Friday, October 12, 2007

Local disputes show the need for national action

Bad news in Birmingham where the local authority – England’s largest – is seeking to impose a pay and grading deal which could see pay cuts of up to £10,000 a year for 12% of the workforce. The challenge of introducing equal pay in local government without the funding required to do so in a fair and reasonable way is only going to provoke more disputes.

Ironically this happens a year to the day since the Local Government Employers called upon their members to reach agreements on equal pay with the unions. And of course, it is ten years since we agreed the Single Status deal…

This approach of imposition heralds the future of employee relations in local government if the employers get their way and reduce national bargaining to a completely hollow shell. We are at our strongest when we can use the unity that comes from being part of a national union – that’s why the most important task for UNISON activists in local government is to mobilise for a yes vote in the national strike ballot.

If we can strengthen our national organisation we can get better settlements of our local disputes.


Jim Ennis said...

I agree Jon that we need national action but we also need national leadership on this issue. So far there has been no condemnation of these life altering and stress inducing pay cuts from Heather Wakefield, Peter Allenson and Brian Sutton etc. Prentis seems more concerned with meaningless tick box accreditation exercises like IIP(Unison Maid). In fact it seems to be a case of equal pay at any costs regardless of the collateral damage. All this despite the Single Status deal being sold to the membership on the basis that "many shall gain and nobody should lose".

Anonymous said...


I agree with Jim. Single Status is a national issue. I believe that the UNISON leadership have abdicated their responsibilities in not making a principled stand on the funding issue, and I am dismayed that on pay protection they have decided to go with one QC's narrow interpretation of the law. In fact the lawyers seem to be ruling our entire strategy to the detriment of members' interests.

This has left many local branches facing pressure to agree to deals which result in pay cuts for many people - without making the national leadership appear in any way responsible.

Certainly concerted action on the pay offer will build confidence but I'd want to see more of a lead at national level on the single status issue.

UNISON member