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‘Scrooge’ Barnsley council denies health visitors day’s holiday, after winning Investing in People award

Barnsley council is frontrunner for the UK’s most Scrooge-like local authority, after it denied health visitors and community nurses an extra day’s holiday given to the rest of the workforce for receiving an Investing in People award.

Unite, the union, said that the South Yorkshire council was ‘giving Scrooge a run for his money in the run-up to Christmas’, after council bosses told health visitors, school nurses and community nurses that they would not receive the extra day’s holiday that the rest of the workforce would get.

The 0-19 years’ children’s service was transferred from the NHS to the council in October as part of the government’s strategy for local government to take over the ‘public health’ agenda.

Unite members transferred under the TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) regulations and are now Barnsley council employees.

But mean-spirited council leader Sir Stephen Houghton CBE and chief executive Diana Terris told the health visitors and community nurses, who number about 30, that they were going to be denied this goodwill gesture.

Unite said that the extra day would be on offer if the health professionals gave up their TUPE rights which would have adversely affected their NHS pensions and eventual retirement incomes.

Unite lead officer for health in Yorkshire Terry Cunliffe said: “What we have here is a case of a council that won this award for ‘hard work and commitment’ treating a section of its workforce as second-class citizens – hardly the ethos that won the council the Investing in People award in the first place.

“This is despite the fact that our community nurse members have dedicated their entire working lives to supporting the children of Barnsley, as well as mums and their families. They have protected children from abuse, yet they have not been included in this ‘Team Barnsley’ recognition.

“This is shameful – the council needs to rethink its decision, otherwise it will walk away with the award for UK’s most Scrooge-like local authority in the run-up to Christmas.

“The TUPE rights they were told to give up was to exchange all their NHS conditions for Barnsley council conditions and keep their NHS pension, or give up their NHS pension and keep their NHS terms and conditions.

“A number of our members with long-standing NHS pensions were forced to take worse terms and conditions when they moved over to the council, rather than lose the continuity of their NHS pension.

“What has happened is a deliberate and insidious undermining of the TUPE legislation by a council that should know better. It is a travesty of natural justice and Unite is currently preparing a legal response.” 

Notes to editors:

According to the conciliation service, Acas website: “TUPE refers to the "Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006" as amended by the "Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 2014.

“The TUPE rules apply to organisations of all sizes and protect employees' rights when the organisation or service they work for transfers to a new employer.”

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.

Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org


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