Published August 1, 2019 at 9:00
You will be aware that the Council is currently consulting on the removal of the Essential Car User (ECU) Allowance and that some staff have already been notified that they will lose the allowance as they no longer meet the criteria.
Back in October 2018 the Council presented a number of savings proposals to the trade unions – by savings proposals we mean cuts to terms and conditions. Most of these have not progressed and UNISON has made it clear to the Council that we will not be agreeing to cuts to terms and conditions. In any event members always get the final say.
UNISON’s position on ECU was that the current criteria (pre April 2019) was reasonable and that the Council should apply it fairly and consistently. This would likely have delivered some saving as everyone was aware that there were some staff in receipt of ECU for whom it was not essential that they provide a car for work and in reality rarely used their car. ECU is tool for the job and not a perk.
ECU is a national term and condition of employment contained in the Green Book and UNISON believe that ECU should be retained as it is blindingly obvious that for certain jobs a car is essential to carry out the role day to day. The allowance received is there to ensure that the staff member is compensated and in exchange the staff member is obliged to provide a car for work.
The Council have however continued to seek to remove ECU as it would save the Council hundreds of thousands of pounds. UNISON do not dispute the financial challenges facing the Council and for that matter many Council’s across the Country as a result of unnecessary and damaging central Government cuts. However attacking staff terms and conditions, who are already asked to do more with and for less, is not the solution.
The Council have pressed ahead with worsening the ECU criteria despite robust representations from UNISON. The desire to save money outweighing common sense. The Council have applied this worsened criteria without UNISON agreement and notified hundreds of staff that they will lose ECU. For anyone still in receipt of ECU the Council is consulting on its removal in full.
The Council have now extended the consultation on the removal of ECU until 30 September 2019. The Council have also extended the notice periods for those on notice to lose ECU to 31 December 2019.
The Council would like the trade unions to agree to the removal of ECU. There is no reason why UNISON would agree to anything which makes members worse off. The Council would like UNISON to consider a package which involves ECU removal – this might include improving parking costs for all staff. Ultimately this is about saving money and so any package will make staff worse off overall and seeking to set off a larger group of staff against those in receipt of ECU is unacceptable.
UNISON believe that ECU should be retained on a needs basis – simply are the duties of a job such that it is essential that the individual has a car at their disposal whenever required and if so that individual should receive ECU for the efficient performance of their duties. Ultimately UNISON will have a full consultation with members on any proposals or ideas put forward by the Council.
UNISON’s advice to members who have ECU removed is that you should no longer use your car for work as you are no longer contractually required to do so. If the Council say it is not essential by removing your ECU then don’t provide your car for work.
Please contact the Branch if you have any questions or require further information.