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The nine month car allowance dispute was settled last week with the acceptance of a new package which the employers...
The nine month car allowance dispute was settled last week with the acceptance of a new package which the employers say will eventually save local government more than £100 million a year.

Unison called off industrial action which began in January and members returned to normal working on Monday. The union said this week branches would be checking there was no victimisation of people who took industrial action and that councils are making suitable arrangements for clearing backlogs of work.

The employers side was split over whether to agree to the proposed deal, thrashed out by negotiators last month. But the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, which opposed the deal, was outvoted. The AMA was unhappy about the transitional arrangements to protect existing car allowance recipients which meant savings would not be achieved until April 1996. The employers estimate the car allowance costs local government £600 million a year. AMA Secretary Rodney Brooke wrote to all metropolitan councils suggesting they could negotiate modified transitional arrangements locally. He also proposes ways of using the flexibility in the package to make savings quicker. 'The dispute has undoubtedly brought home to authorities the cost of the car scheme and the fact that not all essential users are 'essential', and that not all journeys are necessary and that the provision of other means of transport may be cheaper', the letter says.

'In addition authorities have questioned why they should pay for the use of a 'large' car as opposed to a small one. Thus a review of your transport policy across the authority, if you have not already done so, might now be beneficial'.

Unison negotiator Alison Mitchell said: 'It is a compromise package. Both sides had to accept changes they did not want. It has shown we are able to reach agreement in these kind of difficult negotiations and that is good for national bargaining generally'. While existing car users will have their allowances protected, new rates will be introduced for new users.

The most generous lump sum allowance available to an essential car user will be £723, compared to the £1,035 avialable for existing users. The top mileage rate available to new casual users will be 40p.

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