Social workers may quit in face of congestion charges

Unison has warned London mayor Ken Livingstone that the
introduction of congestion charges in February could force huge
numbers of public sector workers to quit their jobs,
writes Sally Gillen.

In a letter sent this week, the union has urged Livingstone to
reconsider the £5 daily charge for travelling into central
London, until an impact assessment has been carried out.

Under the plans, social workers employed by the eight councils
which fall within the charging zone, will be among those whose jobs
are not considered vital, and who will therefore not be eligible
for exemption.

The union fears that the introduction of the scheme will mean
councils will be forced to foot bills of millions of pounds for its
workers who use cars as part of their work.

But is has also raised concerns that those workers who need to
use a car to travel to work and would have to pay the costs
themselves, will decide to take up jobs outside the capital’s

Unison’s greater London regional secretary Nick Wright
said: “Unison fears the trickle of resignations from vital
frontline services will become a flood when congestion charging
begins in February.

“The vast majority of public sector workers are not well paid
and the effective freezing of London weighting by many employers
has compounded the problems of recruitment and retention,” he

Hundreds of voluntary and community groups based within the zone
may also be expected to pay a daily charge, prompting fears from
within the sector that it will lose staff and volunteers

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