Police staff in Cheshire will be taking 24 hours of strike action from 7am on New Year’s Eve. Staff are very upset by management proposals to change rest day arrangements which will leave staff unable to plan their lives away from work and reduce their incomes.
Police staff are employed in many roles including crime scene investigators, detention officers and 999 call takers.
Staff work shifts on a rota basis and at times of peak demand they may currently be asked to volunteer to work on their scheduled rest days. Now, Cheshire Police bosses want to be able to require that staff work on their rest days for no extra pay.
A Communications Operator at the Cheshire Police Headquarters said:
“I get satisfaction from my job and I do enjoy serving the public. It’s not an easy job though, sometimes it’s very stressful and we need down time to avoid getting burnt out.
“We work 10 hour shifts on a rota and our rest days are like weekends to us. These are our days when we can arrange to see family or friends, or just take a rest. I’m worried about being asked to work on my rest day when I have made long-standing plans. It’s worse for my colleagues with children.
“I have to use my overdraft every month and I’ve had to stop paying in to the pension – I hope temporarily. I tend to volunteer to work on rest days when I have an unexpected or large household bill to pay. So when my boiler broke down I worked some extra days to be able to afford to repair it. Not having the chance to earn some extra money when I need it will be a problem and I’m worried about what I’d do next time I have an unexpected bill.
“I think the system was working well up until now. There would always be enough volunteers. People are very unhappy about the proposed changes and I fear some colleagues may decide to leave. I hope that this can be resolved.”
Maria Moss, Regional Organiser for UNISON North West said:
“I’ve rarely seen a group of staff who are so upset. Police staff work very hard and really need their rest days.
“The decision to strike has not been taken lightly or irresponsibly. The employer has been notified well in advance of the planned action and we will be open to agree contingency arrangements that ensure public safety.
“The changes to rest days are simply an attempt by Cheshire Police to make a saving at the cost of staff well-being. Bosses need to think again and ditch these damaging proposals.”