Council staff driven to despair by mileage change

Suffolk County Council workers rallied outside Endeavour House today for a UNISON protest against a new mileage policy that will take money from some of the lowest paid staff.

Local Labour councillors and representatives of Ipswich TUC and Unite braved the wind and rain to join the demonstration outside Suffolk County Council HQ.

Protesters held exhibition boards plastered with staff concerns about the changes, from a UNISON consultation. Feedback was overwhelmingly negative about the proposal.

The UNISON survey closed last week with 98% of members backing a campaign against the proposals. Even staff walking past the protest joined up to UNISON and took part.

Proposals would build in a fictional commute to workers’ mileage allowance, significantly reducing the amount that can be claimed, even where staff did not previously go into the office.

The new policy disproportionally affects people who live further away from their office and in some extreme cases would stop staff being able to claim for mileage even though they would be doing serval work visits that day.

UNISON members hold flags outside Suffolk County Council's headquarters

UNISON Suffolk County branch secretary Neil Bland said the union would continue “battling against” the proposals.

“These would affect the low-paid workers and the lowest earners the most.”

Former Ipswich MP Sandy Martin joined the protest, saying: “Travelling to work is part of the job for many council workers. It is ridiculous to expect front-line workers not to be paid for their job.

“This is of no help to some of the lowest paid people working for Suffolk County Council but it’s no help to the people of Suffolk either. We have a real shortage of social workers, occupational therapists and many other front line jobs that would be impacted by this.

“It is ridiculous. The county council needs to think again. And we need to pay front line workers for every part of the job they do.”