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London council to cut sick pay in cash-saving bid

A London council has proposed to stop paying sick pay for the first three days in a bid to save money.

The GMB has called Hillingdon Council’s proposal an “affront to its hard-working employees.”

Keith Williams, GMB’s senior organiser, said that the council has seen “massive” cuts since 2010 due to the government’s “unfair and unjust impositions on council budget spending.”

Consequently council workers are working harder to deliver services with less people, which in turn leads to sickness, he argued.

Williams criticised the decision to reduce sick day payments despite funding an anti-Heathrow expansion campaign, which it says cost the council over £600,000 between 2007 and 2014.

“This is double standards at its worst. It’s OK for the council to channel public money into the pockets of lawyers to fund a political campaign, but it's not OK to pay workers for three days who are too ill to go to work,” added the union official.

“It is no coincidence that the council’s proposals to stop paying sick pay for the first three days were put forward prior to the National Employer for Local Government tabling a formal two-year pay offer to the trade unions who represent local authority workers.

“So much for the season of goodwill, this is a classic case of bah humbug, the National Employers offering a pay increase in one hand and Hillingdon Council playing Scrooge and proposing to take it back in the other so that loyal and dedicated staff who are unable to attend work due to sickness can self-finance the offer from next April.”

A spokesperson from Hillingdon Council told PSE: “As the majority of our employees are not trade union members (approximately 5% in the GMB ) we reserve the right to to discuss workforce terms and conditions with our Employee Forum as well as trade unions. 

“Our consultation began on 1 December and ends 31 January 2018. One of the options we are seeking views on is that occupational sick pay only commences following either the first, second or third day of absence which could save between £260,000  and £720,000 per year if implemented. 

“We will continue to offer highly competitive sick pay entitlement of up to 6 months at full pay and an additional 6 months at half pay. The proposals will apply to all staff at the council, currently 2,740 employees.”

The GMB do not represent the residents of Hillingdon who voted in a referendum to oppose Heathrow expansion, the views of GMB on this subject are of no interest to us.”

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