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Holidays, Sick Pay and Longer Hours. The Public Sector Loses its Appeal

Public sector workers are facing further cuts to their holiday entitlement and a longer working week while flexible working is also set to be slashed. But civil servants are not the only group to suffer. Local government employees and staff in the NHS aren't faring any better according to local negotiations.

A leaked Cabinet Office document earlier this month showed 450,000 public employees working in the civil service face changes to their conditions and none of them for the direct benefit of employees it appears.

The idea is to make conditions similar to the private sector. Practices set to come under scrutiny include employees' annual leave, occasional days' leave, sick pay, hours of work and probationary periods.

Image Attribution: David Burrows / 

Speaking in the Guardian newspaper Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: "Amid an imposed pay freeze, and cuts to pensions and redundancy terms, the Cabinet Office now wants to undermine some very basic working conditions that any decent employer should offer." 

Some staff are even facing the possibility of having to relocate in order to keep their jobs.

Meanwhile, local government employees haven't escaped the brunt of the imposition of new conditions either. Employees at Worcester City Council this week were still musing over the possibility of strike action after being told holidays and sick pay were to be reduced and planned salary increases delayed.

Under the new rules long-standing members of staff would lose their entitlement to extra holidays with all staff receiving a maximum 30 days annual leave. Sick pay would also be reduced to 90 per cent of an employee's annual salary for the first six months while bin men would be forced to work an extra 20 paid days every two years to make up for statutory holiday periods.

Public sector UNISON says the proposal is an attempt to save £300,000.

Steve Brown, of Worcestershire's Unison branch, told his local paper the Worcester News: "It's an attack on our terms and conditions, and I can't recommend they [Worcester Council employees] take this hit".

And NHS employees are also facing swingeing cuts with staff at around 20 hospitals in the south west of England looking at a reduction in wages and a loss of holiday entitlements. The reasoning, according to the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium (SWC) is to typically save £9m annually in each hospital.

Other calculations include reducing holiday entitlement by two days per employee to save £750,000 and saving another £2.6m by making staff work an extra hour without pay.

Tanya Palmer, Unison's south-west regional manager, was sceptical and said the plans were "undermining staff morale, stable industrial relations, staff recruitment and retention and, ultimately, patient care".

She added: "The reality of these proposals are about pay cuts, the consequences for the region will be disastrous and will result in skilled health workers being driven out of the region, taking money out of the local economy and deepening the healthcare postcode lottery."

Never has self-employment looked so attractive to so many ....