Friday, 21 February 2014

Politics: Calderdale council staff could lose sick pay

Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors on Calderdale are set to unite against the ruling Labour group to overturn the forthcoming budget.

The coalition has produced an alternative budget for the district which includes a measure to restrict sick pay for all council staff.

The amendment will mean most council employees will not be paid for the first three days of any sickness absence.

Councillor Stephen Baines (Northowram/Shelf), Conservative leader, said: “In the private sector, the average sickness absence is five days a year, for Calderdale Council staff it’s almost double.

“We think that is fundamentally wrong and steps need to be taken to take control of this.”

Councillor Janet Battye (Calder), the Liberal Democrat group leader, added: “What we like to see is that people who have no sick leave get an additional day’s holiday in the following year.”

The coalition plan to freeze council tax rates until 2016 and will pay for this by dipping into council reserves.

The proposals also include measures to reverse recent changes to car parking charges and make more funding available for street cleaning.

The amendments are to be put forward at the annual budget meeting on February 24 at Halifax Town Hall - and could go through as a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition will wield a majority vote over Labour.

Coun Baines said: “We are extremely confident that our budget proposals will be accepted and the Labour proposals will fall.

“They will be required to deliver the services within the confines of the Conservative/Lib Dem budget.”

The amended budget has been seen by the Courier, but has not been released to opponents in the council.

It could spell great upheaval in the political make-up of Calderdale Council with the power shifting from the Labour group which has 21 councillors compared to the combined 28 of a Tory/Lib Dem alliance.

This article was published in the Halifax Courier on February 21, 2014.

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