UNISON accepts NJC pay offer but vows “enough is enough”

UNISON has today voted to accept the 2013-14 NJC pay offer for its local government members.

But the union’s local government secretary Heather Wakefield has warned employers that “enough is enough”, and that the union will be mounting an immediate, high-profile campaign “to stop the rot” – building towards industrial action in the event that the offer in 2014 is not acceptable.

In voting for the 1% pay increase, with an extra 1.4% for the lowest paid, the NJC committee noted it was “completely insulting” and did not come anywhere near the union’s aspirations.

In UNISON’s branch consultation, 59% of members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 78% of branches voted to accept the offer.

Ms Wakefield noted that local government pay and conditions were now the worst in the public sector. The earnings of NJC workers had fallen by 18% since the coalition came to power, while their pay-related conditions had been cut at local level “whenever they turn their backs”.

She added: “They will take no more. And SJC workers in Scotland feel the same. The assault on the pay and conditions of local government workers across the UK has to stop and stop now.

“Our members in local government are the people keeping local services going, despite 380,000 job losses across councils. They are the people helping the unemployed, the homeless, the elderly and the young keep their lives together in a crisis not of their making.

“They are the people helping local economies to stay alive and keep our environment safe. They are the people who deserve respect, not constant pressure to do more for less and less.”

Pay will be one of the hot subjects of the local government conference, in Liverpool on 16-17 June, where delegates will debate a composite motion calling for a halt to poverty pay in local government.

The motion notes that over half a million council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – nearly a third of the workforce, and mostly women – earned less than £15,000 in 2011–12.

UNISON Scotland is currently campaigning for members to vote yes in a strike ballot that will open on 3 July.

Other topics before delegates include the government’s attack on facility time, in both the civil service and local government, the pressures on teaching assistants in schools, particularly the lack of training and development, and the launch of UNISON’s Ethical Care Campaign in defence of the UK’s committed but poorly-paid and treated homecare workforce.