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WANDSWORTH STAFF VOTE FOR ACTION OVER SICKNESS CLAMPDOWN

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Union members employed by Wandsworth LBC yesterday voted for strike action over plans by the borough to penalise st...
Union members employed by Wandsworth LBC yesterday voted for strike action over plans by the borough to penalise staff who take excessive sick leave, reports The Financial Times (p2).

Union members voted 4-1 in favour of a one-day stoppage to protest at the council's proposals, which would force employees to make up working hours, or lose annual leave or pay if they exceeded a sickness threshold.

John Perry, co-ordinator of the unions at Wandsworth, accused the council of basing its plans on mean-spirited political dogma.

'Wandsworth council workers have the lowest sick absence record in Greater London. They should be praised and motivated by their employers, rather than attacked and villified,' he said.

The authority accepts that its sickness absence record is relatively good - it has fallen to an annual average of 8.3 days per employee from 11.2 in 1990. However, the council says sickness absence still costs£5m a year and it has adopted a target of reducing the average to 6.2 days.

Staff with long-term health problems would be excluded from the proposed penalties, which are aimed at employees who are frequently absent for single days or other brief periods.

Under the initial proposals, staff who had more than five single-day absences during a year or exceeded 10 days off in three or more periods would become liable to the penalties.

But the council is still in negotiation with its unions over details of the scheme.

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