Friday, December 8, 2023

Union Defends Dinner Ladies Against Council

A trade union has pledged to fight “worrying” plans from the County Council which could see school dinner ladies lose £100 from their monthly pay packets.

In July, a Derbyshire County Council report, leaked to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, showed that the authority was considering reducing the number of hours which catering staff are allowed to work by eight per cent.

This would see catering supervisors – or dinner ladies as they are often called – currently working 37 hours a week earning around £97 less each month; and those working 30 hours would earn almost £80 less.

The authority said that this is to ensure it can compete with private sector catering firms and said that the “small cuts”, if approved, would not impact on the quality of school meals.

There are 952 catering staff employed by the County Council.

GMB officer Lesley Waudby said: “The County Council have started a consultation to slash school staff catering hours and this could take as much as £100 a month out of local dinner ladies’ pay packets.”

“Worryingly, nobody at the County Council has even looked at the feasibility of delivering all of the school meals our children need on these reduced hours and the Council have also done nothing to assess the gender pay impact of these cuts to a predominantly female workforce.”

In June, the authority increased the cost of school meals for the first time in three years.

Under the changes, the recommended cost of primary, nursery and special school meals went up by 10p to £2.10 and the price of secondary school meals rose 5p to £2.88.

The meal price changes were made as a result of the increasing costs of supplying 60,000 meals each year while maintaining high quality food options.

The County Council says that the cutbacks to catering staff hours come as a result of “rising food and labour costs”.

A spokesperson for the authority said: “We are consulting with our primary school meals staff over possible small reductions in the number of hours they are employed for.

“Like many of our services we need to find budget savings and unfortunately this may mean staff working slightly less hours in the future than they do now.

“We would expect staff to lose in the region of half an hour to one and a half hours a week.

“We do not believe that these small cuts in hours will affect the quality of the meals our staff produce.

“Schools can choose who they use to do their school meals and our catering service needs to make sure that it covers its costs so that it can compete with the private sector.

“No decisions have yet been taken but we will shortly be writing to each member of the 950 staff affected to let them know what the effect on them could be.”

Eddie Bisknell (LDRS)

Eddie writes for Nailed through the Local Democracy Reporting Service, in partnership with the BBC. The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a partnership of media outlets sharing reporters to cover council meetings.

6 thoughts on “Union Defends Dinner Ladies Against Council

  • Alwyn Bridge

    CUTS Cuts Cuts I hope you all support your unions and show how determind you all are ,striking is the only option now to stop these cuts D C Council should be ashamed trying again to cut the lower paid in our society ,good look to you all .


    Why does it take a full working day to produce one meal? I’m a union member because I stand up for workers rights, but I clearly recall as a child that the dinner ladies went home before I did.

  • Sally Mayo

    I wonder how many payed council members and executive staff would do more work on less hours and take a pay cut !

  • Sallymayo

    Perhaps payed council members would like to take a drop in their salary do more work on less hours ! These dinner ladies have financial commitments mortgages kids to provide for ! They work extremely hard to keep our children fed with very little thanks .It might do some of you good to spend a day in a school kitchen , remember the temperature in the summer reaching 30deg plus your dinner ladies were providing hot meals for your children with no air conditioning!! These ladies are dedicated to their work they would not do it other wise think on before you start making cuts Perhaps some of the top executive staff could be. Trimmed down to share the load a little !!

  • Alison Elliott

    John, it doesn’t take a full working day to produce 1 meal, but it does to produce 170!!
    You need to know your facts before ‘spouting’ off.
    Whilst you were in class after lunch and once all the pots were washed, floors brushed and mopped the catering assistants would go home but the cook would still be in the office doing all the paperwork and organising the following day.
    What you being a union member has to do with this I don’t know.
    Know your facts…….

  • Nick.

    John Airey, why do you make such a stupid comment, your comment, that it takes 1 day to make 1 meal, what planet are you on, not this one !!! If I were paying a full days wage, to have one meal produced, then I would be looking for alternative labour to complete the task.
    Next time, before you press send, maybe you should count to 10 and think about what you are saying.
    Good on you ladies / gents what you are being asked to do by DCC is totally wrong, easy for us to say, stand your ground, it’s not we who are being forced into a corner with the possibility of losing our job.

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