NJC pay 2013/14: tell us your views!

UNISON wants to consult with members on your views on the continuing pay freeze, as for most of us our pay has fallen by 13% in real terms since 2009. Camden UNISON will be running an online survey to gather results so please vote.

Attached here is a detailed briefing on pay and the new union claim. Here follows a short summary of key facts:

Since 2009 NJC pay, which the vast majority of council workers get, has fallen by 13% and is now more than 10% below where it was in 1996. 

The UNISON NJC committee agreed that along with the longer term aim of restoring pay levels, other proposed objectives for the pay claim were to ensure that the Living Wage becomes the basic rate of pay in local government, particularly the needs of women workers who make up 77% of the NJC workforce and part-time workers, who are more than half of all employees. 

Given the complex situation we are faced with, the UNISON NJC Committee proposed that we submit a claim this year for:

A substantial flat rate increase on all scale points as a step towards the longer term objective of restoring pay levels and achieving the Living Wage as the bottom NJC spinal column point

Below are some key factors for your consideration:

1. Living Wage

The Living Wage is regarded as the minimum hourly pay needed to provide the minimum essentials of life.  It is £7.20 an hour outside of London and £8.30 in London.

It is evident that there is a growing momentum among local authorities and branches seeking to implement the Living Wage and UNISON has been campaigning this year, and will continue to campaign, for the Living Wage to become the bottom pay scale across local government.  We do not want the Living Wage to be just the result of local bargaining or exchanged for cuts to conditions.

 In 2011, 38% of part-time workers and 8% of full-time workers in local government were earning less than the living wage of £7.20 per hour.  This is a quarter of the workforce. In effect, a claim that looks to a longer term goal of achieving a Living Wage as the bottom NJC scale point equates to a long term recovery plan that would increase the pay of  the bottom scale by 14.3% (outside London) and  5.2% (inner London) 6% (outer London)

2. Low Pay and In Work Benefits:

NJC pay has the lowest bottom rate of all public sector groups and is lower than the rest of the public sector at all levels – for full-time and part-time workers.  Low paid local government employees usually need benefits and tax credits to keep their household out of poverty.  With the changes to working tax credits this year, more families have been pushed onto the margins or actually into poverty.  Low paid part-time workers have been hit the hardest by these changes.

3. £250 Compensation Was Not Paid

The huge majority of local authorities have not paid the £250 promised by the Chancellor to the lowest paid workers earning less than £21,000. Less than twenty councils have paid £250, and virtually all as an unconsolidated one-off payment.  A massive 70% of council employees earn below £21,000 and the sweeping majority are being denied this small buffer against the rising cost of living across the UK. Almost half of the local government workforce (490,000 full time equivalents) earn less than £17,802 basic per annum.  

4. National Minimum Wage Catches Up

The lowest rate in local government is £6.30 an hour.  From October 2012, the adult national minimum wage will be £6.20 an hour.  It is clear that local government is becoming a minimum wage employer for predominantly women part-time workers on the lowest scale point 4.

5. Inflation

Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation ran above 5% through almost the entirety of 2011. During 2012, inflation has gone through a steady decline. However, the huge gap between the public sector pay awards and the rate of increase in the cost of living that opened up during 2010 has been sustained over the last year. Latest inflation figures in June 2012 showed the Consumer Price Index at 2.6% and RPI at 3.2%

Inflation Forecasts

The Treasury average of independent forecasts for the remainder of 2012 suggests that inflation measures will fall a little further, with RPI hitting an average of 2.4% and CPI running around the 2.0% mark. Looking further ahead to 2013, inflation is expected to stablise, with RPI at 2.6% and CPI at 2.0% by the fourth quarter.

Inflation and the Low Paid

Long term studies of the impact of inflation on different income groups still suggest  that low income groups suffer disproportinately. For example, the Institute of Fiscal Studies published a report in 2011 which found that the greater tendency of low income households to spend a higher proportion of their income on fuel and water meant that, on average, lower income households had higher inflation rates than higher-income households. Over the ten year period studied, the group within the second lowest income decile experienced a 41% increase in prices while the highest income decile experienced a 33% increase. The study also went on to note that this differential is likely to continue given the forecasts from the Department of Energy and Climate Change that point to price increases in domestic fuel above that of general inflation over the short term.            
What Pay Claim Would Be Needed To Catch Up

The cumulative effect of the last three years is that pay has fallen by 13% since 2009 and is now more than 10% below where it was in 1996.  This is because pay rises since 1997 have either been just above inflation or below it – as they were in 1998, 2007 and 2008.  Pay freezes in 2010, 2011 and 2012 mean that a bad situation has been turned into a critical one for NJC workers.  The only households with an NJC worker/s above the official poverty line are those with a single adult working full-time or a couple where both adults are working.  Any NJC household, with dependants, has net earnings at – or below – the poverty line.


In conclusion, the UNISON NJC agreed that in the current economic outlook it would not be realistic to expect to claw back the full 13% real terms loss of pay that our members have suffered through a one year pay deal.  Significant pressure will be needed over a sustained period of time to achieve a real terms increase in local government pay.  For these reasons, the NJC Committee agreed to consult branches on the basis of the following claim:

A substantial flat rate increase on all scale points as a step towards the longer term objective of restoring pay levels and achieving the Living Wage as the bottom NJC spinal column point

Camden UNISON wants to consult members of an alternate claim, which is for:
A flat rate increase on all scale points of £2000 per year pro rata.

Members whose e-mail addresses we have will get an e-mail to allow them to vote online. If you don’t get an e-mail, it means we do not have an up-to-date e-mail address for you. To ensure we have your proper contact details please check and update your records via our website. Alternatively contact the branch office on the details at the foot of the page.

We need to return the results to the national union and 14 September, so the vote will close at 10:30 AM on Friday 14 September. So please vote and encourage colleagues to vote as well.

One response to “NJC pay 2013/14: tell us your views!

  1. Just to update people that the voting e-mails have gone out. If you have not received one, please e-mail John.Shepherd at Camden.gov.uk

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