Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Debate on pay at the UNISON NEC

Appropriately enough the issue of pay was high up the agenda for today’s UNISON NEC meeting, although much of the progress that could be reported related to what is on the website.

It was reported that the NHS employers have yet to make an offer (in the context of discussions about the possibility of a multi-year pay deal which would encompass matters beyond the remit of the Pay Review Body) and that local government employers won’t make an offer until 19 March. Opinion is divided as to whether they will make a single year offer and if so at what level they will pitch it. The Scottish local government employers have just made a very low three year offer.

UNISON’s Service Group Liaison Committee will meet in March to consider the position and we were advised that this is the first time in history that UNISON’s Service Groups have agreed to talk to each other before accepting pay offers. Truly today the UNISON NEC was walking with destiny…

We shall just have to be patient, as I was advised that “anyone with half an ounce of sense” would know that we can’t start talking about strike action when we don’t even have a trade dispute yet. We were also told to concentrate on unity with unions in our own sectors (although bizarrely this doesn’t seem to include likely strike action by a key local government union in April…)

Local Government NEC member Paul Holmes expressed the view that national strike action will be unavoidable and will be supported by members, since the employers won’t make an acceptable offer and our members can’t afford more years of declining living standards. I tend to agree and certainly think it’s prudent to be preparing now for the eventuality of national strike action.

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