Management withdraw their proposal for a 37-hour working week

As mentioned in the earlier article below, Camden Council have been consulting with the UNISON branch on changes to terms and conditions that relate to the 4000+ jobs at the Council that are currently covered by the “Green Book” (National Joint Council). The discussions do not relate to craft workers employed in Camden Building Maintenance, school support staff or youth workers – since their terms and conditions are governed by separate agreements.  

One proposal management made was an increase in the standard working week to 37 hours, without any extra pay. This would have amounted to a 5.4% hourly pay cut for staff. They have now withdrawn that proposal in light of subsequent discussions with senior branch officers, but have still said they would be interested in moving to a 36-hour working week – which would amount to a 2.7% hourly pay cut.

One of the arguments used to justify this push for almost entirely detrimental changes to our terms and conditions is that we are “out of line” with other employers. However, the trade union approach to this has always been to argue for the harmonisation upwards of terms and conditions, rather than dragging conditions towards the worst in the local authority sector. Yes, employees at a number of other councils are working 36 hours per week, and they should have their hours reduced to 35 as soon as is feasible, rather than having Camden hours increased to 36. Shorter working hours would not only give those workers more free time, but could also help reduce the number of job losses in their authorities.

The branch meeting on 13 December 2011 emphasised members’ opposition to a move away from “Green Book” terms and conditions, and this is the view that branch officers have been expressing to management in discussions.

Early in 2012 there will be a much more detailed explanation on this site, both of management’s proposals and Camden UNISON’s response to date during the course of the talks. In the meantime, please rest assured that UNISON officers involved have not agreed to sign away anything, while management insists that their intention is not to impose a new framework, but get existing staff to sign up to new terms and conditions voluntarily over an unspecified extended period, which is likely to run for several years.

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