Suffolk County Council: Proposed Cuts to Pay

Published on 22 November 2018 by Suffolk County UNISON

Cutting your pay with little chance of a reward for good performance?

UNISON is concerned that the Organisational and Service objectives for the proposed reward and performance scheme will be ill defined and applied inconsistently for staff across Suffolk County Council.

UNISON, like many of you, noticed the contradictory information sent out by the Council on this issue. The recent email from Chief Exec Nicola Beach about pay progression clearly states:

'The reward and performance proposal we are offering for 2019 - and beyond - will be based on individual performance. This will give you the potential to achieve your own progression in your day to day role.'

However, the staff survey asks whether you feel pay progression should be linked to Organisational or Service level performance criteria?

UNISON attempted to clarified this with senior management and can confirm that Nicola’s commitment does not provide the full picture because the:

'...reference to individual performance does not mean a service level measure may not end up in the final version.'

Suffolk County Council declined to email staff to explain that progression/increments may actually be linked to Service level objectives, not just individual performance as Nicola indicated.

UNISON thinks Service level objectives could be subject to the whims of different managers, and / or dependent on the available staff budget (which will vary from team to team).

Many members have asked us why “misleading” information is being provided to staff by Suffolk County Council. We do not have an answer to this. What we do know is that the information being provided cannot be taken at face value. Two clear examples are the failure to mention:

  1. the fact that unpaid mandatory leave will involve monthly deductions from staff wages; and
  2. that this will result reduction of employer contributions to your local government pension scheme.
Further staff cuts of £3 million!

If you thought things were bad with the announcement of a proposed pay cut for staff last week, then we can only imagine the anger at the news that there will be a further £3m of staffing reductions across all directorates during 2019-2020.

Many of you will see your teams or areas shrink further, whilst the work for you increases, and your pay is cut. At the same time Suffolk County Council admits in the budget papers for the same year that the forecast of £56.6m that the it will have in reserves at the end of March 2019 is “reasonable”.  

Why then, is Suffolk County Council choosing – yes choosing – to save a measly £1.08m by cutting staff pay and enforcing mandatory unpaid leave? UNISON has yet to receive a satisfactory response from Suffolk County Council to this question.

Some good news?

UNISON membership at Suffolk County Council is growing at an unprecedented rate. Many members are joining online at https://join.unison.org.uk/ to ensure they have a vote on this pay cut. The more members there are the stronger voice we have.

Trade Unions have the potential to make change and proof of that has been seen last week at Somerset County Council where union members voted against mandatory unpaid leave and the Council has dropped the proposal. Let’s show we can put up a fight too!

Suffolk County Council is proposing the mandatory unpaid leave will be for a limited period of time (two years). UNISON suggests all staff should ask themselves the following question:

If my terms and conditions change and I have to take two days mandatory leave a year, what is the likelihood of this being reversed at a later date once the budget savings have been made, and what impact could this have on my wages and pension?

Survey

Please complete the UNISON Survey because we need every member to complete it. We cannot rely on the results of the Suffolk County Council survey results.

Workplace visits

UNISON will visit workplace will throughout November and December. Come and see us and encourage your colleagues to join. We need to know what you think and feel about the proposals. 

If you haven’t filled out one of our postcards to go into the prize drawer for £50 High Street vouchers then come and get one from us to be in with a chance of winning.  

Thank you once again for your time and support.