Delegates call for action on local government pay

Local government conference hears that pay has fallen behind that in other public services

Pay, and particularly the government’s insistence on a 1% pay cap, has a massive impact on members working in all the sectors represented by the service group, UNISON’s local government conference in Brighton heard this afternoon.

Head of local government Heather Wakefield called the pay cap “a poisonous Tory cocktail, eating away at your living standards”, but noted that there was something good to report – the success in Scotland of winning more than 1% there.

“Whatever we do,” said Ms Wakefield, “we must do in unity”.

Speaking on behalf of the national joint council committee, covering council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Emma Proctor (pictured) called for action on NJC pay spines.

She pointed out that Chancellor’ George Osborne’s “national living wage” is likely to mean that over a third of the NJC Green Book pay spine will have to be deleted by 2020.

She stressed that research for UNISON revealed just how badly NJC pay has been falling behind that in public services outside local government.

“It must reflect councils’ legal obligations” on equality, added Ms Proctor.

“Our members cannot and will not and should not foot the bill for restructuring”, adding that if the union did not act on the issue, then employers would start doing so on their own.

Edwin Jeffrey, for the executive, said that, after calling this for years, the whole of the NJC pay spine needed reform.

Delegates agreed to urge the executive and the NJC to:

  • develop pay and grading guidance in conjunction with the LGA, GMB and Unite to support local implementation of a pay spine restructure, ensuring representation by low-paid members from the NJC committee;
  • roll out UNISON training to regions and branches on conducting pay and grading reviews and equal pay audits.

After a lengthy debate, which carried over into Monday morning, delegates voted to censure the service group’s NJC sector committee for accepting the employers’ pay offer for 2016-18 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Conference also called for a review of the structure and organisation of the committee and NJC national bargaining.

It also called on the service group executive to consult on and submit a pay claim for 2017-18.

Conference also agreed to:

  • maintain and campaign for the nationally agreed Single Status agreement as a tool for fair and equitable pay;
  • collect information and campaign to tackle the race pay gap which sees Black workers paid less than white workers, and which grows larger the more qualified Black workers get.