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Unison calls on Suffolk County Council to ditch plans to make staff take mandatory unpaid leave, after members reject proposals in online ballot

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (6567288)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (6567288)

A public sector trade union increased its pressure on Suffolk County Council, after members overwhelmingly voted against the authority’s plan to make savings with mandatory unpaid leave for its staff.

The county council has proposed making employees take one day of unpaid leave, with money deducted from monthly salaries from April, as part of a series of measures aimed to addressing the increasing pressures on its finances.

But Unison has called for the plans to be ditched, after publishing the results of a consultative online ballot of members employed by the council.

In the poll, 95 per cent of respondents said they would reject an offer that forced them to take a day of unpaid leave.

Sam Leigh, Unison’s eastern regional organiser, said: “The message from staff couldn’t be clearer – Suffolk County Council must ditch this unpopular pay cut.

“Council bosses have cynically presented this attack on its workforce as a pay rise, as they plan to enforce the cut at the same time as they apply the second year of a national pay deal that they have already agreed to.

“But staff have seen straight through the spin and overwhelmingly said they’re not willing to take the hit for a lack of central government funding or for council leaders blowing their budget.

“Suffolk County Council has the chance now to abandon its unfair plans and start to treat its staff with dignity.

“If it doesn’t, Unison will step up the campaign against this pay cut and force council bosses to change their minds.”

In response, the authority says it is continuing to discuss the matter with union leadership, and will make a decision on how to proceed this week.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “We’ve fully engaged Unison throughout discussions surrounding future pay arrangements we are looking to put in place from April 2019.

“The idea of potentially taking an unpaid day of annual leave originally came from a survey we undertook with staff in the first place.

“We continue to take their feedback on the subject and will be meeting with Unison representatives later this week to announce our final decision.

“As has been much publicised in recent months, the council continues to face significant financial challenges in delivering services to the most vulnerable residents of Suffolk.

“Our staff are passionate about serving the community they work in and have experienced a lot of change in recent years.

“Our announcement later this week takes into account the views of Unison as well as many other factors that we have to be aware of as the role of local government continues to adapt to an ever decreasing budget.”


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