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Stressed council staff "collapsing at work"
JOB losses are putting so much strain on Southend Council staff that some workers have collapsed at work, unions claim.
Southend Council’s Tory administration plans to axe the equivalent of just under 50 full-time posts as part of £7.3million of cuts this year.
Some of the posts are empty, but about 30 staff members’ livelihoods are expected to be at risk.
But Unison, which represents just under half of the Civic Centre’s 1,600 staff, claims many who remain are already having to work 12-hour days to take on the workload of axed posts.
Claire Wormald, secretary of Southend Unison’s local government branch, said: “A lot of people are coming in when they shouldn’t be.
“We know of people who have collapsed at their desks.
“That might sound dramatic, but it’s linked to levels of stress.”
She warned that some social workers were coming in at 7am and staying until 7pm, risking the lives of those for whom they are responsible.
Ms Wormald said: “The outcome for the public is the services they rely on are going to be less reliable because they can’t be sustained. It puts the community at risk as much as our members.”
Staff took more than 2,000 sick days due to mental health reasons, including stress, in 2012, the Echo revealed last year, although sickness is falling.
The number of roles under threat is lower than the 80 full-time- equivalent posts cut this financial year and the 120 in 2012-13, although Unison claims this is because the number of council staff is dwindling.
Council leader Nigel Holdcroft, who outlined the cuts in the coming year’s budget earlier this week, refuted the union’s claims. He said: “The number of job losses is less than we originally feared.
“I do not accept our staff are being unreasonably pressured or the situation is any worse than exists in the public or private sectors across the country.
“We have good systems to provide staff support where necessary and will continue to invest in IT to help our staff to deliver good efficient services.”
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