N30 strike FAQ

Frequently asked questions, and their answers, about the November 30 strike against cuts.

What about the “latest offer”?
Although government ministers have been quoted giving details of a new “offer” there haven’t yet been any fresh proposals put to union negotiators.
The possible changes are fairly minor – e.g. not making people in their last 10 years of service retire any later. What doesn’t change is the increase in individual contributions.
The other point about the “offer” is that we wouldn’t have had anything at all from the Govt if we weren’t going on strike. That’s why it is important to make sure the strike is as solid as possible – to keep up the pressure on the coalition to back down on their attacks on our pensions.

 I can’t afford it.
Few UNISON members can afford to lose money but in this dispute you will be losing a lot more than a day’s pay if the current proposals aren’t changed.
These figures show the EXTRA payments you will have to make under the current proposals:
Full time equivalent salary     Extra contributions >   April 2012……..April2014
£25,000                                                          £175                    £450
£35,000                                                          £245                    £665
£45,000                                                          £450                    £810
£55,000                                                          £550                    £990

Members put in hardship due to the strike, who may have difficulty meeting essential bills/housing costs can apply for hardship funds from the branch, by contacting the branch office (020 7974 1633).

Will money come out of my pre-Christmas paycheck?
No. The earliest that the day’s wages will be deducted for Camden employees will be 15 January.

I’m not in the local government pension scheme (LGPS) and it’s too late to join now.
It’s never too late to join the LGPS. While legally unions cannot advise people whether to join or not (only authorised financial advisers can), independent financial advisers will almost certainly advise anyone to join. This is especially important for the future of the scheme which will be weakened if the number of members falls.
More importantly though this is the first national industrial action called by UNISON in many years and the union will be weakened if its members decide to ignore the results of ballots and national strike calls. If we are to have any chance of defending ourselves against future attacks by our employers UNISON must be seen to be an effective union able to mount solid strike action where necessary.
80% of local government employees are members of the scheme, and so if 80% of staff have their pay cut in this way, the government will be back for the remaining 20%.

It will only save the Council money.
Although Camden will save money if it stops strikers pay, the battle isn’t really with the Council but rather with the Government. The only way we can force the Tories to back off is to show them how serious we are about defending our futures and this means being prepared to strike when necessary. However a solid strike in Camden will make the Council think again about future attacks on our local terms and conditions.

I didn’t vote for the strike why should I come out?
This strike ballot had a massive majority for action (78% versus 22%). Whilst there have been criticisms from Govt ministers about the low turnout it was higher than most local elections and some Westminster bye-elections. The UNISON yes vote was also much higher than the percentage of the electorate who voted Tory in the last general election (which was only 23%). It should also be said that the current rules for Trade Union ballots were designed by previous Tory governments to keep turnout low – postal ballots are notoriously poor in this respect. However the bottom line is that our union is a democratic organisation in which policy is determined by majority decisions. It is vital for the future effectiveness of the union for all members to follow national instructions when action is being taken. Whether we are under attack from the Government or our local employers they must know that if a majority of our members vote for action then all our members will come out.

What about exemptions from the strike?
We don’t expect that there will be many exemptions but any requests from management should be sent to the branch office. Stewards mustn’t make separate local arrangements.

I’m not a union member, do I have to cross picket lines?
Any member of staff can join UNISON up to the day of the strike itself, by filling out the paper form or online at http://camdenunison.org.uk/join. You can then take part in the action and be legally protected. Picket lines on the day will still attempt to encourage all members of staff to respect the lines and not cross. Union members are legally protected from any consequences from the employer for taking part in lawful industrial action. Non-members who refuse to cross picket lines could potentially be subject to disciplinary action, however for this to be legally “fair” the same action would have to apply to every single non-member at the employer who did the same. Management have no way of knowing who is a member of a union and who is not, and you do not have to disclose this information to them.

I’m an agency worker, what should I do?
UNISON members who are agency workers were not balloted for industrial action, as they are not eligible for the LGPS. As such, agency workers do not have any legal protection from disciplinary or dismissal action. However, picket lines on the day will attempt to encourage workers not to cross, and so it will be a matter of individual conscience. You could discuss the matter in advance with your line manager, or make alternate arrangements such as taking annual leave or toil. Other agency workers in Camden have refused to cross picket lines before and we are not aware of any previously suffering negative consequences. One former agency worker told us:

I was an agency worker at Camden during the 2006 pension strike.  I know how important it is to protect the pension schemes that exist today, even if I wasn’t eligible for one at a time.  So to support my co-workers I refused to cross the picket line.  I was not victimised, in fact I was praised by my colleagues.  I’m now a UNISON member in a permanent job at Camden, benefiting from the pension which UNISON members help defend.  If agency workers don’t stick with their permanent colleagues then there won’t be any decent permanent jobs left to get in future.”

My manager has asked if I will be going on strike. What should I tell her?
Information about your union membership is confidential. As such you are not obliged to inform your manager if you are a union member or not and what your intentions are on the day of action. If someone for example stated they would not be striking but then decided on the day to join the union and the strike they can

2 responses to “N30 strike FAQ

  1. I am retiring in June 2012, if I go on strike will this affect my pension?

    • Hi Chris, thanks for your question. Due to the pay freeze your pension will most likely not be affected. The only exception would be if you moved up an increment or were promoted this year. If you did move up an increment or were promoted this year, please contact the branch office on the details below.

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