Category Archives: pay and conditions

NATIONAL PAY CAMPAIGN

Have your say On your pay

 

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.

UNISON’s claim

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.

Have your say On your pay

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.

Have your say On your pay

Vote Reject

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:

My UNISON

Or you can email changes to unison@camden.gov.uk 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:

http://join.unison.org.uk/

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!

Liz

Liz Wheatley
Branch Secretary
Camden UNISON
London Borough of Camden

Email: unison@camden.gov.uk
Web: http://www.camdenunison.org.uk
UNISON Office
3rd floor Crowndale Centre
218 Eversholt Street
London NW1 1BD

Have your say On your pay

 

Public Sector Pay

The Local Government employers body has finally responded to UNISON rejecting the 1.5% pay ‘offer’ and come back with……1.75%! We all know how vital council workers have been to keeping our communities safe and well during the pandemic, and this is a disgraceful response. There is plenty of money there – the number of billionaires in this country went up during the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Tories gave millions of pounds of public money to their friends and families for ‘covid contracts’ and yet they expect us to quietly accept a pay cut in real terms, and only offer 3% to NHS workers (also a cut in real terms).

You will be consulted about this ‘offer’ in September, and we will be circulating information over the next few weeks, but below are some links to UNISON’s initial comments, plus a couple of things you can do:

1) Update your personal details – you can do that using the link below or by emailing unison@camden.gov.uk Please do not assume that UNISON has your correct address/phone number/workplace etc. It matters that we have your details so that we can include you in the consultation, and if we need to ballot you for industrial action. https://www.unison.org.uk/my-unison/

1. Email your MP – use the link below and share it widely. It only takes a couple of minutes and is one of a number of things that can make a difference:
https://action.unison.org.uk/page/83037/action/1

UNISON information you may want to read:

‘Now is the time – have your say on pay’

Fair pay for council and school workers

Camden UNISON Annual General Meeting 3.30pm, Wednesday 3 March Paid time off has been agreed for Council employees Teams

The last year has been like no other for us in many ways – the pandemic has affected how we live and work and the Black Lives Matter movement has challenged racism in society and the workplace. This makes the branch AGM an important chance for us to discuss how we’ve responded to that and what we want to do over the next year. So please do join us at the online meeting and have your say. The Teams link and agenda has been emailed out to all members, if you haven’t received it or have any other queries please contact unison@camden.gov.uk

Exit Payment Cap Victory!

Many of you not only read about the government limiting the amount local government workers would receive if made redundant, you also wrote to the minister responsible for this, signed petitions and wrote to your MPs. The government pushed ahead with this and made it law in November.  However, it faced a judicial review led by UNISON, and that combined with the campaigning you all did led to the Tories revoking the law after only 3 months.

The government, the Daily Mail and other right-wing cheerleaders said that these regulations were introduced to cut big pay outs to the highest paid public servants when they were made redundant. They set a ‘cap’ to pay outs of £95,000, which sounds a lot.

But in reality this payment cap meant that even lower paid staff could have been caught up by the law. In particular, it would have affected those in the local government pension scheme (LGPS) who were made redundant over the age of 55, as their benefits are payable immediately without any early retirement reduction.

Employers have to cover additional money for the early retirement (so-called ‘pension strain costs’) and when these are added on top off any redundancy payments, this can quickly mount up and exceed the £95,000 cap.

UNISON and other unions made a legal challenge that was due to be heard in a few weeks. However, just as we were finalising our evidence, the government backed down – sneaking out the news on a Friday evening, hoping to dampen down any press coverage! The government says that it has disapplied the regulations, with a view to revoking them completely, because it may have had ‘unintended consequences’.

It’s worth noting that these regulations would only have kicked in when someone was made redundant. And with thousands of jobs having already gone across public services over the last decade of austerity, one job going is still one too many.

The lesson for us here is that campaigning can work!

Don’t let the Tories steal our pensions!

The government has put a cap on the amount you can get if you are made redundant at very short notice and with no meaningful consultation. Most people effected by this will be those who are made redundant who are over the age of 55. It will come into force on 4 November and means from then on, severance packages will not exceed a maximum of £95,000 in value. Although that can seem like a lot, it includes:

 

  • Statutory Redundancy Pay
  • Discretionary Severance Pay
  • Pension strain costs (see below)

 

Pension strain costs

 

Under current regulations a member made redundant or retired on the grounds of efficiency over the age of 55 has to take the pension they have earned in their current LGPS service immediately at the point of redundancy (including any previous LGPS service that a member has combined with the current service). This pension is not reduced by an early retirement factor for early payment as it would be if it was the member retiring voluntarily. The LGPS employer then must pay their LGPS fund the cost of removing the early retirement reduction. The cost is based on the member drawing their pension from their normal pension age. If they draw their pension before their normal retirement age, they are receiving their pension for longer. Depending on how early this can be very expensive and put a strain on the LGPS fund if not paid for. That is why the employer is asked to pay the fund for this cost. This is called the strain cost.

 

So how will this affect the £95,000 cap?

 

This strain cost that the employer pays will be included in the £95,000 exit cap. The cap will also include statutory redundancy pay and any other severance payments.

This means that even some low and medium paid staff may hit the cap if they have more than 30 years’ service and made redundant in their mid to late 50’s.

 

UNISON has consistently and strongly opposed all the above changes since they were first proposed in 2015 and will continue to do so through any means available.

UNISON is responding to the MHCLG consultation arguing that severance should not be eroded and is completely opposed to offsetting the severance payments, including Statutory Redundancy Pay, against payments to remove reductions for pensions for those over 55. This is penal and potentially discriminatory.

 

What can you do?

 

In recent email to members, we have attached letters for you to send in as part of the consultation – please do this as soon as possible. And please keep an eye on any further information we send to you in emails.

SOAS UNISON victory

 

One of our neighbouring UNISON branches at SOAS (part of London University) has been campaigning against management plans to make almost 90 members of staff redundant at the end of this month, including cleaners, catering staff, admin and library workers.

 

At the Camden UNISON branch committee meeting in September, we agreed to support their planned strike action against the compulsory redundancies. However, as they were about to start striking, management asked to meet with the UNISON branch. At the meeting, management withdrew the threat of compulsory redundancies.

 

This is great news for a branch that was one of the first to support our traffic wardens when they were on strike both with donations and by visiting their picket lines. We were really pleased to be able to send a message of support and our Branch Secretary, Liz Wheatley, spoke at their online victory rally.

In the coming weeks, SOAS UNISON will be launching a new Fair Workload campaign to ensure that all SOAS staff have manageable workloads and are appropriately paid for the duties they perform in the new structure.

 

Camden UNISON sending solidarity greetings to Tower Hamlets UNISON

 Camden UNISON sending solidarity greetings to Tower Hamlets UNISON on their strike against imposed changes to their contracts. It is particularly galling when the workers – many of them key workers were clapped for their work during the pandemic only to be “rewarded” with a slap of worse contracts and pay cuts

National Pay Consultation

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No Return To Unsafe Schools

UnisonMeetingSchools21MAY20

The UCU Strike stays solid

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Camden UNISON Branch Secretary Liz Wheatley hands cheques for £326.76 to UCU strikers at UCL, Gower St

UCU members in universities continued their 14 days of action this week with picket lines, protests and teach-outs.

The dispute centres on the sustainability of the staff pension scheme (known as the USS) including rising contribution costs for members, and on universities’ failure to make significant improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

UCU members at 60 universities walked out for eight days in November and December last year in action that affected around one million students. This next wave of strikes affects another 14 universities and an additional 200,000 students, as more UCU branches crossed a 50% turnout threshold required by law for them to take industrial action.

As well as the strike days, union members are undertaking “action short of a strike”. This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘We have seen more members back strikes since the winter walkouts and this next wave of action will affect even more universities and students. If universities want to avoid further disruption they need to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions.”

At the Camden UNISON AGM we heard from a striker about what it’s like to work in a university today, and we voted unanimously to support their strike action and make a donation from the branch. A further £126.76 was collected by members in the meeting.