Council staff face extra hours for same reward


Bosses are being warned the proposals will reduce already low morale still further, while staff could refrain from working more than their allotted hours.

Among changes to terms and conditions being considered are:

  • reducing annual leave by two days, with staff able to buy back lost leave entitlement;
  • cutting weekly hours to 35, with salaries cut pro rata;
  • increasing the working week from 37 to 40 hours with no increase in pay – or offering staff the option of sticking to the same hours and taking a pay cut;
  • not paying sick pay for the first three working days of absence.

Arminel Goodall, UNISON’s Somerset County Branch Secretary, has written to members claiming the “unwelcome” proposals follow a three-year pay freeze and 1% pay rise this year, equating to an 18% pay cut in real terms since 2010.

She told the County Gazette: “Somerset County Council staff are clearly some of the lowest paid workers in the public sector and are already struggling to meet household bills. Staff are anxious.

“We believe these ill-conceived proposals are poor reward for the hard work staff have put in over the past four years in delivering the savings the council has said it needs to make, while maintaining a service for the public of Somerset in the face of reductions in both resources and staff.

LibDem Cllr Justine Baker said: “At at time when staff are finding it tough already, to have these options in front of them must push morale to an all-time low, particularly just before Christmas.

“I expected more from the public sector, particularly the County Council which should be looking after their staff, not making them feel undervalued.”

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “We have been very clear with staff and residents across Somerset that we are facing reduced income but our costs and demand for services are still increasing.

“We are looking at all our services – including staff terms and conditions - to try to reduce this deficit.

“In relation to the UNISON release, we can confirm that we will consult with staff in the new year about proposed changes to sickness payments and payment protection for staff moved to a lower grade role.”

The full article is available on the Somerset County Gazette website: Council staff face extra hours for same reward

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UNISON Office, A3 County Hall, Taunton, Somerset TA1 4DY. 01823 355568