Monthly Archives: April 2013

Pay Update – Employers’ New Offer

Following UNISON’s rejection of the two ‘options’ in first pay offer, the Local Government Employers (LGE) have returned with a final offer in writing on 25 April (see here).

The revised offer is:

  • 1% on all pay points from 1 April 2013
  • Deletion of scale point 4 (the bottom pay point) from 1 October 2013

We think given that inflation is 3.5% and has been around this level for the last four years this offer represents a pay cut in real terms – in fact effectively a 13% paycut.

Time To Take A Stand

English councils have increased their reserves by £4.5bn over the last five years to almost £13bn, despite cuts to funding. The money is there to pay for a decent pay increase for all local government workers and therefore we believe that the employer needs to offer a  substantial pay increase. Only this can address the scandelous issue of low pay (of the working poor), the growing cost of living and go some way to redress almost half a decade of wage repression.

Impact on Scale Points

The impact of the offer on each scale point can be seen in the indicative scales here.

There are around 28,000 employees – mostly women working part-time – onPay Matters scale point 4, who would move onto the revised scale point 5 in October. This would mean a 1% increase for them between April and 30 September and a further 1.4% increase on 1 October. Overall they would move from £6.30 to £6.45 – a 2.4% increase.

Negotiation Process

In their letter to the Joint Trade Union Side Secretaries, the LGE made a number of other points:

  • The NJC is “the body best placed to deal with relevant employment issues arising from the huge amount of change that local government is undergoing…”
  • They are disappointed that the unions “have been unable to consider even the most minor elements of reform”
  • Because the unions have not been willing to negotiate ‘reform’ of the Green Book, it is “highly probable that the NJC will find itself in a situation whereby future national negotiations are held solely on the issue of pay, unless you significantly alter your stance”
  • The  employers “ value highly” joint work on the LGPS, the NJC JE scheme, the public health transfer and pay and career development for social workers
  • The employers “will shortly be seeking the views of councils and regional employers on the future ability of the national machinery to reform terms and conditions” and will have further discussions with the unions on this

While we welcome the LGE’s continued commitment to the NJC, we would make the following points in response to the Employers’ suggestion that the unions have not been prepared to engage in negotiations over Green Book conditions:

  • NJC conditions are the worst in the public sector. Basic annual leave is just above the statutory minimum and worse than every other sector. The same applies to parental rights
  • The NJC Committee and the Trade Union Side have both agreed  that the unions should not enter into negotiations at NJC level to cut Part 2 conditions – sick pay, annual leave or car allowances
  • Half of councils have ended NJC mileage allowances and moved our members onto HMRC rates. For those who do significant mileage as part of their jobs, this means subsidising their employer on top of a three-year pay freeze and other cuts to conditions
  • Around 30% of councils have cut unsocial hours payments and/or overtime pay – with a massive effect on low paid women workers in particular
  • Over 25% of councils have cut pay at a local level and others have imposed unpaid annual leave
  • More and more councils are charging for car parking – adding insult to pay cut misery
  • UNISON and the other unions have made proposals to improve parental rights, establish a ‘gender agenda’ for local government and a green transport policy that properly rewards members for use of cars, while including public transport, bikes and motor bikes
  • The LGE response has been to say that any improvements would have to be funded by cuts elsewhere and would not be applied to councils who have already cut those conditions!!! Effectively, they would not become part of the Green Book
  • The allegation that we have not been prepared to discuss ‘reform’ is untrue, but we have not been provided with the opportunity to discuss positive reform to bring NJC workers in line with other public sector groups. ‘Reform’ for the LGE means ‘cuts’.  For UNISON, it means negotiating for fairness and equality across the public sector

The role of the NJC

  • Like the employers, UNISON strongly supports sector-wide bargaining in local government through the NJC because it is the most likely way to ensure the same pay for the same jobs across Regions and local labour markets and protect those in low paying areas
  • It also ensures that we have recognition with councils within the NJC and can continue constructive  dialogue at local level as well as at NJC level
  • Having the NJC also means that we can keep a focus on equal pay and equality issues in a consistent way across local government and within councils. The break-up of the NJC would open up the potential for massive pay inequality and would make local government vulnerable to equal pay litigation – just as the last wave costing £2 billion dies down
  • However, the NJC has failed to deliver decent pay for our members – even during periods when the employers could have taken steps to help NJC workers catch up. Instead, pay fell below inflation in 8 of the last 16 years – leaving us in the sorry state we are in now
  • We want an NJC that provides the focus for positive and constructive bargaining – not just on pay, but on training, career development, equality issues and decent conditions. We have consistently said that we want the NJC to  negotiate on these issues, but the employers have made no move to help this happen
  • UNISON has led the very positive developments on the updating of the NJC Job Evaluation Scheme, production of role profile for social workers, school staff and public health workers and the LGPS. We want that to continue through the NJC
  • We will be issuing new bargaining advice shortly to branches and Regions on sick pay and car allowances as it seems clear that the employers will urge councils to cut them further at local level

What Happens Now With The Pay Offer?

Unison’s NJC Committee will be meeting on the 7 May in the morning to discuss the LGE’s final offer and agree its recommendation for the branch consultation which will start as soon as possible after 7 May. The Joint Trade Union Side will meet in the afternoon and will hopefully agree a joint way forward.

Branches and Regions will be asked to prepare to carry out branch ballots of all members covered by NJC pay and conditions to seek their views on the final offer.

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NEC Elections: Use Your Vote

The National Executive Council (NEC) is the body that runs UNISON and takes key decisions that affect you as a UNISON member.

Elections are now taking place to the NEC, and the people elected will be responsible for the way UNISON is run for the next two years.

UNISON members will be receiving a ballot pack at your home address, along with information about the candidates, and I urge you to use your vote to ensure that we get a good turnout, as democracy is very important to this union.

You must vote by the closing date of 24 May.

If you have not received your ballot pack by 29 April please call 0845 355 0845. Lines are open from 6am to midnight, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday.

 Don’t forget to use your vote!

 Kensington & Chelsea Branch nominated candidate are:

 Sonya Howard Local Government women seat

 Phoebe Watkins Local Government women seat

 Glenn Kelly Local Government male seat

 Paul Homes Local Government seat (general)

 Helen Davies Greater London seat

 Jon Rogers Greater London seat

 Marsha Jane Thompson Greater London seat

 Gretta Holmes (Young members’ National seat)

 Hugo Pierre   Black Members national seat.

 April Ashley Black members’ seat

 Monique Hirst  Black members’ seat.

 Use Your Vote

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380,000 Council Jobs Cut So Far

Since the onset of the government’s austerity measures which have squeezed the grant to local councils annually over 380,000 jobs have been shed nationally.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) based on an analysis of 397 local authorities, the number of employees has dropped from 2.5 million in 2010 to 2.2 million in 2012.

Most of the job losses have been caused through recruitment freezes, redundancies and natural wastage resulting from the budget cuts. The figures have also included the movement of public sector jobs to private sector contractors of service delivery organisations (such as outsourcing – or when a school is reclassified as an academy).

London

The capital has one of the lowest proportion of workers employed in the public sector but has been hit hard taking huge losses in staff being cuts. While a relatively modest 16.9% of people in employment in London worked in the public sector in September 2012, they account for 13% of all public sector workers across the UK.

Overall public sector workers fell from around 800,000 in December 2009 to 740,000 by September 2012 – resulting in 60,000 jobs being lost.

Local government employment in London fell between 2008 and 2012 and was nearly 9% lower in September 2012 than in March 2008.

Ealier last year TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber warned: ‘Apart from the huge effect that the job cuts will have upon the provision of public services across the UK, mass redundancies across the public sector are bad news for our struggling economy, and will have a devastating impact upon local high streets, as newly-unemployed public sector workers simply stop spending’.

Public Sector Jobs Stats

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NJC Pay Negotiations Update

Further pay talks between the local government unions and the employers too place on Thursday 28 March. The Trade Union Side made it clear that it would like to reach early agreement this year in the light of the three-year pay freeze, but that the two options in the initial offer were completely unacceptable.  They pointed out that members’ basic earnings have dropped by 16% since 2009.

Also cited was the fact that a number of councils are discussing picking up thePay Matters Oxford City agreement[1], that the Core Cities Group[2] are planning to leave the LGA[3] and are considering making their own improved pay offer and that a growing number of councils can afford to pay the Living Wage. In this context, we stated that it was hard to believe that a better offer could not be made and that it is clear the Employers are in danger of driving the break-up of sector-wide bargaining as a consequence of under-cutting what a large number of councils are prepared to pay.  Members are doing much more for much less and we cannot tolerate further erosion of pay and conditions. In that context, the Employers need to lead the sector, not trail behind it. It is hard to believe that councils could fall behind the National Minimum Wage on the bottom scale point this year unless action is taken through a decent offer.

The Employers responded by stating their disappointment that the unions were not willing to engage in ‘reform’ of the Green Book but also that they understood UNISON’s view of proposed cuts to car allowances. Local government is being squeezed hard, so comparisons with other public sector groups are not necessarily helpful and the public sector pay limit is 1%.

The Employers’ side have agreed to give further consideration to our representations and respond to us with a formal offer by the end of April.

 


 

[1] Oxford City will pay 1.5% for the next five years, ‘defrost’ increments and pay a Living Wage underpin in order to have that certainty

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