Memebers of the GMB, Unison & Unite Unions, council staff and members of the public gathered outside the Civic Centre in protest against changes the council intoducing to staff including those providing front-line services.
NLC Chief Executive, Simon Driver
In recent weeks council staff were sent a letter from Chief Executive, Simon Driver, outlining the new changes. This will see the removal of the essential car user allowance that enables key staff to use their own vehicle for essential roles within the council. Many of those staff are seen as poviding a vital lifeline for North Lincolnshire’s most vulnerable and needy groups. Staff who currently receive this allowance include those providing services such as care duties for the elderly, the crisis teams (supporting mental health, drug and alcohol and vulnerable children) and social workers. Staff are also required to make emergency visits in the middle of the night, transport ill or vulnerable people and travel extensively throughout the authority.
Some of those demonstrating outside The Civic Centre
The workers would see their payments slashed by 7p a mile, from 52p to 45p, under council plans to save £650,000 a year. Currently, around 900 casual car users are paid 52p per mile for work-related mileages, which under the changes would be reduced to 45p per mile, in line with the rates set by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and currently claimed by councilors. A further 1,000 employees, including home care visitors, are classed as essential car users and are paid a lump sum of £900 per year, plus 40p per mile up to 8,000 miles and 14p per mile after that. Under the proposals, they would lose the lump sum and instead, be paid an overall rate of 45p per mile. The proposals do not affect senior managers and their lease cars.
The Council’s proposed alternative provision is the use of pool cars but this has been deemed unworkable by the Unison Union in such as emergency out of hours calls. It is UNISON’s concern that implementing a pool car system will end up costing more than the ‘savings’ the council is trying to achieve, if done properly.
Regional GMB Union organiser Colin Todd (above) addressed the demonstrators saying, “this change is supposed to save £600,000 a year but this is money out of the pockets of dedicated council staff who provide essential services.”
He continued, “they convieniently forget the last three years pay freeze in local government, the previous three years below inflation pay rises, the 1% cap on future pay rises and the attack on the very sustainable local government pension schemes.”
The unions accuse the council of a sticking plaster approach to their budget cuts and being reckless in pursuing extra savings at the cost of front-line services.
The demonstration didn’t meet the approval of a passing cyclist who shouted, “Get back to work and get the country ticking over!”
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