Row over redundancy payments

COUNTY chiefs were today accused of sneaking through changes in redundancy payments prior to announcing huge staff cuts. Up to 116 jobs could go at Suffolk County Council over the next year after a shake-up was approved by members of the authority last week.

COUNTY chiefs were today accused of sneaking through changes in redundancy payments prior to announcing huge staff cuts.

Up to 116 jobs could go at Suffolk County Council over the next year after a shake-up was approved by members of the authority last week.

Many more could follow in years to come with the council needing to make around £150million in savings over the next six years.

In the wake of the announcement the Conservative administration has come in for criticism over its treatment of staff amid claims it made the cuts in redundancy payouts last year in the knowledge that job losses were on the horizon.

The council's Liberal Democrat group claims that when the Tories pushed through staff condition changes last year, to adhere to discrimination law, it reduced redundancy payouts.

Liberal Democrats group leader, Cllr Kathy Pollard, said: “The paper which came to full council last year really emphasised the need to change the staff's redundancy terms and conditions because of age discrimination laws, it also contained short, cryptic references to sustainability.

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“They were preparing their secret plans for privatising the council at the time this paper was presented to councillors. It's clear now why they chose to make some of the changes.

“The Tories have cut compensation payments for all staff and didn't want to be up front with councillors or staff about it.

“Sneaking through a lowering of redundancy terms for all staff however and disguising it as simply sorting out discrimination just shows the contempt the Conservatives have for anyone who gets in the way of their relentless drive towards dogmatic privatisation. “In truth they have discriminated against all staff by cutting redundancy compensation for all.

“I think it's a real shame and a poor way to treat staff.”

Cllr Jane Storey, deputy leader and portfolio holder for resource management and transformation, denied that the changes had been brought in with a view to future job losses.

She said the changes ended discretionary increased redundancy payouts for union members.

She said: “It increases the benefit for people who wouldn't have been entitled to enhanced redundancy in the first place.

“It all came about because age discrimination legislation came in and some of the things we were doing would have become unlawful.”

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