Members at Wigan Council who perform key roles as social workers, youth workers, careers advisers and re-ablement workers have been taking industrial action over cuts to the Essential Car Users’ Allowance scheme.
Since 6 May affected UNISON members have been boycotting the use of their cars and a one day strike took place today (15 May).
The Council are attempting to cut costs by reducing the number of staff who are covered by the scheme. The allowance is paid to staff who need to use their own vehicles to perform their jobs, and covers costs including insuring a car for business-use. Around 300 UNISON members have been told they are either no longer eligible to receive the allowance or, if they do receive it, that it can be removed at any given time.
Neal Linsky, UNISON Regional Organiser has warned that the Council’s suggestion that staff use public transport is unworkable and impractical:
“Staff have to carry confidential documents and bulky equipment around the Borough in the course of their daily work. It is simply not safe, practical or cost-effective to insist that staff use buses and taxis.
“If staff are not mobile then visits to the most vulnerable become problematic due to increased travel time. The decision to withhold the allowance has not been properly thought through and will may end up costing the Council more money than it does at present.
“This cut will have a very damaging effect on services across the Borough and the Council needs to find a sensible way forward.”