School-meals staff vote to fight cuts
Thursday 28th February 2002 16:55
School-meals staff in Yorkshire's East Riding intend to fight proposed changes to their terms and conditions, unions said this week.
Martin's Food Services employees face having their pension and sickness benefit schemes scrapped, retainer pay scrapped and holiday entitlement reduced. They also face a wage freeze until Martin's contract with East Riding Council ends in December 2003.
Pete Allen, regional organiser for the Transport and General Workers' Union, said: "These are substantial cuts aimed at people who are low-paid already." He said his members had voted not to accept the cuts.
Martin's managing director Peter Martin said meetings with the unions were continuing. He explained that the cuts were necessary to save about £300,000 a year, which East Riding Council would no longer contribute to the caterer's budget. He said the cuts were a temporary measure for two years and they would affect only 250 of East Riding's 800 school-meals staff.
He said: "We've put our plan clearly forward. If the unions have no alternative proposals, I can only go forward. In north-east Lincolnshire they don't have a hot school meals service. Three hundred Initial employees lost their jobs last Easter, and the local authority wouldn't carry on the service. It's a big problem. No one wants to subsidise school meals.
"I don't want that situation to arise in the East Riding. If there is no corporate contract, it is unlikely that loss-making schools will be able to provide a hot-meals service, and up to 300 full-time employees could lose their jobs."