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School catering staff face losing hundreds of pounds ​a month, says UNISON

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More than 2,000 school meals staff face having their hours and pay cut at a leading catering firm​, which could leave many struggling to make ends meet, says UNISON (@unisontheunion) today. 

The union is demanding urgent talks with the company​, Dolce School Catering​, after employees ​based in schools mainly in the North West, Yorkshire & Humberside, the West Midlands and the East of England learned of changes to their contracts just days before the half-term break. As a result, some could lose more than £300 a month, says UNISON.

The catering staff have been told their working hours and wages will be reduced by up to two fifths (40%) ​from next week and some will be moved to zero-hours contracts, says UNISON.

One kitchen worker has been told her hours are being cut from 27.5 a week down to 17.2, a reduction of more than 40 hours a month.

Another described how the changes would cost her £325 each month ​in lost wages. She said she’d been threatened with the sack unless she accepted ​a new contract.

The company has blamed the pandemic for the cuts​, but enquiries by UNISON have shown no evidence that headteachers have reduced ​the amounts paid to the company or ended ​any contracts.

Many of the schools affected have told ​UNISON there’s been no significant reduction in demand for school meals.

The union is calling for ​an immediate discussion with Dolce about the lack of ​a proper consultation process​, as well as a full explanation about why the cuts are being made.  

Jon Richards UnisonUNISON head of education Jon Richards said:

“The pandemic has had an impact on companies across the UK, but there’s no excuse for failing to treat staff fairly. ​

“The ​catering staff received letters just before half-term and ​they’ve had barely any time to think about ​these huge changes​. Most have been left wondering whether they​’ll be able to pay the bills or put food on the table.

“Cutting the wages of ​a low-paid, ​mainly female ​workforce will do nothing to help the economic recovery.

“This profitable company ​has failed to give any good reason why it plans to treat hardworking staff ​in such a callous way. ​Dolce’s ​certainly not offered to refund schools any money from the savings it plans to make. 

“Dolce must ensure no school children ​or any staff suffer ​because of these changes. Many headteachers ​have said they’re appalled ​at the way valued staff are being treated.”

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