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Last week I came across a fascinating guide published by UNISON Labour Link in our south west region....
Last week I came across a fascinating guide published by UNISON Labour Link in our south west region.

Labour Link is the vehicle for much of UNISON's work with the Labour Party. The guide, Bargaining for better green staff travel, is designed to help union members and activists address the growing problems faced travelling to work. These range from time lost in traffic jams to safety, stress, financial costs and health effects.

UNISON supports green staff travel plans as a part of the government's strategy to tackle the social, environmental and health effects of travel by car.

The guide comes when more and more employers in both the private and public sectors are confronting staff with proposals that worsen their conditions in relation to car allowances and parking. These are often dressed up as part of a green plan, but are usually little more than crude cost cutting. The guide advises activists to turn these proposals to all round advantage by calling for a fully worked out green staff travel plan.

It explains the responsibilities of councils to produce local transport plans and how unions and their members can lobby for plans that make travel to work better and cheaper.

The guide helpfully spells out the benefits and barriers associated with alternative modes of transport and, more importantly, how the barriers can be tackled. For example, to make car-sharing schemes more attractive, it suggests guaranteed rides home in emergencies and preferential car parking arrangements.

Similar benefits, barriers and carrots are suggested to promote: cycling, such as financial incentives and cycle pools; walking, such as improved routes and showers; and public transport, such as fare discounts and bus lanes.

The guide suggests ways

of taking the sting out of car parking restrictions and charges, with schemes for fairer access based on need not status, and using the income generated to improve alternative options.

The advice is backed up with case studies illustrating what has been achieved in practice.

At a time when we are increasingly preoccupied with the problems of privatisation and the private finance initiative, the guide is a reminder of the importance to members of other bread-and-butter issues and the vital role that unions have in tackling them.

Malcolm Wing

National secretary, UNISON

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