Unison accuses Quarriers of 'gunboat diplomacy' over dismissal threat to 2,000 staff

Union wades into row over terms and conditions

The trade union Unison has criticised Scottish social care charity Quarriers over its threat to dismiss all 2,000 of its staff and hire them back on renegotiated contracts unless they agree to cuts in wages and conditions.

Stephen Brown, branch secretary of Unison's Quarriers branch, said the charity had proposed in May to cut staff night shift payments and payments for public holidays.

It also proposed to cut sick pay by a quarter for any worker with less than five years' service.
But Brown said the charity had cancelled a planned meeting with Unison earlier this month without explanation and had instead written to the union saying that unless it agreed to the proposals, Quarriers would make all staff redundant and re-engage them on new terms and conditions.
"Unison recognises Quarriers is feeling the financial pinch and was prepared to meet in order to negotiate properly," said Brown.

"I'm therefore disappointed that Quarriers has decided to fall back on gunboat diplomacy by threatening our members with the sack.

"Quarriers continually says that it values its staff but this threat shows how much it really values us."

Phil Robinson, chief executive of Quarriers, insisted that he would consider terminating all contracts and issuing new ones only as a last resort.

"Quarriers entered into a formal 90-day consultation with staff on Monday morning over potential changes in terms and conditions and other savings needed to meet funding deficits," he said.

"This consultation is with a view to reaching agreement on those changes.

"No decision has been made where the cuts will be. Quarriers' primary intention is to retain staff and services and avoid redundancies."

Mr Robinson later told The Times that the charity, based at the Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, had a deficit at the end of the last financial year of about £1.2 million, which was reduced to £500,000 after reserve funds were used.

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