- 2008 Local Government Service Group Conference
- 12 June 2008
Conference condemns the Government proposed 3 year 2% public sector pay ceiling. With inflation at more than 4% for the past year this is effectively a pay cut and at the same time pay rises in the private sector are running at 3.5% – 4%. Conference also condemns the blatant hypocrisy demonstrated by a majority of the members of the Labour dominated and publicly funded National Assembly for Wales in voting themselves an 8.3% pay increase. We need to achieve an annual pay rise that matches inflation as a minimum, if people are going to continue to see local government as an attractive employment option.
Conference is pleased to note that Pay has been prioritised by the Service Group Executive and that shortcomings in last year’s campaign have been acknowledged. However, a successful pay campaign cannot be run in isolation.
A fair deal for council workers will require a co-ordinated campaign across the different Service Groups within UNISON, and between other Trade Unions representing workers in Local Government.
Conference notes the pay claim for local government workers covered by the National Joint Council (NJC), for 2008-9 is an increase of 6% or 50 pence an hour on all pay points, whichever is the greater.
Conference believes that a minimum rate of £6.50 pence an hour is modest and a vital step towards a minimum living wage of £6.75 pence. We want to make up for real cuts of 2% in NJC pay in 2007-8 and keep up with predicted inflation and average earnings increases over the coming year. Conference notes that the Local Government Employers (LGE) are currently consulting Authorities and the negotiations will start in March. The Trade Union Side is clear that the deadline for starting to consult our members on the final offer should be 1 April 2008.
UNISON, the TUC and other public service unions are campaigning against the Government’s policy of keeping public sector pay awards consistent with a 2% inflation target over the next three years. Economists everywhere agree that public sector workers – around one fifth of the labour force – are not responsible for inflation. No-one disputes that spiralling housing and fuel costs underpinned last year’s 4% plus RPI figures. The Government’s preferred measure of inflation – CPI – excludes housing costs and council tax.
Council workers are faced with job loss, service cuts, attacks on terms and conditions and privatisation as council’s respond to cuts in Government funding, the necessity to deliver 3% year on year efficiency savings, the promotion of commissioning and the introduction of equal pay. Our members understandably see these issues as of the same or in some cases even greater importance than pay alone.
Conference also notes, as the LGE pointed out last year, that our members continue to make a huge contribution to the improvement in councils’ performance and deliver enormous efficiency savings. This could not have happened without the dedication and skill of our members – a pay rise linked to performance on this occasion would be welcome and fair!
Conference agrees UNISON’s pay strategy must recognise all of these pressures and be broad based to tackle the issue of funding and demonstrate the importance of maintaining quality in-house services rather than out-sourcing to cheaper, but poorer quality, service providers. Conference notes the widespread disappointment at the failure to win support for more than a minimal pay increase in 2007 and is clear that a sustained campaign would have helped to increase the turn out and the margin of the ‘YES’ vote in the ballot. We therefore need to be building a strong proactive campaign around these issues that will sustain itself and grow over the years rather than running a reactive campaign against the unacceptable pay rises we are offered year-on-year.
Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to:
1)Produce regular information for Regions and Branches to ensure members are kept fully up to date, including utilising the website and the media as appropriate;
2)Encourage Regions and Branches to prioritise recruitment of non-members to increase UNISON density in NJC conditioned employers;
3)Encourage Regions and Branches to work with GMB and UNITE at a Regional and local level to deliver an effective campaign on pay for this year and beyond;
4)Ensure all appropriate members on NJC conditioned pay are part of the campaign; including working with Regions and Branches to identify and update records of NJC conditioned membership in ‘non-core’ employers;
5)Seek to co-ordinate pay campaigns across all sectors in UNISON including the co-ordination of separate industrial action ballots and timetables to lead co-ordinated industrial action wherever possible
6)Seek to co-ordinate pay campaigns with other public sector trade unions including the co-ordination of separate industrial action ballots and timetables to lead to co-ordinated industrial action wherever possible.
7)Discuss with Labour Link the most effective way of lobbying MPs for support
8)Continue to work with other Service Groups and appropriate trade unions to oppose the Government’s pay policy as it stands; and to further develop a strategic approach to pay over the medium and long term, taking account of the wider issues and pressures faced by our members.