BRITISH Waterways staff have voted to reject a pay freeze proposed by the organisation.
The trade unions Unite and Unison, that represent 85% of employees, totalling over 1,000, have voted against the pay freeze. The unions claim it is ‘unrealistic' and are taking the opposite view and calling for a significant increase in line with the rise in living costs.
As reported in narrowboatworld, the annual report for 2007-2008 shows the chief executive and eight directors split a bonus of £310,454, though the directors will share the pay freeze next year and will not take their bonuses.
A spokesman for British Waterways pointed out:
"This is an extremely difficult time for British Waterways in England and Wales with a drop in commercial income this year (on top of the long-term £30 million per annum funding shortfall) and an expected reduction in Government grant from next year.
"As a consequence, directors have proposed efficiency savings of around £10 million per year, including a restructure with the loss of approximately 100 jobs. This and the current negative retail price index inflation are in the background to the British Waterways pay standstill proposal. British Waterways directors are taking a 0% pay rise and have voluntarily agreed not to take bonuses for 2008 and 2009."
But a Unison spokesman responded:
"0% is nothing more than a pay cut. Our members cannot be ignored. It is time for British Waterways to come back to the negotiating table and make a fair and decent offer."
The British Waterways spokesman praised employees who have responded 'tremendously' to proposals for facing the organisation's financial challenges and said it would continue to discuss with Unite and Unison how best to address the concerns of union members.