Story by: ANDREW PAPWORTH
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
UNION members have sent a letter to Cambridgeshire County Council leader Nick Clarke warning him to “stay clear of council workers’ pay and conditions” amid fears of wage cuts.
Councillor Clarke revealed that staff terms and conditions would be reviewed in the years ahead to help save cash in difficult economic times.
That has not gone down well with UNISON members, who said CCC workers were “angry with the council leader and the Government for continually depicting them as better off and ‘privileged’ in some way, just because they work in the public sector”.
Rob Turner, acting secretary of UNISON’s Cambridgeshire branch, said: “We have had unprecedented amount of council workers and UNISON members come forward and express their disgust at what is being said about them in the public arena.
“These are people who in the past have been happy to sit back and not get involved with workplace politics but now can stay silent no longer.”
Mr Turner believes cutting jobs and pay will not help the county’s economy grow. Instead it will just put strain on the welfare system and cost the taxpayer more, he said.
He also highlighted that council workers’ pay has been frozen for three years and that, far from being gold-plated, the average local Government pension for women is £2,800 per year.
“My members are already struggling with high-inflation and a three-year pay freeze,” Mr Turner said. “Many of them are now in a financially precarious position, in debt and close to the poverty line. Has Cllr Clarke actually been out and spoken to any of his employees to see what they think about his comments?”
However, Cllr Steve Count, the cabinet member for resources and performance, said: “It is right that we review staff terms and conditions in coming years.
“It seems appropriate to me that while we consider how to stretch our budgets, which includes areas such as looking after vulnerable adults or children in care, we consider all costs associated with delivering these services to do our best to protect frontline services.”
He reassured workers that “at this stage nothing has been decided other than cabinet’s desire for modern and flexible approaches to employment issues”.
The council would work with trade unions and staff representatives, he said.