Cash-strapped Somerset county council’s plan to ask its workforce to take  two days unpaid leave in each of the next two years is a result of its own financial incompetence, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Thursday 9 August).

The West Country council has proposed that staff take two days of compulsory unpaid leave over the Christmas holidays in both 2018 and 2019 which could save £1 million over the two-year period.

Unite said that it will be recommending to its members to reject the plan when it is put to the workforce in a ballot next month.

Unite acting regional secretary for the south west Steve Preddy said: “This crisis is entirely of this Tory-controlled council’s own making. If it had taken the advice of its financial advisors and raised council tax in line with inflation in recent years, the budget would now be running a surplus.

“Yet again, hardworking and dedicated council employees, who keep vital services running 24/7, 365 days a year, are being asked to bear the brunt of this council’s managerial incompetence.

“Since 2010, council staff, not just in Somerset, but across England, have been targeted by the Tory government with years of pay austerity. 

“And now when Theresa May’s government has indicated that it was allegedly  relaxing its attitude to public sector pay, here in Somerset, the true ugly face of Conservatism has been revealed with this move to salami slice holidays.

“It is a step too far and Unite, along with the other local government unions, will be resisting this mean-minded move. This is the thin end of the wedge.

“The actions of this authority are a wake-up call for the people of Somerset that local government as they know it is under severe threat – and the unpaid leave plan is the latest manifestation of this unpleasant direction of travel.”    


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065