Central Collective Bargaining and UNISON Strategy

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2015 Special Local Government Conference
4 February 2015

The 2014/15 pay rounds presented the union with a series of difficult challenges. Those challenges, and the proposals to resolve them, were finally determined by the membership through UNISON’s exemplary democratic process.

There is a clear determination from the current UK Coalition Government to break central collective bargaining such as the NJC and to replace it with regional bargaining, local bargaining and potentially no bargaining at all. Any such move from central to regional bargaining will deepen inequality and destroy the hard fought commitments on fair pay, equal pay and decent conditions of employment secured over time by this union.

This conference reaffirms its commitment to the development by UNISON, in conjunction with other unions, of a central pay claim designed to restore and protect the pay and conditions of all NJC workers.

This central pay claim must also be capable of acting as the baseline when political devolution impacts on central pay bargaining. For example, in Northern Ireland we have always worked on the principle that if we can secure parity plus for our members then we will have served them well. However, the reality is that in some areas of political devolution the strength of UNISON will secure parity plus, but for regions/nations categorised by low pay economies the threat of regional pay will produce most serious adverse impact for our members. For example, currently in Northern Ireland the devolved Government has admitted that regional pay would mean a pay cut of up to 27% for the majority of our members covered by NJC terms and conditions. It is conceivable that such an adverse impact might be repeated in other regions also suffering from regional economies built on low pay and exploitation.

This Conference is an important opportunity for us, as one union, to develop our plans for future pay bargaining, recognising the centrality of single high quality pay claims which if improved on in one area can be further developed by those gains. If, however, unscrupulous Governments or employers seek to reduce the pay and conditions of one group covered by NJC over another group then we as a union will develop a whole union response in support of any such sector under attack.

Conference resolves to bring together all the relevant UNISON stakeholders to frame the claim and develop the bargaining strategy for the future.