Sunday, March 03, 2013

Local Government Pay - it's a citizenship issue too

I have copied the post below from the Facebook page “Local Government Workers Deserve a Decent Pay Rise” (!/pages/Local-Government-workers-deserve-a-decent-pay-rise/590019704361076). It makes the point that (in UNISON Conference speak) local government pay is a citizenship issue as well as a Service Group issue - and that we can therefore act as citizens as well as workers;

"Following the positive and encouraging decision of UNISON’s National Joint Council (NJC) Committee to recommend rejection of each of the unacceptable offers put to the local government trade unions by the Council employers, we can now expect a vigorous campaign led from the top of UNISON, and – we can all hope – the other trade unions too.

However, there is no reason why we should wait for a lead before taking our own action, as citizens, to support the position of the national trade union negotiators. Every local government worker is also a voter in local elections, whether for their own authority or elsewhere – and so are our families and friends.

The national employers side negotiators represent all the local Councils which are in the NJC – and each of those Councils is made up of individual elected Councillors. Unless you live in one of the minority of local authorities (mostly in the South East) who have opted out of the NJC, you can write – as a citizen – to your local Councillors in order to lobby them.

All you have to do to contact your Councillors is go to enter your postcode. This then takes you to a page which gives you the option to write to each or all of your Councillors. Before you visit the site, compose a brief statement which you can cut and paste on to the Writetothem website and they’ll pass your message on.

      It’s best to keep it brief and to use your own words – but here are some points you could make (pick just one or two points that mean most to you, that you understand and can relate to). If you can also add a point or two about what the pay freeze and the decline in your living standard has meant to you over recent years that would be even better;
  1. The last national pay rise for local government workers was implemented in 2009. High inflation, coupled with a three-year pay freeze, means that since 2009, pay for the Council workforce has fallen by 13% in real terms - it is now more than 10% below where it was in 1996 and will have fallen by 15% by April 1st (the pay settlement date).
  2. The employers’ offer is below the current rate of inflation and therefore represents a further pay detriment in real terms and a further erosion of living standards for local government workers. On a journey to restore pay values and living standards the offer represents setting off in reverse gear.
  3. Nationally, 69% of UNISON members working in local government have had to cut back spending on food in the last twelve months according to a recent survey.
  4. A pay settlement which more closely reflected the national trade union side claim, for a flat rate increase which benefits the lowest paid proportionately more and reduces pay inequality in the workforce, would put money into the hands of workers whose spending would have positive implications for the economy nationally and locally.
  5. The lowest pay rate in local government has been stuck at £6.30 an hour for nearly four years – that’s only 11 pence above the National Minimum Wage.
  6. 76% of the local government workforce are women, six out of ten working part-time. With the changes to working tax credits the pay freeze is hitting women hardest.
  7. If there isn’t an improved offer to the local government workforce from the employers there is every prospect of an industrial dispute.
    Remember to finish by asking them to ask the Council Leader and Chief Executive to lobby the national employers to make an improved pay offer.
    Once you have written to your local Councillors why not encourage your partner, parents, friends or children to do the same? After all, they all want you to have a decent pay rise too!
    And, of course, those of us who are activists in trade union branches can also encourage all our members to take this action as citizens. No other group of workers has employers who are locally elected politicians who can so easily be lobbied. If we are serious about trying to win an argument with our members for strike action (and we have to be) let’s start by trying to persuade as many of them as possible to get lobbying."
    If you're on Facebook and haven't already "liked" that page, I commend it to you.


Anonymous said...

Except of course, local government workers under the age of 18 are not voters. Might want to amend accordingly to avoid accusations of being ignorant about ageism as it affects the youth.

Anonymous said...

ANY percentage based pay rise renders the low paid worse off every time. Unison, in continuing to consider such offers is guilty of promoting inequality.