Union members upset about councils moving headquarters to Ipswich
- Credit: Archant
Members of UNISON at Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils are being balloted on whether to accept the authorities’ offer of new terms and conditions when they move office to Endeavour House in Ipswich in October.
Both councils are moving into office space that has been made available in Suffolk County Council’s headquarters – but staff are worried that they could be left seriously out of pocket by the move.
Until now they have had free parking in the councils’ two offices in Hadleigh and Needham Market, but now they have to face the prospect of paying to either use the county council car park or nearby public parking.
Regional organister Sam Leigh said “UNISON members at Babergh and Mid Suffolk have made a life choice to work in the public sector. They are long serving and hard working members of staff who have seen years of pay freezes and then below inflation pay increases.
“They choose to remain as public servants as they believe in what they do and also because many live in the Districts that they serve. This enables them to balance work with health and family commitments such as getting their children to school and then getting to work on time.
“Our members will see drastic increases in their travel time. Many will also have to foot the bill for parking in central Ipswich as they will not qualify for parking subsidies, and cannot feasibly use park and ride.”
She said the ballot would ask members whether they wanted to accept the new conditions. If they did not they would seek more talks – there are no immediate plans for industrial action.
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A spokeswoman for Babergh and Mid Suffolk said: “Staff based at our existing offices have benefited from free, on-site parking as part of their conditions of employment. That will not be possible at our new premises and so we looked at a number of ways to mitigate the impact upon everyone.
“At one time, this included thoughts of offering a ‘one-off’ payment to staff as a buy-out of that particular benefit. However, we believe the package of proposals we have now put forward, following a long period of consultation with staff, is much fairer and wider in scope.
“It includes free use of the Ipswich Park & Ride facilities for three years and reduced fees in the Endeavour House car park.”