Questions are being asked whether plans by Somerset county council to charge its staff £250-a-year to park at the council’s Taunton headquarters could be a way to force workers to leave the authority.
Unite, the country’s largest union, points out that the authority has conceded that some of the 800 staff affected could resign if the charges are introduced in September. The union said that there would be only permits available for 267 staff out of the 800 at any one time.
Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer said: “Questions have to be asked whether or not there is a hidden agenda here which forces employees to leave on their own accord, saving the council redundancy payments and reducing its workforce.
“Somerset is a very rural county and people need their cars to get to work at county hall because of the threadbare nature of public transport.
"The paltry one per cent pay rise in April has already been wiped out by the rise in national insurance so this parking charge is a pay cut made after years of enforced austerity.
“We call on the county council to scrap this proposal as a way of retaining dedicated workers who keep increasingly stretched public services, such as social care, functioning efficiently on a daily basis.
“Staff morale has been hit by this misguided announcement, especially as the council also admits that there is no guarantee of a parking space, even if staff fork out £250.
“In reputational terms, the council has scored an own goal; especially if councillors themselves find a way of avoiding this charge by claiming it back on expenses.”
A council memo to staff said: “A parking charge for all permits, except for Blue Badge holders, will be introduced. An annual charge of £250 is proposed (for five days a week parking). Payments will be deducted from salary on a monthly basis. The changes will take effect later in 2016.”
The proposal is now out for consultation.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.