Northampton

Northamptonshire County Council workers in strike ballot

A union is to ballot Northamptonshire council workers over possible strike action after new job conditions were introduced, including cuts to sick pay.

Northamptonshire County Council sent out letters earlier this year to staff detailing the changes.

The local authority said it had to save £4m a year in staff costs.

The union Unison said it wanted the council to withdraw the new conditions and re-negotiate.

Sickness pay reduced

The union and the council began talks over the new terms and conditions in October and the changes were introduced this month.

The new terms include a reduction in full sickness pay entitlement, freezing the performance related pay scheme and replacing the use of a national pay bargaining system with a local one.

Steve Bennett, branch secretary for Unison, said: "The imposed sick scheme will not save the council money but will devastate staff who are ill longer-term.

"We fear that ending national conditions signals that staff will face further cuts to terms.

"Councils elsewhere are not doing this despite budget pressures, so Unison is open to resolving this dispute and I urge the council to return to talks and withdraw from imposing new terms."

Avoid redundancies

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: "By saving £4m a year we will avoid further redundancies and direct pay cuts - as well as helping safeguard budgets for front line services.

"More than 92% of our employees consented to the changes to terms and conditions.

"We hope that the trade union does not take strike action which may affect the services we provide."

Unison said its ballot would also include a vote on working-to-rule.

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