Unite Community branches will build People Power campaign to defeat proposal
Union will engage with Education & Library Board buses drivers to determine appropriate response
January 14th: Reacting to reports that the Education Authority is considering imposing charges on families for the transport of children to school, Unite’s Regional Officer with responsibility for ELB drivers, Gareth Scott said:
“Reports that the Education Authority is considering bringing forward charges of between £50 and £200 a child from September 2017 as a result of swingeing cuts made to their budget by the NI Executive parties are deeply alarming.
“Unite is completely opposed to this proposal which is unfair and will represent a further tax on families. The impact of a flat rate charge will be highly regressive and impact those on lowest incomes disproportionately. If those on benefits are excluded then the charges will fall on the just-about managing working families and will be equally objectionable. In addition, this measure will also constitute a stealth tax on rural communities who are most dependent on school transport services.
“We will be engaging with our membership among the Education and Library Board drivers to determine our most appropriate response to this threat. Our drivers have a strong commitment to defending free public transport for children going to school”, Mr Scott said.
Unite in the Community Regional Coordinator, Albert Hewitt, offered the active support of his community membership branches in building a campaign to defeat the proposal:
“This proposal is being sneaked in under the shadow of an increasingly divisive election; however, Unite in the community branches will work to ensure that it becomes a live election issue for all parties.
“Unless the NI Executive intervenes to halt this and provides adequate funding for school transport, our branches will work with drivers, parents, children, schools, local communities and local trades councils to build a people power campaign to defeat this proposal.
“There’s hundreds of millions spare to cut corporation tax, to subsidise wood burners and for unnecessary voluntary exit schemes but we are told there’s no money when it comes to our schools, our hospitals or our buses. It’s time for a different political agenda in Stormont”, Mr Hewitt finished.