Lessons from the 2002/3 Local Government (England, Northern Ireland and Wales) Pay Dispute

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2003 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2003
Carried as Amended

This Conference welcomes the report on ‘Lessons from the 2002/3 Local Government (England, Northern Ireland and Wales) Pay Dispute’. Conference also notes that a similar exercise took place in Scotland post the 1999 dispute.

Conference calls on the SGE to ensure that its recommendations are acted upon at all levels of the union, after discussion with the Scottish Local Government Committee, incorporating further relevant information to ensure maximum effectiveness of all future disputes and industrial action.

Conference notes the outcome of the England, Wales and Northern Ireland pay dispute and consequently the work of the Local Government Pay Commission into local government pay. Conference also notes that the Scottish Joint Council deal on pay concluded 1 April 2003. Conference believes that throughout local government there is a need for:

1)A significant increase in investment in the workforce to give our members a fair deal and to help councils achieve top quality services

2)Improved pay for all local government staff, to at least match the rest of the public and private sectors and end the recruitment and retention crisis

3)Improved funding of Single Status job evaluation and pay and grading reviews to end the scandalous gender pay gap

4)An end to discriminatory working practices – such as term-time working – which result in shameful levels of pay for part-time women workers

5)Improved conditions of service for our members, including genuine family-friendly working practices, improved rights for parents and their partners and proper recognition of weekend, Bank Holiday and unsocial hours working

6)Major investment in workforce development and training to provide better career opportunities and improved service delivery

7)Decent pension entitlement for all staff, in line with the local government pension scheme based on fair levels of pay

Conference notes with concern the agenda being promoted by local, regional and national local government employers and the Governments.

This includes:

a)Support for decentralised or regional pay bargaining

b)Abolition of the national pay spine, with local determination of grades and pay within a national minimum and maximum rate

c)More ‘flexibility’ within the Single Status Agreements, with reduced core provisions in Part Two and others expressed as guidance in Part Four

Conference therefore calls on the SGE to initiate a vigorous campaign around the 2004/5 pay claims and beyond. The 2004/5 claims should be based on the widest possible consultation.

Our campaign should:

i)Call on the Governments and councils to ‘Invest to Improve’ to end the neglect of the local government workforce and help deliver top quality public services by well-rewarded and well-trained staff

ii)Aim to end low pay throughout local government, close the scandalous gender pay gap, end discrimination against part-time workers and the neglect of workforce development

iii)Ensure that national bargaining arrangements are strengthened, not weakened

Conference also calls on the SGE to involve branches and regions in such a campaign, and provide them with support and materials to make such a campaign effective.