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Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Local Government Pay Update - Pants On Fire!

As flagged up here earlier, a circular (NJC Bulletin Issue No. 52) has come out to UNISON branches. Unfortunately it has caused some combustion in the britches.

The circular says;
“Very tough discussions took place during September. These resulted in the LGA coming forward with the initial proposals which were circulated to branches in NJC Pay Bulletin 48. UNISON made it clear that these were not acceptable at a meeting with the employers on 2 October and the LGA then came back with the revised proposals which were circulated to you on 10 October. These include an additional lump sum for those on scale point 26 and above to be paid on 1 April 2015. This is to ensure that no-one would receive less than the equivalent of 1% in cash value in 2014 - when the 2.2% increase in January 2015 and the non-consolidated lump sum are combined.”

The truth is;
Members on the national pay spine at SCP26 and above will be worse off as at 31 March, as the additional lump sum won’t be paid until April 2015 (and of course it is worse to receive money later rather than sooner).

The circular says;
“The Committee [NJC Committee on 25 September] also asked the negotiators to return to the LGA and say that the proposals were not acceptable and seek further negotiations. There was also concern that the proposals didn’t amount to a final offer and could not be guaranteed until the LGA had consulted councils. This is because the LGA has its own consultation procedures and had only consulted councils on the initial March offer. A further date for an NJC Committee meeting was set for 9 October to consider any developments. The negotiators did as requested by the NJC Committee and revised proposals were secured.”

The truth is;
The NJC Committee on 25 September agreed to reject the pay proposals for three reasons;
·         That the lump sum amounted to less than the back pay on 1% (it still does in 2014/15);
·         That the overall impact of the 2.2% on basic pay does not begin to compensate our members for the loss of earnings and the hardship they face (it still doesn’t), and;
·         The proposals are not a formal offer which can be consulted on under UNISON’s pay consultation procedures (they still aren’t).

The circular says;
“Meanwhile GMB and Unite both took decisions to suspend the strike action on 14 October and consult members over the initial proposals, which they circulated to their members. Although we had not suspended the strike action UNISON was then placed in a position where we had to circulate the proposals too, as we did not want members to find out about them from other unions.”

The truth is;
This blog is clearly not here to make excuses for the officials of other trade unions. However, until UNISON had called off the strike action on 14 October, the minority unions (GMB and UNITE) were clearly still telling their members that strike action would go ahead – after the proposals had been circulated. 

The circular says;
“Finally, the Committee [NJC Committee on 9 October] considered what its recommendation to members should be in the consultation. There was a unanimous view that the proposals could not be recommended and that we should consult our members on the following basis:
‘The UNISON NJC Committee’s view is that the employers’ pay proposals for 2014/16 fall far below the aspirations in our 2014/15 pay claim and what members deserve.  However, the Committee believes it is the best achievable by negotiation and that only sustained all out strike action could achieve an improved pay offer.’” 

The truth is;
The General Secretary advised the Committee of correspondence received from the employers which is in the public domain (courtesy of our Manchester branch) and this was influential in their decision.

Incidentally, we already knew that sustained all out strike action was necessary to secure a decent pay rise and had voted for, and taken, national industrial action on that basis.

I shall enquire as to when the next meeting of the National Health and Safety Committee is so that we can consider how to deal with trouser-related conflagration at the UNISON Centre.

The best way to extinguish this fire will doubtless be to reject the rubbish pay proposals.

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