Union lobbies council members

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 January 2011

Copyright Archant Ltd

A PUBLIC sector trade union is sending out ballot forms to thousands of its members who work for Somerset County Council urging them to reject their employer’s ‘over-zealous’ cuts.

UNISON says that the authority is making ‘financially-unjustified cuts’, which it claims is slashing redundancy pay ‘to the bare minimum’.

Helen Eccles, UNISON south west regional organiser, said: “In the summer, when formal negotiations began on cuts, the council made gloomy predictions about what money they would get from the Government.

“In December 2010, they found the financial position to be much better than expected, to the tune of several million pounds in grants not previously accounted for.

“Yet the council is pushing ahead regardless, and driving through the same level of Draconian cuts to jobs and services.

“Their numbers simply don’t add up and will cause serious damage to local services.”

Nigel Behan, UNISON’s Somerset county branch secretary, said: “Swingeing cuts to redundancy pay will hit staff forced out their jobs, resulting in a package of up to £15,000 less than they are currently entitled to after a lifetime or loyal service.

“Many of our members are low-paid and will now struggle to support their families and keep a roof over their heads.

“The redundancy money will run out very quickly and in today’s jobs market it will not be easy to find work.

“More people out of work on reduced or no income means less money in the High Street and a higher welfare bill. This all adds up to a bad deal for Somerset.”

UNISON said it is striving to work with the Council to reduce redundancies and protect vital frontline services in Somerset.

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