Cooks fear for their jobs

PUBLISHED: 08:59 05 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:54 06 May 2010

The Jubilee Centre in St Albans

The Jubilee Centre in St Albans

DESPITE assurances that their jobs would be safe, cooks at the Jubilee Centre in St Albans have been told that some of them could be made redundant. The seven staff, who have worked together for years serving up hot meals for the elderly and disabled, hea

DESPITE assurances that their jobs would be safe, cooks at the Jubilee Centre in St Albans have been told that some of them could be made redundant.

The seven staff, who have worked together for years serving up hot meals for the elderly and disabled, heard the news from representative of Herts Community Meals (HCM) which could be taking over the meals-on-wheels service which is currently run by St Albans District Council and Age Concern,.

Currently meals-on-wheels and food for some luncheon clubs in the district are cooked and distributed on weekdays from the council's kitchens at the Jubilee centre

But now that the county council has ended day-care services at the centre, it has been decided that it might be better to use the kitchen to reheat frozen meals as part of the HCM service.

The seven kitchen staff work at the Catherine Street site, mainly from 8am to 3pm five days a week. They produce about 200 meals a day which are sent out with an additional 50 cooked for the restaurant. They have worked together turning out freshly-cooked food for periods of between five and 20 years.

Now negotiations between the district council, Herts County Council, and HCM, which would be able to provide a seven-days-a-week meals-on-wheels service, are understood to be ongoing.

One of the cooks, who did not want to be named, said: "We were assured our jobs would be safe even though several changes were to be made."

Cllr Sheila Burton, the district council's portfolio holder for sport and healthy living, said: "The cooks would be subject to the usual legal arrangements regarding a takeover which means their jobs should be safe."

She said she thought the deal with HCM would depend upon them being willing to take over existing staff but added: "The restaurant is non-negotiable. We see that as an invaluable source of good healthy food for those who use it.

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