Angry union boss accuses Tory MP of 'cheap political' point scoring

Union reacts angrily to claims by Tory MP

Union reacts angrily to claims by Tory MP that council staff should be back at work at New Shire Hall. - Credit: Unison

Union boss Rob Turner accused a Conservative MP who called for Cambridgeshire County Council staff to return to their office at New Shire Hall of “trying to score cheap political points”. 

Mr Turner, Cambridgeshire branch secretary of Unison, was responding to claims by Lancashire Conservative MP Jake Berry that many staff were still working from home and not at the council’s Alconbury Weald HQ. 

“Jake Berry’s comments aren’t just factually incorrect; they’re deeply insulting to the thousands of council staff who have kept Cambridgeshire going during the pandemic,” said Mr Turner. 
“While the picture he paints of empty offices is fantasy – the building is busy most days – he also ignores the fact that staff don’t need to be chained to their desk at New Shire Hall to be getting on with the job.  

“Indeed, for some, that job is going out to visit and support some of Cambridgeshire’s most vulnerable residents.” 

Mr Turner said: “While staff were able to work from home during the pandemic, we actually saw productivity increase.  

“It’s meant the public have got better value public services and staff have massively improved their work-life balance by cutting down on lengthy commutes. 
“And Covid is still far from over: infection rates are still at some of their highest levels in the last two years, even if most restrictions have ended. It’s right to put staff safety first and limit how much time they’re in the office. 
“Hybrid working is also a boon to the council’s green agenda, with fewer journeys slashing emissions across the county. 
“We don’t need to ‘go back to work’, we’ve been working day in, day out throughout the pandemic. Jake Berry should go back to his constituents rather than trying to score cheap political points off Cambridgeshire County Council staff.”  

Unison is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors. 
Two months ago, Fenland District Council said it had implemented working from home policies for many of its staff “as a matter of necessity during the pandemic”. 

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But it had found “remote, flexible working has proven to more successful than we had expected”. 

A council spokesperson said they had found working from home achieved “positive impacts outweighing any negative ones.