Dave Prentis, general secretary of UNISON has sent a goodwill message to UNISON workers engaged in industrial action at Rhondda Cynon Taf council (RCT). UNISON Cymru Wales is to lobby the full RCT cabinet at 5pm today (Wednesday), over the decision to slash the mileage allowance for its employees travelling around the community for work.
Council workers stand to lose up to £960 a year as RCT council broke with nationally recognised HM Revenue and Customs guidelines on fair mileage rates that stipulate a rate of 45p per mile rate. It has reduced the allowance to 35p per mile. Slashing the allowance means it is no longer affordable for staff to use their own cars, and as a result UNISON members throughout the council are refusing to use their cars for work.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
“We send a warm message of solidarity to the UNISON members involved. Rhondda Cynon Taf was wrong to plug a budget shortfall by attacking the conditions of its dedicated public service employees. We call for early discussions to end this dispute and for the council to pay the recognised mileage rate. Council workers have already been hit hard in their pockets, to penalise them yet further is mean-spirited in the extreme.
Peter Crews UNISON RCT branch secretary, said,
“Members of UNISON will be protesting outside the council chamber and lobbying councillors as they arrive for the meeting today. RCT has become the only Welsh council not to offer a reasonable mileage allowance and we have shown that their foolish ‘cost-saving’ decision is actually more expensive for the taxpayer. RCT’s social workers didn’t go into the profession to sit around on buses all day. Let them do the job they love, travelling around easily helping vulnerable members of society.”
A comprehensive UNISON dossier proves forcing council workers to use public transport in the course of their jobs, actually increases the cost to the public purse. Waiting for buses also wastes the time of these busy workers and means they have less time to spend on their jobs helping vulnerable members of the public.
Additionally, the council now has to pay staff as they are waiting at bus stops; longer working hours means it is paying out more wages and travel expenses.
UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary Margaret Thomas, has written to RCT council leader councillor Andrew Morgan requesting urgent discussions to resolve the dispute.
NOTES TO EDITORS
UNISON members will protest outside the RCT council chamber and lobby councillors arriving for the meeting on Wednesday 30 September, 17.00.
UNISON’s dossier RCT’s False Economy is attached. The dossier complied from members’ case studies reveals: –
- Social worker home visits take twice as long; typically one hour visits are now two hours, two hour visits are now four hours
- More travel time means social workers have less time to see people and to write reports up on their clients
- Cancelled visits due to limited travel services and time constraints
- Transporting equipment or providing lifts for clients becomes impracticable
- Risks to personal safety as staff on home visits must walk along busy roads with no pavements and through isolated underpasses
- UNISON commenced indefinite industrial action on 30 July with staff refusing to use private cars for work.
- RCT broke with the HMRC recommended rate of 45p per mile for staff to use their own cars for council business. The new rate of 35p per mile does not cover the cost of maintenance, tax, and insurance, meaning that many staff can no longer afford to provide a car for work.
- Social Worker Adult Services will lose £456 per year based upon an average driving of 380 miles a month (a £38 per month loss with the 10p reduction in mileage allowance, equivalent to £456 a year)
- Social Worker Child Care Services will lose £480 per year based upon an average driving of 400 miles a month (a £40 per month loss, equivalent to £480 per year)
- Other social work team members will lose up to £960 per year based upon an average driving of 800 miles a month (a £80 per month loss, equivalent to £960)
- An assessor/care manager will lose £300 per year based upon an average driving of 250 miles a month (a £25 per month loss, equivalent to £300 per year)
- A highways engineer (undertaking routine highway maintenance, larger construction schemes and responding to emergencies on the highway including road traffic collisions, flooding and fallen trees) will lose £480 per year based upon an average driving of 400 miles a month (a £40 per month loss, equivalent to £480 per year)
Peter Crews, RCT branch secretary on 01443 400401 or 07811 134088
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer on 07816 538397