Unison members employed by the Scottish charity Quarriers struck for 24 hours on 6 September in opposition to plans to impose brutal pay cuts.
Quarriers provides support for some of the most vulnerable and distressed adults and children in Scotland, including adults with disabilities and epilepsy sufferers.
Over 560 of its employees are now at risk of a 10% pay cut. Others stand to lose as much as 23%.
In addition to pay cuts, Quarriers is proposing cuts to sick pay, cuts to maternity, paternity and adoption pay, scrapping redeployment salary protection, increased pensions contributions, and making any future pay increases (both incremental and cost-of-living) discretionary.
In order to ‘alleviate’ the impact of such pay cuts, Quarriers has suggested setting up a Hardship Fund for its staff, funded by the pay cuts which it is seeking to implement.
A ballot on industrial action saw Unison members employed by Quarriers voting three to one in favour of strike action, and over four to one in favour of action short of strike action.
A 24-hour strike was subsequently called for Tuesday 6 September.
Quarriers is defending its attack on its employees’ terms and conditions by arguing that the cuts are a knock-on effect of cuts in local authority funding. As an explanation of the trigger for the cuts this may be true. But it is also all the more reason for opposing them.
More and more voluntary sector organisations are turning on their own staff, either because local authorities have cut their funding, or because voluntary sector organisations are engaged in a “race to the bottom” in order to win contracts from local authorities.
The result is worse rates of pay for voluntary sector workers, and a worse standard of services for service-users.
Instead of passing on cuts in funding from Holyrood, local authorities should be allying themselves with council and voluntary sector workers in a unified campaign of opposition to all cuts.