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Somerset County Council staff at 'breaking point', says UNISON boss
7:00pm Monday 4th February 2013 in Somerset
STRESSED-out staff at County Hall, Taunton, are at “breaking point” – and things could get worse with 190 jobs under threat, a union boss warns.
Somerset County Council, which is freezing council tax, proposes saving £20million by cutting services and jobs, due to a lower Government grant.
But UNISON’s Oliver Foster-Burnell says it will weaken the local economy and could hit Somerset’s most vulnerable.
He said: “Frontline services which have already been cut are still shrinking or disappearing.
“The council have been compliant and played their role in the reduction of crucial services, imposing a council tax freeze for a fourth year instead of trying to maintain its once ‘excellent’ services.”
He said UNISON is concerned at increased stress among staff due to greater workloads.
Figures show 3,809 days were lost to stress in the learning disabilities department last year, up from 3,497 in 2011; and 1,970 were lost in children’s social care services, up from 1,588.75.
A county spokesman said sickness levels were on a par with the best-performing English councils, although some absence levels have increased.
He added: “This is no different to that found in other organisations throughout the UK as we all try and grapple with the economic downturn.
“The current economic climate makes it hard for everyone and UNISON should understand that.”
The authority has introduced measures to support stressed staff.
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