As you know, the three unions – UNISON, GMB and Unite – submitted an initial claim for 2014-2015 for a minimum increase of £1 an hour on all scale points to achieve the Living Wage for the lowest paid and to begin to restore the 18% lost earnings for members above the bottom pay point. At the moment, 450,000 NJC workers earn £6.45 pence an hour – £1.20 an hour less than the Living Wage.
The LGA’s initial offer
On 20 March the LGA made an offer – without entering into negotiations with the unions – of 1% on scale points 11 and above and lump sum payments between £580 and £175 for those on scale points 5 – 10. All three unions rejected the offer and took industrial action on 10 July. Further action is planned for 14 October.
The LGA steadfastly refused to negotiate with us over an improved offer or enter into arbitration talks via ACAS – despite a clause in the Green Book which enables either side of the NJC to seek arbitration. However, in the last four weeks there have been Joint Secretarial discussions seeking to achieve a further acceptable offer.
New proposals – not a formal offer
These discussions produced a set of proposals from the LGA which were put to UNISON’s NJC Committee yesterday. The LGA had asked the unions to suspend the 14 October industrial action and consult members over the proposals while they also consulted councils. The employers did not feel able to make the proposals as a formal pay offer, although they did have the agreement of the four political group leaders on the LGA and the councillors on the Employers Side of the NJC. They had asked the unions to consult members over the proposals while they got the approval of councils for them to become a formal offer.
What’s in the proposals?
As you will see, the proposals – outlined below – are complicated!
- They cover a two-year period from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2016
- They are made up of a lump sum to cover the period from 1 April 2014 to 31 December 2014. This will not be consolidated into basic pay rate
- The lump sum is £325 for those on scale points 5, 6 and 7, £150 for those on scale points 8,9 and 10 and £100 for those on scale points 11 and above
- 2.2% increase for those on scale points 11 – 49 from 1 January 2015
- 8.56% increase (£1065.00) on scp 5 from 1 January 2015
- 7.93% increase (£1,000) on scp 6 from 1 January 2015
- 6.19% increase (£800) on scp 7 from 1 January 2015
- 4.13% increase (£550) on scp 8 from 1 January 2015
- 2.55% increase (£350) on scp 9 from 1 January 2015
- 2.32% increase (£325) on scp 10 from 1 January 2015
In addition, scale point 5 would be removed from 1 October 2015, to make the bottom rate £7.06 pence an hour.
UNISON’s NJC Committee decision
UNISON’s NJC Committee met on 25 September and considered the LGA proposals. After a very lengthy discussion, the NJC Committee decided to:
Reject the proposals on the grounds that the lump sum payment for the first nine months of the 2014-2015 pay year from 1 April 2014 amounts to less than one year’s back pay on the original 1% offer and …..
- The overall impact of the offer of 2.2% on basic pay for those on scale points 11-49 from 1 January 2015 is too low and does not begin to compensate our members for the loss of earnings and hardship they face
- Reject the proposals on the grounds that have not yet been agreed by councils and so do not constitute a formal offer which can be consulted on under UNISON’s pay consultation procedures
- Continue with the industrial action planned for 14 October
- Seek further talks with the LGA to discuss an improved offer
After the discussion, the NJC Committee agreed a statement as follows:
“In light of the absence of a formal offer being made by the employers, who have instead chosen to share a set of pay proposals that procedurally under Conference policy we cannot consult on and which appear extremely limited in terms of benefits to our members, the UNISON NJC Committee rejects these proposals and declines the employers’ request to suspend industrial action at this time. The NJC Committee has agreed to share these proposals so that members could also be properly informed. The NJC Committee agreed to continue to explore alternative proposals, the details of which are attached for information”.
The value of the lump sum payment is less than 1% of current basic pay for all those on scp 10 and above. This is also true of the combined effect of the lump sum payment and the 3 months pay increase for all those on scale points 26 and above.
What happens next?
We have informed the LGA of UNISON’s decision and have requested an urgent meeting with the three unions to discuss a further improved offer. We will keep you informed of developments.
UNISON has already expressed our concern that no “window of opportunity” to volunteer for redundancy should open prior to the end of consultation (22nd September 2014). We have a number of concerns regarding the proposal. UNISON wishes to draw your attention to the fact that there are consequences for the proposed scheme upon those staff that remain.
There is a duty upon you as a single employer under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A), to consult with trade unions regarding the subsequent impact of reduction in staffing upon service areas and those staff that remain.
Our expectation is therefore that such consultations must take place prior to the approval to release any staff under the proposal. This should by necessity include full public consultation, where a service to the citizens of Coventry may cease, particularly in light of the statement in 3.1 of the document, “they are aware of the potential for some non-statutory services to undergo substantial restructuring or even to cease operation”.
UNISON do not believe that the current “consultation” discharges your statutory duty under section 188(4) of the Act (TULR(C)A 1992). We have verbally requested earlier in the consultation that management consider, as alternatives to redundancy, the following steps:
• Review and reduce honoraria payment across all council service areas but particularly in Place Directorate and Hay graded and other senior managers;
• Reduce use of agency workers;
• Immediately cease the employment and use of consultants;
• Review the use of the £11,000,000 underspend.
UNISON is particularly concerned at the lack of detailed information on how the £11,000,000 underspend was achieved and how it will be used, at a time when services are being reviewed or potentially ceased and our members face increasing stress at work because of reductions in staffing and freezing of vacancies. It is not clear, from the evidence provided thus far, that the £11,000,000 underspend is being used to avoid redundancy; rather a very small proportion is set aside to fund the proposed redundancies.
We would bring to your attention Middlesbrough v TGWU and UNISON 2002 (EAT) when considering the points we have raised. UNISON view it as essential that, before progressing any further in this process, meetings are convened with the trade unions to discuss the issues we raise here.
We are concerned about the impact potential impact of 2.2.3 which states in regard to the 50% enhancement “will need to be reviewed to assess viability of sustaining such enhancements for the future”, given this enhancement forms part of the Security of Employment Agreement.
UNISON hereby restates its position that as a trade union we have no intention of entering discussion of this agreement or any other that will detriment our members’ terms and conditions. Similarly UNISON does not accept the principle stated in the document (2.2.14) that you can simply “transfer resource from elsewhere”. This could potentially breach our members’ contract of employment, particularly if their right to consultation is not upheld or if management seek to remove redundancy rights.
UNISON does not accept the level of information offered in 5.1, which sees the employer proposing to make staff redundant, now based on challenges foreseen by “broad financial planning assumptions”, assumptions that may prove inaccurate.
We would ask what the council is going to do to prevent more staff from becoming ill through stress, when currently stress depression and anxiety accounts for approximately 24% of sickness absence across the council? UNISON believe this is a consequence of 4 years of reductions in staffing, freezing of posts but no reduction in expectation upon staff or services. It is of great concern to UNISON to see a rise in issues relating to capability of staff, when there has been an obvious challenge in many of our workplaces in regard to our capacity to achieve unreasonable expectations.
UNISON are concerned that, by agreeing broad and vague statements that relate to our service provision, agreements and terms and conditions in this document, the employer may seek to render further discussion meaningless, in effect invalidating our rights under the disputes procedure. Whilst recognising democratic processes we would expect full and proper consultation prior to any Cabinet or council decisions.
Finally, the authority should undertake a full Equality Impact Assessment, prior to the agreement to release any staff, including those in the bumped pool, to ascertain a clear picture of the impact of this scheme on both staff and public alike.
CONTACT YOUR STEWARD OR BRANCH OFFICE—02476 550829 IF YOU HAVE ANY QUERIES WITH RESPECT TO THIS HOTLINE.
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) made a breakthrough in the European Parliamentary Elections in May 2014. It came first in the election, polling 28 percent of the vote. UKIP are not the only right wing, racist, populist party to make gains in the European elections. Across Europe we have seen a rise of these type of parties and further gains for the fascists such as Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France.
The economic crisis, a rise in racism and Islamophobia, and the failure of mainstream parties to relate to ordinary voters has allowed the growth of the right. We will end up in a dangerous situation if mainstream parties do not challenge UKIP’s racism and scapegoating of immigrants but get pulled behind them.
UKIP is neither anti-establishment or of the people. Alongside its racism towards immigrants and its blatant homophobia are a raft of policies the benefit those in power. UKIP is funded by millionaires and has backed calls for even more cuts than the Tories are putting through, for tax cuts for the super-rich, and for full privatisation of the NHS.
UKIP likes to say it is the “people’s army” in opposition to the political elite in the mainstream parties. But it is a racist party that blames migrant workers for the problems in society it is acting as a shield for the bankers who are really responsible for the economic crisis.
Don’t be fooled by Farage’s racist populism, demonstrate outside UKIP’s policy conference.
Feeling Hard Up – Come to the #Protest at Next Weeks #Tory Party Conference in nearby #Birmingham. Sunday 28 Sep. Assemble Victoria Square from 11am. Supported by Unison, with Dave Prentis speaking. @hardupfestival