Vote may delay councils’ office move
Worried staff have been voting on new employment terms and conditions which could delay the move of two district councils to a new single headquarters.
Members of UNISON at Babergh and Mid Suffolk Councils have been balloted on issues of parking and change of workplace ahead of both councils relocating to Suffolk County Council’s headquarters, Endeavour House, Ipswich.
The week-long ballot closed today (Friday).
UNISON say the move, due to start in mid September, will mean the equivalent of a pay cut for members due to parking fees.
It also claims staff are worried about how they will be able to continue to do their jobs, the effect on their home and work lives, with many suffering from low morale, and ‘resigning or looking for work elsewhere’, as a result.
“Many of our members feel that their views have been completely ignored,” said Sam Leigh, UNISON’s regional organiser.
“They are preparing for the move to Ipswich but cannot ignore the cost of working for the councils is increasing.
“There are only 220 desks at Endeavour House, yet the two councils employs more than 500 staff.
”Ultimately, they are concerned how they will be able to deliver their service to the public.”
Council staff have had free parking at their current headquarters in Hadleigh and Needham Market.
Staff will now either have to use available council parking spaces, public parking spaces or a free Park and Ride option.
UNISON say the Park and Ride is impractical, as is the council’s concept of ‘agile working’.
Council chiefs want staff to make more use of technology by working from ‘touchdown desks’ around the districts, informal meeting rooms, working spaces and breakout areas at the new single headquarters.
There are currently no plans for strike action but further talks, as a result of the ballot, could delay the move.
The relocation is due to be complete by early October, Babergh and Mid Suffolk Councils say could mean the loss of up to a maximum of 10 jobs.
A spokesperson, said: “We continue to plan for all eventualities in a complex project like this. Our continued aim is to provide better services for our communities and for things to be simpler and more cost effective.
“There has been a 90-day consultation period with staff and we have held wide ranging discussions with the Unions.
“These include a commitment to provide our staff with free use of the Ipswich Park and Ride.
“In addition, we have put forward plans for subsidised fees for those who want to use the Suffolk County Council car park, and staff will be able to access a range of discounts on using public transport through the Suffolk County Council Green Travel Plan.”