The 2014 National Joint Council (NJC) Pay Campaign is effectively over and it appears that the vast majority of local government workers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are saddled with a pay deal that will run until 31 March 2016, and amounts to a real pay cut. Members of all three recognised unions voted to accept a complex revised offer from the council employers’ umbrella body, the Local Government Association, which involves a 2.2% increase on basic pay for the vast majority of staff from January next year, but no back-dating to the start of the financial year and only a taxable lump sum of £100 by way of ‘compensation’.
The proposal also leaves tens of thousands of directly employed local government workers on hourly rates substantially below the current Living Wage (soon to rise to £7.85 outside London and to £9.15 in the capital).
Your branch committee strongly recommended rejection of the proposal and two-thirds of members voting in the consultation backed that position. In some London branches the vote to reject was nearly eight-to-one. Among UNISON’s 11 geographical regions two – Greater London and the North West – voted by clear majorities to reject the offer, but overall nearly 65% of UNISON members voting accepted.
Despite the vote, there are signs of widespread discontent both with the settlement and the overall handling of the NJC pay dispute. As a result, there is a strong possibility that there will be sufficient support for a call from the Manchester branch to hold a special conference of delegates from local government branches to debate the lessons from this year’s ultimately unsuccessful pay campaign.
Meanwhile, Camden UNISON will be seeking clarification from HR about the implementation of the package and, in particular, what it means for staff on the so-called P&M contracts.