Pay in the Community and Voluntary Sector

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2008 Local Government Service Group Conference
22 February 2008
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that, despite strong campaigning by UNISON, pay and conditions for our members in the community and voluntary sector (CVS) are inferior to those in the public sector. UNISON members in the community and voluntary sector have long had a very strong involvement as providers of social care. As CVS organisations provide an increasing number of core public services and this pay gap becomes more acute, it becomes increasingly unacceptable for our members.

Conference also notes that the shift in emphasis in government funding for the sector, from grants to contracts awarded to the lowest bidder, is forcing many CVS employers to reduce terms and conditions, attack TUPE, and make many members redundant.

Contracting out of public services causes falling pay, two-tier workforces, job insecurity, health and safety problems, changing job roles, changing working hours, high levels of stress, and poor work-life balance. A UNISON survey of workers in housing associations, carried out in 2007, found that a quarter of housing association workers earn less than £17,000, with some people still earning less than £6 an hour, and that a fifth of housing workers have either a poor money purchase pension or no pension at all.

Future career prospects for our members are also being damaged by varying terms and conditions and a lack of adequate education and training in the community and voluntary sector.

Conference also notes that transfers to the community and voluntary sector present serious challenges to UNISON as we seek to recruit, retain and organise members.

Conference believes that recruitment campaigns should promote the fact that, according to the 2007 housing association survey, union members earn more than non-members right across the pay distribution.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1)continue to organise workers delivering public services, whichever sector they work in, supporting the vital work that they do, selecting strategic organising targets where recruitment, organising and bargaining gains can be made;

2)concentrate national bargaining and campaigning efforts on seeking to achieve terms and conditions equivalent to those in the public sector for members in CVS organisations providing public services, and better pay generally for UNISON members in the sector;

3)produce a guide to terms and conditions in the housing association sector, to assist branches negotiating with housing associations on behalf of members;

4)Campaign for a national voluntary sector pension scheme and a sector skills council for the voluntary sector.