Today (Tuesday), UNISON, GMB & Unite lodged a joint dispute with Merthyr Council after proposals to make massive cuts to School Breakfast Clubs which could result in redundancies. The council insists savings have to made but the reality is that a major upheaval such as this will still only save the authority around £150,000.
The joint trade unions believe any reduction to this vital service would have a devastating effect on many families in Merthyr who rely on it every working day. They argue the council should promote an environment where parents who work outside the immediate area, can leave their children in the safe hands of staff who will ensure they are well looked after and fed before school starts. This then allows hard working families to get to work, earn a wage and pay taxes. The proposals will just make that more difficult to achieve. Additionally, to many disadvantaged families, the service provides a chance for children to have a meal before starting school where perhaps for many reasons that does not happen at home.
Steve Belcher of UNISON said,
“This section of the council workforce is predominantly female and amongst the poorest paid and yet the council sees fit to attack them and the service they deliver. UNISON and the other trade unions will take all necessary steps to protect our members’ jobs and the Breakfast Clubs that so many people rely on.”
Gareth Morgan of GMB said,
“This Council needs to carefully reconsider their proposals before this situation escalates. It is not just GMB members working in the Breakfast Clubs but also many of our members who use the service who will be affected by these cuts. We will be happy to meet with council officials in order to resolve this dispute but they must realise the importance of the Breakfast Club service and the impact it would have throughout the Borough if the cuts go ahead.”
John Toner of Unite said,
“The council may think that these are small cuts that will not disadvantage the staff but they need to understand just how tight the margins are for low paid workers in these tough days of austerity. Many of our members on low pay live day to day when the loss of just a few pounds a week can mean having to decide whether to heat the house or feed the children. They may well have voted for the Independent Group that is now running the council but they certainly didn’t vote to be thrown out of work and treated like second class citizens.”
It is hoped the council reconsiders the proposals when they realise what the impact will be on staff and families throughout Merthyr. The trade unions remain hopeful the council will agree to serious meaningful dialogue with them and that a damaging dispute can be avoided.
Steve Belcher – UNISON 07944171572
Gareth Morgan – GMB 07980753130
John Toner – Unite 07710087815