2002 Pay Campaign

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2003 Local Government Service Group Conference
18 February 2003

This Conference applauds the action of UNISON members in local government in both organising and delivering effective strike action in such overwhelming numbers on 17 July 2002 in pursuit of the local government pay claim. However, this Conference expresses intense concern about the decision by the Trade Union Side of the National Joint Council (endorsed by the National Local Government Sector Committee) to suspend the projected day of all-out strike action scheduled to take place on 14 August and the range of selective action being put in place from 15 August.

This Conference expresses further major concern that our national negotiators and the National Committee also put in place a lengthy consultation exercise to conclude in mid-September and recommended acceptance of a set of proposals which fell woefully short of our just claim and, in particular, did little to address the fundamental concerns of huge numbers of low paid members.

Whilst welcoming the advances made in relation to staff employed on Spinal Column Points 4 and 5, and whilst accepting that the establishment of a Local Government Pay Commission may provide some possibilities regarding longer term advance, this Conference recognises that the vast bulk of UNISON members in local government have, following acceptance of this offer, been condemned to at least two further years in which they will receive a mediocre percentage offer of 3.5% in each year, and the flat rate element of our claim was, yet again, almost entirely ignored. This Conference acknowledges that, despite the subsequent clear vote for acceptance of these proposals, this situation has caused considerable frustration and anger amongst large sections of our local government membership and has severely damaged the reputation of UNISON in the eyes of many of those who participated in the dispute with a view to resolving the issues flagged up by our “Catch Up and Match Up” publicity which was widely distributed during the pay campaign.

This Conference believes that the decision to embark on a full-fledged consultation exercise, rather than to take informal soundings over a shorter period without suspending the scheduled action, was tactically badly mistaken and was exceptionally demoralising to large numbers of branch activists and, more important, to huge sections of our membership – particularly those who may not be employed on SCP4 and 5 but nevertheless regard themselves, and continue to be almost universally regarded, as low paid. Furthermore, this Conference believes that the long consultation period, combined with the pronouncements of National Officers of all three trade unions involved that the proposals represented a great victory, meant that many members recognised that it would be very difficult for branches to organise the effective further action necessary to achieve a more acceptable offer, and therefore concluded that a reluctant vote for acceptance was the most realistic way forward.

This Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to take full account of the above criticisms and concerns when formulating and pursuing future national pay campaigns.