Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Local Government Pay - how shall we build the campaign?

UNISON's decision to ballot our local government members (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) for strike action over pay is the most important moment in building trade union opposition to the austerity policies of the Coalition Government since the unions began to move to a (premature) settlement of the pensions dispute in mid-December 2011.

Whilst cynics might see this as little more than a recruitment drive, activists (who must temper our cynicism with commitment) will see an opportunity to halt and reverse the declining living standards not just of the largest bargaining unit in the economy, but of workers generally.

Lambeth Branch Officers have begun to circulate the following two motions (which could be considered by quorate meetings of local government UNISON branches or their Branch Committees) in order to stimulate further debate and discussion. Comments are welcome (and hostile anonymous comments will always be published if they are both literate and witty...)

MOTION ONE - EMERGENCY MOTION FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE – LOCAL GOVERNMENT NJC PAY DISPUTE 2014

This Branch welcomes the decision of the National Joint Council (NJC) Committee on 24 April to request approval for a strike ballot in support of the NJC pay claim.

This Branch calls upon all members to vote “YES” for action, and urges all branches to take all practicable steps to maximise turnout before the close of the ballot.

This Branch recognises that the bold decision of the NJC Committee to ballot our members was necessary in view of the rejection by our members of the derisory offer made by the employers. We further recognise that we face a significant task in mobilising our members to take the sustained strike action which will be necessary to secure a worthwhile improvement in that offer.

This Branch believes that it is vital that we engage to the maximum extent with all our members in this pay campaign, and that we demonstrate to our members and potential members, as well as to the employers, that we are serious about securing a decent pay increase for local government workers.

This Branch therefore resolves to submit this motion to our Regional Local Government Committee/Executive (replacing “Branch” with “Regional Local Government Committee” throughout and deleting this sentence.) This Branch further resolves to submit this motion as an Emergency Motion to Local Government Conference, replacing “Branch” with “Conference” throughout, with the following action points (and deleting this paragraph).

Conference therefore resolves, in the event that members vote for industrial action in the current ballot;
1.    To call upon the Service Group Executive (SGE) to work with the National Executive Council (NEC) to ensure that this pay dispute has the highest priority for UNISON, and that the Union’s resources are focused on securing a substantially increased pay offer;
2.    To call upon the SGE to work with other Service Groups and/or sectors in UNISON to coordinate our activities so far as possible and within UNISON Rules;
3.    To urge all other unions in dispute with their employers to seek, as far as possible, to coordinate any planned industrial action with our action in order to maximise its impact;
4.    To call upon all branches and Regions with members involved in this dispute to coordinate with GMB, UNITE and any other unions taking industrial action and to organise joint picket lines, rallies and other lawful activities as appropriate within UNISON Rules;
5.    To call upon the SGE and NJC Committee as appropriate to seek approval from the NEC for further strike all-out national strike action in September, of at least two days’ duration, with a view to announcing the dates of such action before any strike action in July, seeking the support of other unions but acting alone if necessary;
6.    To call upon branches and Regions to organise campaign events and members’ meetings over the summer period in order to maintain the momentum of the dispute;
7.    To request that the NEC authorise the convening of a Special Service Group Conference to consider and make a recommendation on any improved offer from the employers before this is put to members;
8.    To instruct the SGE that, if any improved offer is put to members, it must make a positive recommendation either to accept or to reject the offer;
9.    To further instruct the SGE that it must not recommend the acceptance of any improved offer short of the original trade union side claim without the approval of Service Group Conference.

MOTION TWO - REQUISITION OF SPECIAL SERVICE GROUP CONFERENCE TO CONSIDER ANY REVISED OR IMPROVED PAY OFFER FROM THE NJC EMPLOYERS’ SIDE

This Branch believes that our Local Government Service Group Conference should make a recommendation to members on any revised or improved offer made by the employers’ side of the National Joint Council (NJC). We therefore resolve to submit the following requisition to the National Head of Local Government, no earlier than 17 June 2014, in accordance with Rule D.3.4.11;


“This branch requisitions a Special Local Government Service Group Conference to consider, and make a recommendation upon, any further offer from the employers’ side of the National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Government Services in respect of Pay 2014, where the UNISON NJC Committee considers the offer worthy of consideration.”

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