Living Standards Pay Justice and the Living Wage

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Conference
2016 National Delegate Conference
Date
25 February 2016
Decision

Conference notes research by the House of Commons Library in January 2016, which showed that 2010-2020 will be the worst decade for pay growth in almost a century and the third worst since the 1860s.

Conference considers this a damning indictment of successive Coalition and Conservative government policies on public sector pay, social security and the wider economy that have led to an unprecedented reduction in living standards for people across the UK.

Conference is dismayed that the continuation of austerity throughout the current Parliament is to be accompanied by an ongoing public sector pay cap of 1% yearly increases.

Conference notes the attempt by the chancellor George Osborne to hijack the living wage idea with his plans for the “National Living Wage”.

Conference recognises that this may lead to some welcome increases in pay for some UNISON members, but at the same time emphasises that this is in reality merely a raising of the National Minimum Wage level, and even then only for the over-25s.

Conference resolves to continue campaigning for the real living wage to be applied across the UK.

Conference congratulates UNISON and others on the resolute campaigning against government changes to tax credits, which led to a climbdown by Osborne at the comprehensive spending review in December 2015.

However, Conference recognises that this represents merely a delaying of the pain that working families will experience, with the cuts to Universal Credit set to come in from April 2016.

Conference believes it is now time to reverse the constant squeeze on members’ pay and living standards.

Conference welcomes the National Executive Council review of pay campaigning agreed in December 2015 and notes as a result:

1)The union has begun a process of reviewing anniversary dates with a view to alignment (thus facilitating cross union action);

2)The union has taken steps towards a review of industrial action tactics in the light of the Trade Union Bill, and is reviewing how different national contexts affect it;

3)The relevance of a union wide campaign, building on the “Worth It” initiative, covering public, private and community and voluntary sectors based on the themes of pay justice and total pay, and incorporating campaigns on the living wage, equal pay, workplace issues such as zero hours and staff shortages.

Conference believes that pay campaigning must be integral to the whole union at national, regional and branch level.

Conference therefore calls upon the National Executive Council to:

a)Continue to build a campaign for an end to the punitive public sector pay cap, and where necessary in line with industrial action guidelines build towards industrial action;

b)To continue to build pay campaigns across UNISON’s bargaining structures where possible;

c)Continue to highlight falling living standards and the impact that government welfare policy is having on these;

d)Campaign for a proper living wage across the UK;

e)Ensure the campaign is linked in to UNISON’s wider anti-austerity campaigning for public services in a way understandable by members;

f)Produce activist and steward training to build member confidence when talking about pay issues in the workplace;

g)Where possible to link and coordinate such campaigns across sectors and unions in line with TUC policy.