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Suffolk County Council axes unpaid leave plan

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Plans to force all staff to take a day of unpaid leave each year as part of cost-cutting measures at Suffolk County Council have been scrapped following union pressure.

The first draft of the council’s budget published in November proposed to make staff take two days of unpaid leave over two years, with the money coming out of their monthly salaries.

Pressure from trade union UNISON resulted in the council changing that proposal to one day for one year, but after the union’s ballot revealed a 95 per cent rate against the plans, the council has now backed down.

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (6593805)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (6593805)

A council spokesman said: “Following valuable staff feedback and meaningful negotiations with UNISON, we have decided to remove the proposal to apply unpaid leave for 2019/20 and 2020/21 for all staff. Our staff are passionate about serving the community they work in and have experienced a lot of change in recent years."

The decision has been welcomed by UNISON.

Regional organiser Sam Leigh said: “Council finances are stretched but it’s not right that the staff who have struggled to keep services running through years of austerity should pay the price with cuts to their pay."

Andrew Stringer, from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group, said: “Our front-line council staff are working incredibly hard to provide services in a difficult financial environment. The last thing we should be doing is punishing them with a pay cut.”

Sarah Adams, Labour leader, added: “This proposal looked half-baked from the outset so this u-turn is already overdue."