A UNION has attacked Cheshire West and Chester Council for offering pay enhancements to staff to work with vulnerable adults during an Easter bank holiday strike triggered by the withdrawal of overtime payments.

Unison has accused Cheshire West and Chester Council of being ‘hypocritical’ in its ‘deliberate attempt’ to undermine their members' right to withdraw their labour.

The council says the pay enhancements have only been offered to staff who were not originally due to work this weekend and is to ensure care is provided to vulnerable adults.

The dispute comes after the council imposed new contracts which mean staff who work weekends and bank holidays only receive a flat rate instead of a pay enhancement.

Maria Moss, Unison regional organiser, said: “I think it is very hypocritical for this council to take enhanced pay off staff by imposing new contracts and yet, as a result of the possibility of hundreds of Unison members taking strike action, the council have found the money to pay enhancements to anyone prepared to undermine the action. This is the same money the council said they didn’t have.

“Earlier this week Unison and other trade unions tabled new proposals with a view to resolving the whole dispute. Rather than engage in this process the council put their energy into undermining the strike action. By withdrawing from this process the council have created the situation where the Easter strike action goes ahead.”

The union has not commented on the council’s claim that the action the authority has taken has been necessary to protect vulnerable adults during the strike action.

Unison claims workers striking this bank holiday include library staff, home care workers, housing staff, civil enforcement officers, park rangers, central control officers, CCTV officers, street cleaners, children’s home staff, social workers and family support workers.

Council staff committee chairman Cllr Alan McKie said the extra pay had only been offered to one key group of workers.

He said: “We have offered staff in our Learning Disability Network who were not originally due to work this weekend an exceptional payment to provide cover during the strike.

“This service is responsible for the care of the most vulnerable adults in our community and it is essential that staffing levels are maintained.”