Council staff told: 'Accept cuts to mileage costs or face sack'
Three thousand car-owning employees of North Lincolnshire Council face being dismissed and reinstated under a new contract – unless they accept a cut in their mileage allowance.
The dismissal threat came from the authority's chief executive Simon Driver in an open letter attached to their monthly pay packets.
In the letter, Mr Driver insists the mileage changes – aimed at saving taxpayers more than £600,000 a year by cutting mileage payments from 52p to 45p a mile – have to be implemented by October 1.
Mr Driver said: "We intend to dismiss and re-engage our employees should agreement not be reached on these changes.
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"This is not a step we wish to take and acceptance of these changes to mileage rates will mean this will not be necessary.
"All employees would then receive a new contract of employment with the council which will include the amended terms and conditions relating to payment of mileage."
The 2,000-strong Unison branch has warned that if the threat was carried out, there could be hundreds of claims for unfair dismissal from sacked employees and the withdrawal of many private cars for council work.
The council, faced with having to save around £25 million by 2014-15, is proposing to remove the essential user lump sum for car owners and to introduce a standard rate of 45p per mile for both essential and casual users.
But Unison spokesman Matthew Clarke said: "Without payment of this allowance, staff will be expected to subsidise the local authority to use their own cars.
"However, there are many staff receiving the payment who are low paid and many will not be able to afford their cars without the allowance."
As an alternative to employee vehicles, the council has proposed the use of a pool car system but the unions have rejected the idea as "unworkable" and costing more than the targeted savings.
A council spokesman said: "Dismissal and re-engagement of employees is the due legal process necessary in order to make changes to terms and conditions of employment and then only in the event that agreement could not be reached.
"We will continue working hard with employees and trade unions to mitigate the effects of these proposals."