Somerset council staff work to rule over redundancy row

Members of Unison employed at Somerset County Council have begun work-to-rule industrial action.

It means those staff involved will not undertake any duties not specified in their job description or contract of employment.

The union action is in response to a dispute over redundancy terms.

Unison wants staff made redundant to receive a pay-off amounting to twice what the council is currently offering.

In a ballot about 600 staff voted in favour of the action, roughly 10% of the council workforce. Unison said of its members who voted, 82.7% were in favour of industrial action.

'Slashing jobs'

Somerset County Council's cabinet member for human resources, Councillor Harvey Siggs, said: "It is disappointing that negotiations have broken down and that the work to rule has been called despite many hour of talks.

"Our intention has always been to minimise the number of redundancies but the cost of maintaining such high levels of redundancy payments in the current economic climate is unsustainable."

Unison says the dispute is not just about a cut to redundancy compensation or affordability, but part of a wider plan to slash public services in Somerset to the bare minimum.

"The council are not telling us that if we accept the reduction in redundancy compensation hundreds of jobs will be saved, because the council is intent on slashing jobs, regardless of savings achieved," said Unison's regional organiser, Liz French.

Her fellow regional organiser Helen Eccles added: "The council is commencing a review of every single service it provides.

"It is stated that the outcome of this will be that services will be stopped altogether, transferred out of the council or restructured."

The industrial action is planned to be carried out for an indefinite period.

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