Calls to reverse imposed unpaid leave on Cambridgeshire County Council
There are calls to reverse moves to impose three days mandatory leave on council workers this Christmas after the county council was branded a “Grinch”.
In October, Cambridgeshire County Council was labelled a “Grinch” when it was announced it was imposing three days of unpaid time off on council workers over the Christmas period.
Staff will have to take three days off without pay between Christmas and New Year, losing the equivalent of 1.2 per cent of their annual pay. The move, the council hopes, will help it plug a £5million hole in its budget.
In a letter to party leaders, Gillian Beasley, chief executive of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “After many years of diminishing government grant and rising demand for our services, we are facing the most challenging times ever.”
But now there are calls for the move to be reversed, with councillors urging the council to recognise the hard work being put in by “loyal” and “dutiful” staff, some of whom have been feeling the pinch since 2010.
In a motion set to go to Cambridgeshire County Council’s full council meeting on Tuesday(11), Councillor Sandra Crawford said: “Loyal hardworking employees of the council, who provide excellent support and dutiful service, will be deprived of three days’ pay over the Christmas period due to the financial crisis engulfing the Council.”
Coun Crawford said the same staff “have already endured a real terms pay cut of 18 per cent since the start of austerity in 2010”.
In her motion, Coun Crawford calls on the council to “Reinstate three days’ pay to those employees currently under notice of its withdrawal.”
As well as this, she calls on them to “Write to all employees before Christmas and express appreciation for their contribution and hard work throughout the year”
Council leader Steve Count, however, insisted the measures are “fair” and had been supported by councillors. Coun Count said that councillors themselves should also have a 1.2 per cent reduction in their allowances (equivalent to having to take three days unpaid leave).
In another motion to the council, Coun Count said: “Across the country, many councils are facing a difficult financial situation and the county council is no different. In this financial year (2018/19), the county council was projecting a £14.6million overspend if no action was taken due mainly to the increased demand for its services.
“In these circumstances the senior management team considered that the terms of the collective agreement were triggered as the county council was facing significant financial difficulties.
“Senior managers from the senior management team met with the trade unions and set out those financial difficulties and told the trade unions that the mandatory unpaid leave provisions would be implemented in the financial year (2018/19) so that employees would lose around 1.2 per cent pay whilst gaining three extra days of leave, giving a saving of £900k to the county council’s budget.”
Coun Count’s motion calls on the council to recognise the decision was “fair and is supported by us as councillors, made necessary under the present financial circumstances”.
The motion also says councillors “should not be exempted from the personal financial implications” and should agree to a 1.2 per cent reduction in their allowances, spread over a twelve month period.
The motion said this would apply to all 61 Councillors, not just the nine who have allowances in excess of £25,000.