The Unions and their unrealistic demands

April 23, 2011 11:56 PM

The public finances are in a mess, so you’d be forgiven for thinking all councils were looking at reducing their spending. And many are, no doubt. To help the process, you’d have thought other groups like unions would be helping to suggest areas of spending to cut back in order to protect vital frontline services and their members. But that’s wishful thinking. Unison, Unite and GMB have sent a joint email around to councillors asking them to agree to a range of measures that will actually damage their members’ interests in the long run.

In their email they say:

“Across the UK, sick leave, holiday pay, car allowances, redundancy and unsocial hours payments – already the lowest in the public sector - are also under attack. While petrol prices soar, the Local Government Employers have refused to carry out the annual review of car allowances. Many of our members can no longer afford to use their cars for work. Others are finding themselves without occupational sick pay for up to six months of illness. Those who work hard at night or at weekends to provide your council’s services are being forced to do so on flat rates - without any recognition of the disruption to their family lives or sleep!”


Since releasing our report last week on council mileage allowances, I have been contacted by many councils who say they are lowering their rates to bring them in line with the 45p

[caption id="attachment_28091" align="alignright" width="257" caption="Are union bosses living on another planet?"][/caption]

recommended by the taxman. Clearly they regard this as an easy saving to make. But the letter signed by the unions appears to be calling for an increase to the current agreed rate of 65p per mile. A rate that far exceeds the cost of motoring, as our report outlined. Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing this bill when many of them can themselves only claim up to the 45p tax-free rate, and very often below this.

 

Furthermore the email not only calls for an end to the public sector pay freeze, but an increase over the next two years, a completely unrealistic demand. Considering the fragility of the country’s finances and the financial settlement councils are dealing with, the unions don’t seem to be living in the real world.

Our Director Matthew Sinclair has more thoughts on this, as you may have seen in the Daily Mail:

“Although the big unions defend so many unreasonable perks, taxpayers will still be shocked that they are still trying to look after gold-plated mileage payments and secure fresh hikes in their pay. The pay freeze in place in the public sector is vital to get a handle on the deficit. It is utterly irresponsible for the unions to be putting this kind of pressure on councillors as the public sector needs to tighten its belt, like the private sector has, after years of excess. Times may be hard but wages in the public sector outstrip those in the private sector, so it’s disingenuous for unions to try and plead poverty on behalf of their members. To even think of increasing mileage payments, instead of cutting them to 45 pence a mile or less, betrays a mindset completely out of touch with reality. The unions need to be more reasonable or the end result will be more of their members out of work and more of British taxpayers’ money spent paying the interest on a bloated national debt.”

The public finances are in a mess, so you’d be forgiven for thinking all councils were looking at reducing their spending. And many are, no doubt. To help the process, you’d have thought other groups like unions would be helping to suggest areas of spending to cut back in order to protect vital frontline services and their members. But that’s wishful thinking. Unison, Unite and GMB have sent a joint email around to councillors asking them to agree to a range of measures that will actually damage their members’ interests in the long run.

In their email they say:

“Across the UK, sick leave, holiday pay, car allowances, redundancy and unsocial hours payments – already the lowest in the public sector - are also under attack. While petrol prices soar, the Local Government Employers have refused to carry out the annual review of car allowances. Many of our members can no longer afford to use their cars for work. Others are finding themselves without occupational sick pay for up to six months of illness. Those who work hard at night or at weekends to provide your council’s services are being forced to do so on flat rates - without any recognition of the disruption to their family lives or sleep!”


Since releasing our report last week on council mileage allowances, I have been contacted by many councils who say they are lowering their rates to bring them in line with the 45p

[caption id="attachment_28091" align="alignright" width="257" caption="Are union bosses living on another planet?"][/caption]

recommended by the taxman. Clearly they regard this as an easy saving to make. But the letter signed by the unions appears to be calling for an increase to the current agreed rate of 65p per mile. A rate that far exceeds the cost of motoring, as our report outlined. Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing this bill when many of them can themselves only claim up to the 45p tax-free rate, and very often below this.

 

Furthermore the email not only calls for an end to the public sector pay freeze, but an increase over the next two years, a completely unrealistic demand. Considering the fragility of the country’s finances and the financial settlement councils are dealing with, the unions don’t seem to be living in the real world.

Our Director Matthew Sinclair has more thoughts on this, as you may have seen in the Daily Mail:

“Although the big unions defend so many unreasonable perks, taxpayers will still be shocked that they are still trying to look after gold-plated mileage payments and secure fresh hikes in their pay. The pay freeze in place in the public sector is vital to get a handle on the deficit. It is utterly irresponsible for the unions to be putting this kind of pressure on councillors as the public sector needs to tighten its belt, like the private sector has, after years of excess. Times may be hard but wages in the public sector outstrip those in the private sector, so it’s disingenuous for unions to try and plead poverty on behalf of their members. To even think of increasing mileage payments, instead of cutting them to 45 pence a mile or less, betrays a mindset completely out of touch with reality. The unions need to be more reasonable or the end result will be more of their members out of work and more of British taxpayers’ money spent paying the interest on a bloated national debt.”

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