Women will suffer most over ‘callous cuts’

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Two female employees at East Dunbartonshire Council have spoken out about the “devastating” effect of planned cuts to their terms and conditions.

Three trade unions are on the verge of strike action gainst the “callous and unacceptable cuts” by the council’s ruling Tory and LibDem coalition.

Women workers are set to be hit hardest, according to the UNISON union with cuts to holiday leave forcing them to pay out for more childcare.

One UNISON member, who works for East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Cultural Trust (EDLC), has two school-age children and hit out at the effect on herself and fellow female colleagues.

She told the Herald: “I have two children and if they are going to take away three days leave, this will have a huge 
impact on childcare.

“The lowest paid employees in the council are mainly women and this is an added burden. People will have to find childcare and fund it.”

She said that an overtime ban as part of the proposed cuts to terms and conditions will also have a detrimental impact on women.

She said: “Cleaners at the council are overwhelmingly women and have part-time contracts.

“Their wages are already very low and they rely on overtime to pay the bills. A lot of them are also the main breadwinners. Many are single parents. It’s devastating for them. How are they going to cope?

“Everyone is struggling from month to month. Staff have been cut to the bare bones and the amount of work has increased.

“It has come to the stage where we have to say ‘no more’. Enough is enough.”

She added that there was extra stress for employees of EDLC, the arms length trust which is under the control of the council.

She said: “Most staff on the cultural side are female. Because we are arms length employees, we get all the cuts 
but none of the benefits.If our jobs go, we can’t apply for any internal
vacancies at the council.”

GMB Scotland union members have already voted for strike action and the result of a ballot for UNISON members was due on Tuesday.

Another mum and trade union member, who works for the council, said: “The cost of childcare is going up and 
up. How are we expected to manage?

“The council are always going on about work/life balance. The set times over which we are now expected to work are going to be from 6am-11pm. So our working day is going to be extended. There is absolutely no consideration being given for work/life balance.”

As a local resident, she said she was also concerned about the effect on council services as a result of the cuts.

She said: “Cleaners are 
vital. A reduction in the number of cleaning hours will affect schools and lead to a health and safety situation.

“These cuts are going to have a serious effect on the delivery of services to local people.”

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON regional manager, said: “These callous cuts will hit women the hardest. No one wants to strike. But when your core rights and conditions are attacked, our members are rightly prepared to defend themselves and the services they deliver.”

Joint LibDem group leader Councillor Vaughan Moody has said the council was willing to discuss the proposed measures with the unions and consider alternative suggestions.