Decision to Cancel Strike Action on 14th October 2014

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2015 Special Local Government Conference
6 February 2015
Carried as Amended

This Special Conference believes that the decision taken by the National Joint Council (NJC) Committee on 9th October to call off strike action due to have taken place on 14th October was a grave error of judgement.

In particular conference is critical of the communication with branches and members.

We note that:

9th October the Local Government Association (LGA) issued a press release which stated “Revised proposals for local government pay, as proposed to the LGA by the trades unions will now be put to councils for consideration”.

9th October The leader of the Labour Group Office of the LGA writes to the General Secretary of UNISON stating:

“ I am prepared to recommend to the NJC Employers that option 1a is put forward to staff for consultation, subject to the following assurances and support from the trades unions;

1)That the strike action scheduled to take place on Tuesday 14th is postponed

2)That trade unions acknowledge to their members that this is a significant improvement on the original offer of 1% and that there is no recommendation to reject the pay offer”.

The General Secretary attended the NJC meeting on that day where the letter was circulated.

9th October NJC Committee meet and call off the action.

9th October Sky News report that strike action is called off.

10th October 13.30 hrs e-mail sent to all members stating “planned Local Government strike on Tuesday 14th October now suspended”.

15th October NJC Pay bulletin number 52 sent to branches. The bulletin reiterated that UNISON had on 2nd October made it clear to the employers that their proposals were not acceptable and yet just seven days later action is suspended following an ‘improved offer’ for an additional lump sum to be paid in April “to ensure that no-one would receive less than the equivalent of 1% in cash value in 2014.

It is barely believable that the planned action was called off on the basis of such a minimal change in the revised proposal which was not even a formal employer’s offer without any specific consultation with regions and branches ?and members on the ‘improved’ suggested settlement.

The same bulletin stated that at the NJC Committee on 9th October only two regions argued strongly for continuation of the action with one split on the issue. The remaining regions carried the vote to suspend action following “views within their Regions”. This conference is unclear when a so called improvement was made and who were involved in those discussions. It is also noted that on a practical level it would have been impossible for regions to consult branches in such a short timescale and therefore how representative the views of delegates were at the NJC on 9th October is questionable.

The decision to call off action led to complete confusion and dismay amongst both activists and members which was compounded by disbelief that a two year agreement had been entered into for a pittance above the 1% a year offer that was already on the table.

This Special Conference agrees that:

Any decision to suspend strike action must involve a consultation process that is clear and transparent involving Branches and Regions which at a minimum is at least at the same level as the consultation process which agreed the claim.