Cheshire police staff will strike for 24 hours on New Year’s Eve causing a headache for Constabulary chiefs on one of the busiest nights of the year.
Emergency call handlers, detention officers and crime scene investigators are among civilians taking part in the action which was finalised this morning.
The strike will begin at 7am on December 31 and end at 7am on New Year’s Day.
Police officers will work as normal. And trade union Unison will consider exemptions if any requests are forthcoming based on risk to life or limb.
Staff voted ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour of the strike in a dispute focused on Unison’s claim that police staff will be forced to work on days off for no extra pay. Previously, staff could volunteer to give up their rest days during times of peak demand, such as the Creamfields festival, but were paid overtime.
The union says many police staff already work unsocial hours, often clocking up more than 40 hours in a week before getting a day off. Staff are reported to be ‘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.
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.”
A communications operator, based at Constabulary HQ in Winsford, who wished to remain anonymous, 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.”