Thursday, April 14, 2016

Local Government Pay - the story continues

Following a full and frank exchange of views between members of the Industrial Action Committee (IAC) of UNISON's National Executive Council (NEC) yesterday afternoon, the Committee was then pleased to agree unanimously a proposal from the Chair.

The debate had been, at times, heated as members of the Committee grappled with the complex position in which we find ourselves in relation to local government pay. Whilst our members had rejected the employers' offer decisively, the GMB had voted to accept. Whilst some of our branches and Regions (notably in the North West) had won their members to support action, others felt that their members would not join them.

The Chair's proposal was to refer the matter back to the National Joint Council (NJC) sector Committee to consult members on a clear (if not stark) choice. Either we must be sure we can take solid and sustained all-out strike action or we must accept the employers' offer to continue to impose real terms pay cuts on the majority of our members.

It is a stark choice, but an honest one - and it poses a particular challenge those of us who believe that the future of national pay bargaining in local government depends upon our waging a serious fight to defend living standards in (what is almost certainly) the last pay round before the new ballot restrictions proposed in the Trade Union Bill come into force.

We have an opportunity to try to persuade enough members to express support for action - so that the NJC Committee can go back to the IAC with a compelling case for a strike ballot (following which we can win both the ballot and the dispute).

This opportunity will be very challenging - and there are those who consider that, since it will be impossible to win our members to support for the action required to win the dispute, they will not try.

It is up to us to mount a persuasive case for the plan of action already agreed by the NJC Committee - and activists in branches (whilst waiting for guidance on how precisely to consult members) need not wait to make the general case in the workplace and raise the profile of the pay dispute among the membership.

The future of national pay bargaining in local government may hang by a thread - but that thread has not been cut.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

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