Trade union UNISON slams Moray Council for imposing charges at two staff car parks
A TRADE union is challenging a decision by Moray Council to impose charges at two of its staff car parks.
Moray UNISON said it was appalled by the move and described it as "yet another attack on a workforce which is already demoralised and overworked".
Under the change, a £20 monthly charge will be imposed for local authority staff to use the Greyfriars Street and Annexe car parks, which flank the council HQ.
Staff approached the union earlier this month after a public information notice outlining the change was published.
Branch secretary Suzanne Wright said: "UNISON will be challenging this decision as it amounts to inequitable treatment of staff.
"The council is imposing this charge on these two car parks penalising staff who work at HQ.
"The only rationale for this decision is that these are the most financially lucrative sites and the council knows it will face great hostility if it tries to impose it across other areas of the estate, such as schools.
"We know that both the council leader Graham Leadbitter and the leader of the Tory Group on the Council, Tim Eagle, have previously stated they do not believe the proposal which allows for councils to levy workplace parking charges is appropriate for Moray, as the area is primarily rural and has a poor public transport infrastructure, yet councillors are happy to impose charges on a specific group of its own employees.
"This is yet another attack on a workforce which is already demoralised and overworked and will do nothing to assuage the feelings of many employees that the Council simply does not care."
The decision was taken as part of the local authority's February budget and is expected to generate £33,000 over the 2019/20 financial year.
Councillor Leadbitter said: "As all council staff and people across Moray are aware, the budget position of the council has been extremely challenging and will continue to be challenging through the next budget as well.
"There have been many decisions that have reduced or even removed council services and while we recognise that these charges are difficult it is a decision that mitigates even more service cuts and job cuts in the current budget period. As with all of our budget decisions this is not something we took lightly."
Cllr Leadbitter said the issue of a Moray-wide workplace parking levy, which was ruled out by the administration in February, was a different matter.
As part of the Scottish Government's budget deal, powers will be handed to each of Scotland’s 32 councils to implement a levy on workplace parking slots if they choose.
This would see employers pay an annual tax to the council for every parking space they provide for employees. Employers then choose whether to pass on the cost to their staff.