We have reached a critical time in the ongoing dispute between UNISON and Blackpool Council in relation to the proposed removal of Essential Car User allowance. The Council has declared that consultation has been exhausted and has issued letters seeking to encourage staff to vary terms and conditions of employment by means of a buy-out. Compared to the allowance paid each year, the offer is paltry - a one-off payment of £625 (£500 net).
(An attachment to this email outlines the issues in more detail, but below are the crucial issues.)
UNISON’S RESPONSE is that our only option now is to take some form of industrial action. If the Council believes that the time for talking is over then all our members effected – whether that is those currently in receipt of ECU or those who have had it withdrawn – need to stand united against this attempt to permanently remove it. We are moving to a formal industrial action ballot and are preparing for this as I write.
TRADE UNION MEMBERS CAN DEMONSTRATE THEIR POWER by taking industrial action. It is the responsibility of every trade unionist to defend each other collectively. We are nothing unless we show that we are prepared to take united action.
OUR OBJECTIVE has always been to retain the allowance for those who are currently in receipt of it AND to regain it for those who had it removed last year but still need a vehicle for their job.
WE NEED TO STAND UNITED and use the only means at our disposal to demonstrate to the Council that their actions are counter-productive.
THE LETTER FROM NEIL JACK has been written only to those who are currently in receipt of ECU. We strongly urge UNISON members to NOT sign to agree the variation to your contract. Each member must take responsibility for their decision but we must make clear that each signed letter weakens our ability to take effective action. The fewer letters signed, the less likely the Council are to ‘dismiss and re-engage’ staff.
MEETING COUNCIL LEADER: A meeting is scheduled for the 12th of June between the trade unions and the Council Leader and other councillors. This is the last opportunity to resolve the issue. The deadline for signing up to the buy-out is the 8th of June. Therefore, if substantial numbers of staff have signed then that could fatally undermine our chances of success either in talks but particularly in taking industrial action.
WHAT NEXT? The 92% of members who voted in the recent indicative ballot wanted to take some form of industrial action. An effective form of action would, for example, be for members to not use their vehicle for Council business.
WHAT WOULD THIS INVOLVE? Each member would make clear to their department that if they are required to make journeys as part of their work then they will NOT use their own vehicle. It is then for the Council to suggest which form of alternative transport will be used. Members need to insist that the department pays in advance for any trips. Such journeys could include those taken by taxi, bus and train, and may include overnight stays etc.
THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR DELIVERING A SERVICE is the Council’s. There should be no pressure put on individuals to use their own cars and members need to report any such incidents to UNISON immediately.