Staff halt car use as Welsh council slashes mileage rate

UNISON Cymru/Wales members employed by Rhondda Cynon Taff Council have begun industrial action short of strike, after the council slashed the milage rate.

Members are withdrawing their private cars from use for any council business after the decision.

The members include social workers, care managers and highways engineers, who have to travel by car in the course of their jobs, yet could now lose hundreds of pounds a year.

Branch secretary Peter Crews explained that the council had “broken HMRC guidelines stipulating a rate of 45p per mile” by cutting the rate to 35p a mile.

It is now “the only council in Wales not to pay a reasonable amount for mileage.”

And he continued: “The staff penalised include those helping the most vulnerable in society, and the council’s irresponsible move now means that employees cannot afford to use their own cars, as fuel and insurance costs outweigh the lower 35p rate.

“We don’t take industrial action lightly, but aside from the unfairness of a council attacking the conditions of its dedicated public service employees to plug a budget shortfall, council employees are still suffering reduced earnings after years of pay freezes.”

Analysis by UNISON has shown that a social worker in child care services will lose £480 a year as a result of the move, a social worker in adult services will lose £456 per year, while other social worker team members will lose up to £960.

An assessor/care manager will lose £300 per year and a highways engineer stands to lose £480 a year.

UNISON is urging the council to return to the negotiating table at the earliest opportunity for meaningful discussions.