Suffolk council accused of “picking pockets” by enforcing unpaid leave

Suffolk County Council offices, Endeavour House. Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk County Council offices, Endeavour House. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: ARCHANT

Suffolk County Council has been accused of “picking the pockets” of its staff by offering them a pay-rise – and then forcing them to take two days of unpaid leave.

The main staff union at the council said this effective meant staff would lose much of the nationally-agreed pay increase.

The council is currently consulting on the changes. Unpaid leave will be taken out of monthly pay and is likely to affect pensions.

The council has also said it will implement a nationally agreed pay deal for its employees, which had already been committed to.

UNISON regional organiser Sam Leigh said: “Suffolk County Council is reaching into its workers pockets while telling them they’re getting a pay rise.

“The council is dressing up the already agreed nationally negotiated pay rise while clawing back the cash by forcing staff to take unpaid leave.

“Whatever spin council bosses try to put on this, council staff know that this is a pay cut, and it’s a bitter pill to swallow after years of dedicated work.

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“Council bosses need to realise that the way out of this funding crisis isn’t to sheepishly pass cuts from central government on to their hardworking staff but make Hammond and May come good on their claim that austerity is over.”

Suffolk County Council chief executive Nicola Beach said: “In March next year, our agreement with Unison comes to an end and, ahead of this, we have sought the opinion of staff on options for next year.

“The reward and performance proposals under consideration are the reintroduction of pay progression for staff across the organisation.

“We recognise the importance of offering a fair and meaningful reward and feel it is well deserved for the support and commitment staff show to the organisation every day.

“However, while we recognise the need to reward staff, we continue to be constrained by our budget and a significant savings challenge. A saving suggestion that we are looking to take forward and have shared with Unison, is to apply unpaid leave of 2 days during 2019/20 and 2020/21. This would be in addition to annual leave allowance.

“We will be meeting Unison regularly over the next few months and hope to have ended negotiations by February in time for any new agreed scheme to be implemented by April.”

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