Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pay Matters – NJC Pay Negotiations 2013-2014 Update

[by Heather Wakfield, UNISON Head of Local Government)

The Trade Union Side of the NJC Executive met the Employers’ Side on 26 February to receive a formal response to our claim for 2013 -2014.

 The Employers responded with two options – set out below. Option 1 is their stated  “preferred option”. As you can see, it includes 1% on all pay points, changes to NJC Mileage Rates (not NJC essential and casual car user allowances) and replacement of the unilateral arbitration clause with a bilateral clause – both from a date to be agreed. It also includes 1 day of additional annual leave on the basic entitlement and extension of the continuous service provision from 5 to 10 years.Pay Freeze

 The second “no strings” option is for 1% on spinal column points from 4 to 10 and 0.6% on all pay points from 11 upwards. Option 2 is included as a default option, in the event that Option 1 is rejected.

NJC COMMITTEE

 The NJC Committee will discuss both “options” at its meeting on 27 February and make a recommendation to members to reject or accept one or both of the “options”. Unite will meet on 28 February to discuss the options. The GMB will meet on 6 March. The Joint Trade Union Side will then meet at a date to be fixed, where its position will be agreed. The NJC Committee has previously confirmed that there will be an all-member branch consultation on any final offer this year, in line with Service Group procedures – in this case, this will be the Trade Union Side’s response to the “options” below.

THE “OPTIONS”

Option 1

  • 1.0% on all pay points from 1 April 2013
  • NJC mileage rates replaced by HMRC Approved Mileage Rates (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/travel.htm) for those councils currently applying NJC rates, from a date to be agreed (Green Book Part 2 Para 12 and Part 3 Para 6 refers)
  • Unilateral arbitration clause replaced by bilateral reference, from date to be agreed (Green Book Constitution Para 17 refers)
  • An increase in the minimum paid annual leave entitlement from 21 days to 22 days, from a date to be agreed (Green Book Part 2 Para 7.2 refers)
  • Increase in continuous service entitlement for the purposes of calculation of entitlements to annual leave, occupational maternity leave / pay and occupational sick pay from return to service within five years to within ten years of the original transfer, from a date to be agreed (Green Book Part 2 Para 14.2 and 14.3 refers)
  • Joint statement providing a list of the issues on which both Sides agree to commence immediate serious discussions.

 (NB: all dates for implementation of changes to be agreed as part of final deal)

 Option 2

  • 1.0% on pay points 4 to 10 from 1 April 2013
  • 0.6% on pay points 11 and above from 1 April 2013

UNISON’s NJC Committee is meeting this moring to decide its recommendation to its 1.6 million local governement members on this pay offer.

[NB There is well writen and argued blog by Heather detailing the issues both from personal prospective of Coventry LG workers, and also from the national prospective here.]

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Local Government Pay Offer 2013/14

In October last year the three unions representing the majority of local government workers submitted the pay claim for 2013/14. The detail of this claim can be found here. However it can be summarised as:

A substantial flat rate increase on all scale points as a step towards the longer term objective of restoring pay levels and achieving the living wage as the bottom NJC spinal column point.

Local government employers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland came forward with two ‘options’ for a pay offer when they met the joint unions yesterday.Pay Graphic

Their preferred option was for 1% on all pay points, with changes to terms and conditions including:

  • changes to NJC mileage rates (not NJC essential and casual car user allowances);
  • replacing the unilateral arbitration clause with a bilateral clause, so that both sides would need to agree to arbitration;
  • one day of additional annual leave on the basic entitlement;
  • the continuous service provision from five to 10 years.

Alternatively, their second option was for a ‘no-strings’ strings offer of a 1% increase on salary point’s four to 10, and a 0.6% increase above that.

The UNISON local government national joint council committee will discuss the options when it meets on 27 February.

The joint trade union side of the NJC will meet after Unite and the GMB have discussed the options on 28 February and 6 March.

UNISON is committed to holding an all-member branch consultation on any final pay offer.

UNISON national secretary Heather Wakefield noted that neither option provides “a full 1% offer in line with government pay policy and – clearly – neither goes any way at all to meeting the objectives of our claim.”

Local government staff are the only public sector workers to have had a 3 year pay freeze. In fact, since 2009 NJV pay has fallen by 13% – it’s now 10% below where it was in 1996.

Unbelievably the lowest paid in local government only earn £6.30 per hour – which is just 10p above the national minimum wage.

We will arrange a Branch Meeting to discuss this claim when more information, and the options for possible action, becomes known.

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Consultation on Electronic Cigarettes in the Workplace

Kensington and Chelsea Council are intending to update their corporate smoking policy on the use of electronic cigarettes in Council buildings and premises. We would like your opinion and comments on this change by noon Wednesday 27 February.

The new policy will include the following prohibition:

This No Smoking Policy also applies to the use of electronic cigarettes. The use of electronic cigarettes is prohibited wherever smoking is prohibited

Electronic cigarettes are a fairly new product to the market and have no restrictions on sale yet – even a child can buy them! They are not covered by the current smoking law because they do not technically produce “smoke” in a way recognised by the writers of the legislation.

It is argued that as they do not burnElectronic Cigarette tobacco the smoker does not inhale tar and the other carcinogens associated with traditional cigarettes. Some commentators go so far as to say there are no health issues with them – just like people said about cigarettes in the old days before medical research was done.

However it cannot be denied that e-cigarettes do contain nicotine. Nicotine is a vaso-constrictor. In other words it can all by itself raise blood pressure and contribute to coronary artery disease. So these things are far from safe. But then eating fatty sugar laden food it bad for health and the Council are not banning people from drinking coke and eating crisps on its premises.

Cig Diagram

All these arguments are pretty immaterial though as it simply boils down to a couple of simple questions: Can the employer legally ban employees from using them? Do our members have any objections to this ban?

In answer to the first question any employer can introduce rules and regulation in its workplace which it feels are necessary and appropriate.

As for the second question we invite your feedback – either leave a comment below or email us on unisonoffice@rbkc.gov.uk and we will ensure we represent your views when we respond to management on this issue next week.

 

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Impact of Welfare Reforms in Kensington and Chelsea

Report on the local impacts of the government’s Welfare Reforms from the K&C Shadow Health & Wellbeing Board

Announcements of government “reforms” to the welfare system have been prevalent in the news since they came into office. The changes include a benefit cap, universal credit, housing payment cap, single room rate, the infamous bedroom tax, Council Tax benefit cap, disbanding of disability living allowance for a new system and many other root and branch changes.

The document here has been prepared by the Kensington andMoney House Chelsea Shadow Health & Wellbeing Board. It not only describes these changes in detail, but also illustrates how families and individuals will be actually effected within this Borough – which of course can be extrapolated to all inner London.

The most striking thing about those in receipt of benefits eally stikes home in this report: That most benefits are not claimed in isolation. That is, a claimant may access help across a range of benefits. So the effects of the changes become magnified. There are some good examples within the document that help to illustrate what people are facing.

It’s quite a long document but it’s worth reading to fully understand the extent of what is happening to the welfare system and how those dependent on it will be affected.

Full report here.

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Helen Davies and the Barnet Spring March

Helen Davis, Chair of the local government branch of Barnet UNISON, spoke at our AGM earlier this week about the huge threat facing her members, and the residents of the borough, by a massive outsourcing scheme the council are planning.

Barnet council are proposing to outsource the key functions of call centre, payroll, information technology and HR for 10 years to privatBarnet_council_not_for_sale_badgee sector company called Capita.

The contract will account for 11% of the council’s spending and 514 posts will transfer to Capita. Of those posts, which account for about 15% of the council’s total workforce, 458 are currently filled – 407 by permanent staff and 51 by people on fixed-term contracts.

But there have been reports that as many as 70% of the transferred staff will lose their jobs[i]: Kari Manovitch, project director for the outsource at Barnet Council, said a major component of £70m savings the council expects to make from the 10-year, £320m deal will come from staff cuts. It will be through these job cuts that Capita aims to make its margin.

The council claims that this outsourcing will give savings of £120million over the 10 years, but these figures are disputed by UNISON and many independents who have studied them.

Local residents also fear that having a multinational company, Capita, take over the lion’s share of the council services with a 10 year tie-in contract will have a detrimental impact on local democracy. This will also result on jobs moving away from Barnet where many council employees currently live.

 Helen asked that we support Barnet UNISON in their fight aBarnet Springgainst these cuts and join them in their Barnet Spring March on Saturday 23 March. This will be a public march from Finchley Central Station to Friern Barnet Community Library. A contingency of Kensington and Chelsea Branch representatives will be going and you are welcome to join us – please let the office know if you are intending to come and we will circulate meeting instruction nearer the time.

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Work Related Expenses

The average employee spends one pound in every eight earned on cost relating to their job, adding up to £1,843 a year.

 Research for Santander Bank found that workers are collectively spending £67 billion a year on work-related expenses such as travel, food, childcare and clothing.Expenses

 According to findings Londoners are the hardest hit, spending an average of $3,561 a year.

 In comparison, West Midlands workers have the lowest work overheads in the UK at £1,668..

 Commuting is the biggest expense costing on average £782 a year on public transport – and this figure was calculated before last month’s rise in rail fares.

 Drivers are even harder hit with £829 spent on fuel and £65 on parking.

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Civil Strike Action

The civil service union, the PCS (Public and Commercial Services union), is to ballot 250,000 members for strike action after the government  refused to negotiate over cuts to pay, pension and working conditions.PCS

 The PCS wrote to the Cabinet Office and the civil service employers before Christmas asking for talks. But it said that service head Bob Kerslake has refused to take part in negotiations.

 As a result the union’s national executive agreed last month to move to an industrial action ballot starting 8 February and closing 4 March. If the government continues to refuse to negotiate, the union will make planes for a series of strikes.

 It is also writing to other unions to seek discussions about the possibility of coordinated or supportive action.

 A plan to review all civil service working conditions, announced last autumn, could lead to longer working hours and fewer family-friendly policies.

 The PCS is calling for a minimum pay rise of 5% or £1200 for all civil servants this year, for the Living Wage to underpin all government contracts and for there to be no cuts to terms and conditions.

 PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said that civil and public servants were working harder than ever to provide services we all rely on, “yet their lives are being made more difficult” by cuts to their jobs, pay and pensions.

 He added that the government “is pressing ahead with cuts that are wrecking our economy, while shamefully trying to deflect the blame for failure onto civil servants.”

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