To all Camden UNISON members
This information about pay is for directly-employed Council workers and those on NJC pay. If you work for a private company, you will not be affected by this, but you may be interested in the events at the end, as well as wanting to keep up with what’s happening with pay for Council workers.
On 15 February 2020 UNISON, GMB and Unite lodged the following pay and conditions claim for all council and school workers employed on NJC pay in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The claim from 1 April 2021 was for:
• A substantial increase with a minimum of 10% on all spinal column points
• Introduction of a homeworking allowance for all staff who are working from home
• A national minimum agreement on homeworking policies for all councils
• A reduction of the working week to 35 hours with no loss of pay, and a reduction to 34 hours a week in London. Part-time staff to be given a choice of a pro rata reduction, or retaining the same hours and being paid a higher percentage of FTE
• A minimum of 25 days annual leave plus public holidays and statutory days for all starting employees plus an extra day holiday on all other holiday rates that depend on service.
• An agreement on a best practice national programme of mental health support for all local authorities and school staff.
• A joint review of job descriptions, routes for career developments and pay banding for school support staff, and completion of the outstanding work of the joint term-time only review group.
• A joint review of the provisions in the Green Book for maternity/paternity/shared parental/adoption leave.
You’ll notice that some of the conditions part of it won’t apply to us – we already have more than 25 days annual leave for starting employees, for example – but as well as the headline 10% pay increase, conditions like a homeworking agreement, and the parental leave policies could lead to improvements for us, and of course we stand and fight with those who have worse conditions than us to get improvements for them.
The Employers’ Offer
The employers (and therefore the government) came back with an ‘offer’, aka an insult, of 1.5%. They agreed to complete the outstanding term-time only work, and to discuss some of the other conditions, but with no promises on a WFH agreement, on mental health or parental leave.
This was rejected by UNISON, as it came nowhere near reflecting both the impact of more than a decade of pay cuts and the role we had played in the pandemic. As well as calling on the employers to meet urgently to negotiate further, UNISON was also clear that we need to be campaigning for an increase in funding for Councils, many of which have had budget cuts of 50% over recent years.
Following meetings with the employers, they made a further offer of a 1.75% pay increase, and no change to the conditions part of the claim.
UNISON is now starting consultation with members and is strongly proposing a vote to reject this insult.
It’s Not Enough
The offer falls well short of the claim for a 10% increase. Since 2010, Council workers have lost over 25% of our salary in real terms. That means every week, we now work more than a day a week for free compared to a decade ago. Think about that when you set off to work for free every Friday!
At the same time, the rich have got richer – the UK now has 171 billionaires, up 24 from last year, many who have benefitted from Tory tax breaks and overseas tax havens. Their combined wealth increased more than 20% from last year, at a time when millions of workers were furloughed or lost their jobs.
And whilst Boris Johnson spends £840 per roll of wallpaper and his friends and family get corrupt covid contracts worth billions, working class people this month face a reduction in Universal Credit. Millions of children got fed by a footballer because the Tories don’t care.
There’s enough money to make sure that no-one is hungry or homeless, that our hospitals are staffed and our public services are funded. Public service workers were the backbone of the response to the pandemic and we deserve more than having our funding cut and our pay cut.
It’s right that we have a 10% pay claim, but we need to make sure that it goes alongside a loud, vibrant campaign for fully funded services – all of us have seen council funding massively cut in the last decade and this has to be reversed. Our pay must not be competing with funding for the services we provide.
But the rich and their governments never hand over money if they can help it. We can learn from the Black Lives Matter movement that earlier this year forced a guilty verdict in the trial of George Floyd’s killer – we need to be organised, we need to protest and take action, to say enough is enough.
That’s why we are urging all of you to vote to reject this ‘offer’. Over the next week we will be sending out an online ballot, and you voting REJECT can really make a difference.
What you need to do
First of all, make sure we have the correct details for you – in particular your email and postal addresses. You can update your details on the UNISON website using the link below:
Or you can email changes to email@example.com and we can update them for you.
Then ask your workmates if they’re in UNISON – if not, ask them to join. They can join using the link below:
Feel free to use some of the information in this email to let them know about the claim and that there’s money that could be used. Why not say something about it at the end of your next team meeting?
And check your emails to make sure you get updates and the online vote from Camden UNISON!
London Borough of Camden
3rd floor Crowndale Centre
218 Eversholt Street
London NW1 1BD