Friday, August 24, 2007

Employers offers slightly smaller pay cut in real terms - rejoice?

We now have details of a pay offer in local government which is based upon a “pay envelope” of 2.5% (which most Councils budgeted for in the first place and which we totally rejected at UNISON Local Government Conference.)

Clearly UNISON officials knew that this was on the cards and I suppose this explains the lengthy timetable leading up to strike action, about which I expressed some concerns (rather later than other wiser comrades).

If the Retail Price Index was at 4.8% in April then a 2% pay rise was a 2.8% pay cut in real terms, so the pay offer to local government workers is really a 1.4% real pay cut for the lowest paid members on spine point 4 and a 2.225% real terms pay cut for everyone else.

I don’t think that this is acceptable.

Whilst I write this I have to express my disappointment – but not surprise – at the priority given to public sector pay in the report of the TUC General Council to this year’s Congress. (When it gets online it will be here.)

The public sector pay freeze merits one small paragraph deep in the middle of the report. Considerably less space than is given over to the 2012 Olympics!

Our members join unions for many reasons but one of the important ones is to get better pay. Since the public sector is the area of highest union density it is vital to the whole movement that we show that we can deliver decent pay rises for our members.

The TUC General Council know that they will pay lip service to support for the valiant struggle of our brothers and sisters in PCS but that the big unions want to sell below inflation pay increases to our members elsewhere in public services, so they will keep the whole question of public sector pay low key.

But if pay in the most unionised areas of the economy is going to rise more slowly than the less unionised areas then what are we for?

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