School chefs could strike over pay

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East Sussex school chefs could go on strike over a pay dispute.

Around 130 chefs employed by Chartwells, a subsidiary of contractors Compass, in East Sussex are facing a 9% pay cut.

The chefs' hourly wage is not being cut but they stand to lose a supplementary payment.

The current system sees chefs responsible for collecting money paid for school meals and then depositing them at the bank.

It is understood Chartwells feels this is a health and safety risk to them and is looking to outsource the service possibly to security firm G4S.

The change would leave chefs facing a potential loss of £720 per year on a salary of less than £8,000.

GMB has branded the proposal “appalling” and has called for it to be withdrawn.

A meeting between the union and Compass due to take place last week was delayed until after the Easter holidays.

But Rachel Verdin, GMB regional organiser, said unless an acceptable offer is put on the table those affected could take industrial action.

She added: “Committed and hardworking staff employed by Compass responsible for cooking the food our children eat have had enough. Many of these workers are single mums already struggling and to lose £60 per month is quite frankly an appalling proposal and must be withdrawn.

“After three consecutive years of pay freezes their wages at £6.66 per hour are barely above the National Minimum Wage.

“The 9 % pay cut they now face is on top of the effect of inflation and has pushed chefs to breaking point.

“I am warning Compass they've bitten of more than they can chew with this latest attack on wages.”

A spokesman for Compass said: “Chartwells is reviewing the cash collection procedures we have in place in our East Sussex contract. Currently some colleagues undertake this role and we are considering whether it is more appropriate for a specialist third party to perform it. It is important to stress that this is an ongoing consultation and any such changes will not affect the hourly pay rate of these colleagues.

“We have met with our employees and the GMB, and remain committed to having an open and constructive dialogue with all parties involved.”

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