Monthly Archives: October 2013

The 2014/15 Pay Claim

UNISON CALLS FOR £1 AN HOUR PAY RISE FOR ALL – AND THE LIVING WAGE FOR THE LOWEST PAID

UNISON, GMB and Unite are calling for a pay rise of £1 an hour for all local government workers on NJC pay in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 1 April 2014.

A pay rise of £1 an hour would mean that the lowest scale point 5 would risePay Matters from £6.45 pence an hour to the Living Wage, which is £7.45 pence . Everyone above the lowest scale point would also receive a flat rate increase of £1 an hour. It would also apply to everyone in London, where the Living Wage and pay rates are higher .

Why?

• Local government pay is the lowest in the public sector – from the bottom to the top of the NJC pay scales

• YOUR pay has fallen by 16% after inflation since 2010

• Only a handful of other public sector workers earn less than the Living Wage – in local government it’s nearly half a million

• This is because of the Coalition’s cuts, the pay freeze in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and the below-inflation 1% pay award this year

• If earnings had risen with inflation, the bottom rate would now be £7.53 pence an hour – above the Living Wage

• And many of you have lost more through local attacks on unsocial hours payments, overtime and car allowances or transfer to term time or zero hours contracts

• Local government workers earning less than £21,000 were not paid the £250 promised by the Coalition Chancellor, George Osborne, in 2011 and 2012. That’s a shameful 1 million employees who lost out!

• Councils have lost over 450,000 jobs since 2010 – with more to go. YOU keep doing more for less to keep councils services going. YOU deserve a pay rise which starts to make up for lost earnings

• Many of you have told us that YOU can’t manage on your pay. More and more council workers depend on loans, hand-outs and food banks to survive

• That’s just not good enough. YOU are worth just as much as other public sector workers doing similar jobs

But won’t a pay rise mean more lost jobs and services?

• £1 an hour is not a fortune. Overall it’s an 8% increase. That’s much less than the 16% you’ve all lost since 2010

• Councils have saved almost a quarter from their pay bills in the last three years – much more than the £1 an hour we want this year

• The Living Wage of £7.45 is still 2p an hour below the official poverty line of £7.47. UNISON says that nobody should earn less than the Living Wage

• 80 councils have now paid the Living Wage and more are considering it. That’s great, but we want the Living Wage as the bottom rate for all through negotiation this year – not a free- for- all at local level

• Councils still have money to put into reserves – now £19 billion! The extra £2.3 billion they put in the bank in the last two years could fund our £1 an hour claim, with some to spare!

• A £1 an hour pay rise would put money back into your local economy and help get the whole economy going again

• The government would receive large amounts in extra taxes and national insurance – enough to meet a large part of our claim

• Introducing the Living Wage in the public sector would save the government £2.2.billion through paying out less on tax credits and means tested benefits. There would also be increased income to the Treasury from tax and national insurance. The government can’t afford NOT to deal with low pay in local government!

• The Coalition’s ‘austerity’ measures aren’t working anyway. Cutting your pay has just taken money out of the economy and the government is having to borrow to pay for benefits

• The UK is the world’s 7th richest economy. We can afford the Living Wage for the lowest paid and £1 an hour for all providing vital local public services

• The government should collect the £120 billion owed in taxes by tax avoiders and evaders and by off-shore companies – not punish low paid local government workers

What can YOU do to help win UNISON’s £1 an hour claim?

• Tell all your work mates about it

• Send them a link to this article

• Talk to non-members and tell them to get on board with UNISON – only a strong union can get them the pay they deserve

• Write to us at the Local Government Section, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY and tell us what low pay and cuts to conditions mean for you

• Keep up to date by logging on to our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/UnisonInLocalGovernment

• This will be a tough campaign to win. Get ready to join in campaign activities. E-mail with ideas for our campaign at njcpay2014@unison.co.uk

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Capita Petition to Keep Jobs in Barnet

 In August 2013 Barnet Council signed a 10-year, £320million contract with Capita plc to take over running the following services: customer services, human resources, finance, payroll, revenues and benefits, estates, corporate procurement and commercial services

Capita plc proposed solution is to provide these services in Capita CallBarnet Pic centres elsewhere in the UK which will ultimately lead to approximately 350 jobs losses to the local community and upwards of 150 redundancies in Barnet Council itself.

UNISON are passionate about local public services and believe people providing them have local knowledge and are accountable to the residents of Barnet. Not only that but local job losses will have a negative impact on the local economy as working people become jobless with a reduced income to spend in the local economy.

Barnet UNISON branch is determined to try to convince Capita that there is another way to deliver services to the borough’s residents.

On behalf of all of all their members now facing redundancy they are asking for an act of solidarity and support. 

Please sign the petition on line 

This petition is also now on Twitter & Facebook, so please do what you can to promote it.

There are a lot of staff and their families hoping for your support.

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Practice What You Preach Says Bishop

Bishop Williams Signs up with Hasina Begom

Bishop Williams Signs up with Hasina Begom

The Bishop of Kensington has signed up to join a local credit union to support the Church’s bid to tackle payday lenders.

The Rt Rev’d Paul Williams enrolled at YourCU (Your Credit Union), the first of its kind in Kensington & Chelsea, as part of a church-wide celebration to mark International Credit Union Day.

His visit to YourCU’s pop-up branch at Dalgarno Community Centre in North Kensington follows a call to action from the Archbishop of Canterbury for churches to work with credit unions to increase access to local, ethical and affordable financial services.

There are more than an estimated 24,500 ‘financially excluded’ households in the Royal Borough each paying a ‘poverty premium’ of up to £1,000 each year through higher cost of borrowing, higher bills, additional charges and lack of access to cheaper deals.

“I am very pleased to be joining YourCU as it establishes a real lending alternative that is local, and relational in communities like Dalgarno,” said Bishop John, who joins more than 200 YourCU members.

“Faith in Christ compels us to care for those in need not just with our words but also practical action. I would encourage people across the Borough to support this excellent initiative.’’

Jonathon Read, YourCU chairman and Earl’s Court councillor, said he was delighted Bishop Paul had signed on the dotted line.

“It might surprise people to know that the borough is not uniformly affluent there are significant pockets of deprivation where people are on restricted incomes,” said Mr Read.

“These residents will now have access to affordable finance, a bank account, and advice on how to manage their finances.

“It will also provide our better-off residents with the opportunity to invest their money in a venture that will benefit their local community as well as giving them a financial return.

“Come talk to with us about becoming a member, regular saving and great value loans.”

Your CU aims to improve the financial services available to people who live and work in the area, particularly those marginalised from affordable banking services and struggling with their household finances.

Bishop Paul’s visit follows a call by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, to use the Church to build up Britain’s network of credit unions and to ‘compete’ payday lenders ‘out of existence’.

Local priest Rev’d Azariah France-Williams, from St Francis Church, Dalgano, said as a church leader he was pleased to endorse his local credit union.

“We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and affordable loans are a way to ensure a vital community where people’s well-being is valued and their ambitions are supported,” he said.

The Church of England is marking International Credit Union Day across 30 Dioceses, with over 40 Bishops involved in celebrating the work of more than 50 credit unions serving communities across the country.

A feasibility study by the Octavia Foundation in 2009 identified over 24,500 financially excluded households in the borough, each paying a ‘poverty premium’ of up to £1,000 each year through higher cost of borrowing, higher bills, additional charges and lack of access to cheaper deals.

By providing affordable options for people to responsibly borrow small levels of credit the report estimates YourCU would see around two thirds of all loans, or approximately £3.5 million, expected to be loaned to financially excluded individuals over the first five years, keeping an estimated £1.8 million within the community.

YourCu covers Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, Queens Park and Kensal Green and St Mary’s Park and Queenstown in Wandsworth.

The credit union operates pop up sessions in the Dalgarno Community Centre, Dalgarno Way, every Thursday between noon and 3pm, and at Earls Court Health and Wellbeing Centre, 2b Hogarth Road, every Friday, also between noon and 3pm.

For further information on Your CU visit: http://www.yourcu.co.uk

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Zero-Hour Contracts

The Labour Party is committed to getting rid of zero-hour contracts if they win the next general election.[1]

The number of workers on zero-hour contracts in Britain may how have exceeded the 1,000,000 mark. Even if these individuals receive no work from their employers, there is no impact on the unemployment figures. Employers claim that workers like the so-called ‘flexibility ‘ of theseContact contracts – but with no holiday pay, no sick pay and no pension it is arguable that the employer gains most for the arrangement.

Under existing legislation it is illegal to have workers on standby, on-call or downtime while on work premises. If they are on standby on work premises then they must be paid – it is illegal to “clock-off” workers in quieter periods.

The reality is that under zero-hour contracts the workers are owned by the employer when they are at work and when they are at home.

Many workers wait by the telephone each day to be summoned at a moment’s notice. Putting workers on a zero-hour contact waiting by the phone means they:

  • cannot sign-on for benefits
  • cannot work for another employer without permission

In addition many workers who refuse to accept zero-hour contracts have lost their right to benefits.

Employers who use these types of contacts like them because they can avoid many of the obligations imposed by employment law. Many have business models which appear to be based on having their workforce on zero-hours:

  • Wetherspoons – 80% of its 24,000 workers are on zero-hour contracts
  • McDonalds – 90% of its 83,000 employees are on zero—hours contracts
  • Sports Direct – 20,000 of its 24,000 staff are on zero-hour contracts.

Other employers abusing zero-hour contracts are Buckingham Palace, Cineworld, the Tate Gallery, Boots and Lancashire County  Cricket Club.

Zero-hour contracts are taking advantage of unemployment levels, particularly youth employment (the majority of zero-hour contract workers are 18-24 years old).

Zero-hour contracts massage the employment figures. Under-employment now affects 30% of all 18-24 year olds. In addition how can someone monitor a budget, pay rent, energy and food bills and organise childcare/holidays/ leisure time when they are on such a contract.


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Disclosure and Barring

The coalition government reorganised the vetting, barring and criminal records scheme to reduce their scale to “common sense levels”. The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) have merged into the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). CRB checks are now called DBS checks.

The new disclosure and barring regime came into law in May 2013 and employers can now call on three types/levels of checks for employees who fall under this legislation:

Grid

All individuals involved in regulated activity must have an enhanced CRB check which includes information on whether the individual is on a barred list. Since September the definition of regulated activity has changed to reduce the number of people covered, but there are still some 5 million people who are under this legislation.

Regulated activity covers all people who work on a regular basis in schools and nurseries, social workers, children’s centre workers as well as librarian and museum staff who deliver/lead school visits. It also includes anyone providing personal care to an adult.

Despite the government’s intention to simplify the number of number of regulatory regimes it still remains a complex area. UNISON have produced a detailed factsheet on the new disclosure and barring regime as well as advice on issues which may arise here.

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National Minimum Wage Increased by 12p

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) has been increased by12p with effect from today, Tuesday 01 October 2013, for virtually all workers aged 21 and older[i] (by 5p to £5.03 for 18-to-20-year-olds).Hand with money

The increase of just under 2% brings the figure to £6.31 an hour, which means that the real value of the NMW has fallen yet again, given that even by the government’s preferred yardstick, the Consumer Price Index, the rate of inflation stood at 2.8%.  Compared to 2008, the annualised worth of this bare minimum has plunged by nearly £1,000.

Meanwhile, the gap between NMW and the unofficial London Living Wage (LLW) is now a massive £2.24 an hour or some 36%. Scores of London workers in the private sector contracted into the public sector are paid the NMW and not the LLW.

Vince Cable the business secretary, recently told the Guardian, “We cannot go on for ever in a low pay and low productivity world in which all we can say to workers is ‘you have got to take a wage cut to keep your job’.”[ii]


 

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