Hull unions flexing their muscles

October 17, 2012 11:52 AM

Hull City Council needs to find savings of £33 million over the next two years. As I have previously reported, senior councillors have repeatedly stated they will enter negotiations with the unions on reducing things like the mileage rate paid to staff, which is currently a maximum of 65p per mile - 20p higher than HMRC's recommended rate.

The council wants to see the overtime bill - currently standing at £4 million a year - slashed; a reduction in the £2.3 car allowances bill; and wants more flexible working.

What the council is proposing is what any other business would be doing to reduce costs. Not only will these savings help the council balance its books, they will also help protect some jobs. The unions are not happy with this though, and it looks like they are digging in for a battle. In a post written in September, I quoted UNISON branch secretary, Adrian Kennett, who said reducing mileage rates to 45p per mile was unacceptable as “comparisons with cut-throat private sector and cowboy providers are demeaning and unnecessary.” If that's what he thinks about reducing mileage rates, goodness knows how he will react in negotiations to reduce the overtime bill.

This subject was covered on BBC Look North last night. The report included interviews with Interim Chief Executive, Darryl Stephenson; Mike Whale, Chair, Hull City Council Trades' Unions; and me. Mr Whale says tinkering with terms and conditions is not going to save £33 million over the next two years. Although he is correct, he is also missing the point. It will go some way to saving £33 million, and if he and his union colleagues are genuinely interested in their members' jobs, they have to accept reducing high mileage rates and slashing the overtime bill, means fewer redundancies.

There are also some union officials who want to go back to a 1980s Liverpool scenario, and are encouraging the council leader to set an illegal budget. The unions are also planning a demonstration outside the Guildhall on Thursday morning when the full council meets.

I have a feeling this story is going to run for many more months.

 Hull City Council needs to find savings of £33 million over the next two years. As I have previously reported, senior councillors have repeatedly stated they will enter negotiations with the unions on reducing things like the mileage rate paid to staff, which is currently a maximum of 65p per mile - 20p higher than HMRC's recommended rate.

The council wants to see the overtime bill - currently standing at £4 million a year - slashed; a reduction in the £2.3 car allowances bill; and wants more flexible working.

What the council is proposing is what any other business would be doing to reduce costs. Not only will these savings help the council balance its books, they will also help protect some jobs. The unions are not happy with this though, and it looks like they are digging in for a battle. In a post written in September, I quoted UNISON branch secretary, Adrian Kennett, who said reducing mileage rates to 45p per mile was unacceptable as “comparisons with cut-throat private sector and cowboy providers are demeaning and unnecessary.” If that's what he thinks about reducing mileage rates, goodness knows how he will react in negotiations to reduce the overtime bill.

This subject was covered on BBC Look North last night. The report included interviews with Interim Chief Executive, Darryl Stephenson; Mike Whale, Chair, Hull City Council Trades' Unions; and me. Mr Whale says tinkering with terms and conditions is not going to save £33 million over the next two years. Although he is correct, he is also missing the point. It will go some way to saving £33 million, and if he and his union colleagues are genuinely interested in their members' jobs, they have to accept reducing high mileage rates and slashing the overtime bill, means fewer redundancies.

There are also some union officials who want to go back to a 1980s Liverpool scenario, and are encouraging the council leader to set an illegal budget. The unions are also planning a demonstration outside the Guildhall on Thursday morning when the full council meets.

I have a feeling this story is going to run for many more months.

 

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