School caterer Dolce- which provides catering services to schools across the North West including in Blackpool, Bury, Cumbria, Manchester, Rochdale, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan and the Wirral – has cut the hours and pay of hundreds of kitchen staff in schools throughout the region.
On Monday, the catering company texted its staff to inform them that their hours and pay would be cut by 20% with immediate effect- a cut which will leave some more than £300 per month worse off. UNISON North West warns that this will leave hundreds of key workers struggling to make ends meet in the run up to Christmas.
The school caterers were warned last month that their pay may be cut and hundreds came together in their union to oppose the decision, holding meetings online to discuss the issue. UNISON voiced its concerns about the lack of consultation in October and called on Dolce School Catering to work with the union to find a resolution.
In the absence of progress, hundreds of school catering staff had submitted grievances to Dolce but the company has this week imposed the pay cuts without hearing its employees’ grievances. Appalled by the imposition of the pay cuts and the notification by text message, many of the school meals staff have since submitted letters of protest to their employer.
The school caterers have received the backing of several headteachers of the schools where they provide children’s meals. Headteachers have expressed their consternation over Dolce’s decision to cut hours at a time when demand for school meals is increasing.
UNISON and headteachers alike remain concerned about the potential effects of these cuts on Dolce’s ability to run a full catering service within schools in our region at this difficult time.
The company had blamed the pandemic for the cuts but enquiries by UNISON have shown that many head teachers are not reducing their contracts or payments to the company.
UNISON North West Schools Organiser Keith Bradley said: “The entire country is in awe of the key workers who are putting themselves at risk to keep our schools running during this second period of lockdown.
“The entire country it seems, apart from the bosses of disgraceful Dolce, who have hit new lows by informing their workforce of the imposition of a pay cut via text message.
“At a time when Marcus Rashford MBE is leading the way in our region by campaigning to provide free school meals in the holidays, the very company providing those meals is set to plunge its own low-paid, majority women workforce into poverty with just over a month until Christmas.
“We are outraged by Dolce’s despicable behaviour and we are seeking legal advice- we will support these key workers to fight this decision all the way.”