Guarantees that Brexit-related contract changes will not hurt staff are needed from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Friday 13 November 2020). 

CWGC staff who are British citizens but work in countries such as France and Belgium will no longer be entitled to UK contracts after December 31 2020, when the Brexit transition period ends. 

Instead the CWGC, where Unite has more than 50 members, has told staff they have the choice of switching to contracts based in the country they are working in or be repatriated back to the UK. 

Moving onto the new contracts means switching to their country of employment’s tax code and changes to pension arrangements and other terms and conditions. 

Unite said the CWGC is attempting to rush the process through without properly informing the workforce about the impact the changes will have on their financial circumstances.

The approach has led to growing fears amongst CWGC workers that the changes will result in substantial reductions to their pay, terms and conditions and complicated cross border accounting arrangements.

Unite national officer Bev Clarkson said: “The way CWGC has gone about this process is entirely wrong. Staff have not been given full and frank details of how these changes will impact their pay, T&Cs or pensions. 

"The rushed manner in which this is being driven through has left the workforce fearing that they could be in for a nasty surprise in regard to their incomes when the dust settles.

“CWGC staff dedicate themselves to performing a sacred duty on behalf on the UK and the other Commonwealth nations and keeping them in the dark on the practical implications of switching to foreign employment contracts is simply not acceptable. 

"Transparency is urgently needed from the commission as well as concrete guarantees that staff will not be left worse off by these changes.” 

ENDS

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.