Lottery winners down tools

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The Independent Online
Thirteen council workers who carried on working after their syndicate won a pounds 10m lottery jackpot are planning to strike next week - in a row with the council they did not want to leave.

The women, who were among 33 members of a council homeless persons unit who collected pounds 304,724 each in January last year, said at the time that it was "not the sort of job where you can just get up and walk out".

But on Monday, the 13 will start a five-day walk-out in protest at council's treatment of one of them, who took time off work to be with her dying father and then her bereaved mother.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Camden Council in north London defended the way the council had handled the situation of the woman, Philomena Kelly, a 40-year-old assessment officer.

Mrs Kelly had taken a total of 48.5 days of leave - 45 of them paid - and the council had asked her to treat nine of them as part of her annual holiday entitlement, he said. She had protested that this would stop her taking another holiday in October, he said.

"We are aware that she feels her treatment is unfair, but we have to balance her needs with our duty to provide service to homeless people. We saluted the Lottery winners' commitment to the work which made them decide to stay."

After the Lottery win, all 27 women and six men turned up for work on the Monday morning, after most of them had met for a Sunday champagne celebration.

One assessment officer said at the time: "We are all very committed to our jobs. It's very stressful, but our clients need us, and it can be very rewarding."