Union ballots county council staff over plan to axe sick pay

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UNISON has today (Friday, February 8) started a ballot of Northamptonshire County Council staff, as the council plans to axe sick pay and national terms.

The ballot runs until Wednesday, February 20, and includes council staff such as social workers, librarians, the council’s call centre, support and meals staff.

The county council is proposing to axe the sick pay scheme, halt pay increments, force staff to take compulsory unpaid leave and move away from national pay agreements.

The union points out that the authority is owed over £11m in debt and could have considered a small two per cent rise in council tax to generate £2.45m.

Tonia Williams, UNISON’s regional organiser, said: “Councils are facing tight budgets in the face of severe government cuts. But staff have already endured a three-year pay freeze and already face redundancy.  Many staff affected by these draconian plans earn well below £21,000 and have also been hit by changes to working tax credits too. They are trying to hold their families together and keep services running, and have told us enough is enough.”

In a survey of members in January, UNISON received many complaints from staff that the county council was still spending money on consultants and systems viewed by staff as not fit for purpose.  There remained clear anger over earlier pay increases of 26 per cent for county councillors too.

Ms Williams said: “The county council has given zero guarantees over job cuts and privatisation of key services even if these plans are implemented. 

“Pay and conditions for many private and public sector workers in Northamptonshire are poor, and will get poorer still if the council gets its way. 

“Yet again it seems to be more pain for the lowest paid in our society compared with tax cuts and pay rises for the wealthy. “I look forward to the outcome of our member ballot with interest, but I suggest the council gets round the table to consider savings elsewhere as our members have suggested.”

Following extensive workplace meetings, UNISON is recommending members vote to reject the council’s plans. 

The consultative ballot runs until midday on Wednesday, February 20.