own staff."

The council said 95% of staff had agreed to the changes.

Cheshire West and Chester Council was formed in April 2009 from a merger of Ellesmere Port and Neston, Vale Royal and Chester District councils, along with part of Cheshire County Council.

A spokesman for Cheshire West and Chester Council said the changes were to "equalise" terms and conditions which "which vary greatly" between employees of the four old authorities.

'Changes forced'

Unison said the council planned to make the changes by dismissing staff and re-employing them on new contracts.

Other measures would include staff being expected to work weekends, a reduction in payments for night work and cuts in allowances for staff who used their own car for work, the union said.

Mr McHale said: "We worked with the council on their original proposals and were prepared to harmonise all terms and conditions.

"But this council threw all that out and decided to force changes, meaning big cuts for staff and which are even worse than those originally proposed".

The council spokesman said: "Almost 8,300 staff working for Cheshire West and Chester Council have already agreed to new terms and conditions aimed at maintaining front line services and protecting jobs.

"Those covered in the new agreement range from car lease schemes and allowances to shift premiums, overtime rates and mileage payments to allowances for weekend and 'on-call' working."

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