Monday, December 03, 2007

Regional Local Government Executive Report

Today’s meeting of the UNISON Greater London Regional Local Government Executive witnessed a particularly lengthy debate around the Secretary’s report on industrial action in London local government.

Two visitors from the Barnet branch kicked off a positive discussion about support for the long running Fremantle dispute. The Committee agreed to congratulate the branch and the strikers on sustaining their dispute and to call for support for the rally at the House of Commons on 11 December and for Early Day Motion 276.

The Committee also discussed the disgraceful victimisation of Michael Gavan, Chair of Newham UNISON local government branch. It was reported that Michael’s claim for interim relief at the employment tribunal will be heard on Friday 14 November and that the Newham Branch Committee will this evening be considering whether to call for further strike action in advance of that hearing. The Committee gave its full support to UNISON’s campaign for Michael’s reinstatement and gave in principle support to any further requests for strike action which the branch may make.

The Committee also agreed to encourage a positive approach to identifying ways in which financial support can be given to victimised activists.

The Committee went on to debate the process whereby requests from branches for industrial action ballots are considered. This is clearly unsatisfactory and gives rise to avoidable delays and the Executive agreed to refer the question to the UNISON Greater London Regional Committee. Time will tell whether this will lead to any positive progress. Branches may need to consider how to put motions to National Delegate Conference to expedite industrial action requests.

The other main item of business which I should report in the time available concerns our pay claim for 2008. Branches should shortly receive a draft claim agreed by the UNISON National Joint Council (NJC) Committee on 28 November, this is for 6% and substantial progress to achieve UNISON’s (national) objective of a minimum hourly rate of £6.75 (obviously this would be higher in London). A separate claim for improvements in various service conditions would be submitted as part of the review of the Green Book which has been jointly agreed.

Branches will have a short period to consult upon the offer and may wish to consider whether a flat rate claim would not be better than a percentage. A flat rate increase of £1,400 would pretty much achieve the uprating of the minimum hourly rate whilst distributing the benefits to all lower paid workers not just the lowest paid.

Whatever claim we settle upon the good news is that the intention is to lodge the claim in January with a view to taking a decision on the employers’ offer after 31 March. So we need to be preparing for strike action now.

Finally, congratulations to Croydon UNISON and their Branch Secretary Malcolm Cambell for securing an agreement on the pay and grading review (and to David Eggmore, Chair of the Executive for getting us through most of our Agenda this morning!)

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