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Call to investigate Wiltshire Council workers' morale
A Wiltshire councillor has called for an investigation into morale at the organisation following a raft of redundancies.
Cllr Jeff Osborn, also a Trowbridge Town Councillor, believes an independent body should be allowed to run a confidential staff survey to see what effect this summer’s 252 redundancies have had on the remaining workforce.
As a member of Wiltshire Council’s overview and scrutiny management committee, Cllr Osborn will raise the motion at a meeting at Monkton Park, Chippenham, at 10.30am on Tuesday.
He said: “I think it is important for someone independent to come in and look into this. I could be completely wrong but I’ve spoken to a lot of people who work for the council who say morale is low.
“This applies across the board.”
Over the next four years, Wiltshire Council plans to make £120m in cuts with the voluntary redundancy scheme reducing spending by £4m with an expected ongoing annual saving of £6.9m from salary costs.
Some staff were angry after a subsequent announcement that the council’s corporate and service directors are receiving a pay increase of up to 16 per cent, although leader Jane Scott has said the administration has trimmed senior management costs by more than £1m in two years.
A Wiltshire Council employee, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted the Wiltshire Times this week and said: “I work in frontline services and the morale is very, very low. It is nice to see that we are getting some support from councillors and this being raised to scrutiny will make a few people feel a little awkward.”
Sue Anderson, secretary of Wiltshire’s Unison branch, who represent the council workforce, has also backed the move.
She said: “Morale is extremely poor and the senior management’s pay rises has gone down like a lead balloon. I think councillors need to get a true reflection of how staff feel.”
Simon Killane, overview and scrutinymanagement committee chairman, has welcomed a healthy debate on Cllr Osborn’s motion.
He said: “Staff morale and staffing policy are very important, so we will have a robust debate on the topic and decide the best way to take it forward - if the committee think it is appropiate to.”
Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire Council, did not want to comment and asked the council’s press office to release a statement.
A spokesperson said: “We value our staff greatly, as without their hard work and commitment we wouldn’t be able to deliver vital services to communities across Wiltshire. In fact we’ve just had an independent peer review where people from other local authorities spent a week interviewing staff from across the council. They found that we have a ‘highly engaged workforce with a sense of pride in the organisation’.”
“We have done everything we can to protect jobs, and there have been no compulsory redundancies.”
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