Social workers at Derby Council are refusing to use their cars to visit clients after bosses decided to cut travel allowances.
The industrial action is entering its second week after Unison members at the council voted 2:1 in favour of the protest at the end of May.
The council is changing its travel allowances and mileage rates for up to 2,000 members of staff in a bid to save money and cut carbon emissions.
But the decision angered union members, and an estimated 400 members of council staff, including at least 200 social care workers, have refused to use their cars for any work-related purpose since 8 June. Instead they are using cars from a pool of council-owned vehicles or taking public transport.
Charlie Carruth, regional organiser for Unison, said about 800 of the union’s members at Derby Council use their cars daily or at least twice or three times a week and are therefore classed as “essential users”.
“Social workers and social care staff will be hardest hit by this decision because they use their vehicles more,” said Carruth.
“They see the use of cars as an extension of their jobs, so to be told it’s a luxury really did stick in their throats a bit.”
The council first proposed to take away the monthly car allowance payments of just under £100 in autumn last year. The scheme is to be replaced by a flat rate of 40p per mile for essential users.
Responding to the ongoing industrial action, Sean Marshal, cabinet member for resources at Derby Council, said: “I want to assure the public that we are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact of this industrial action.
“We have established a pool of cars and other appropriate transport solutions for our employees so that the disruption to our frontline services is minimised.”
Nearly half (49%) of Unison’s members were in favour of a full strike, which has not been ruled out if the dispute continues.
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