People like you who work in our schools and councils provide the vital local services that hold our communities together. But you haven’t had a proper pay rise for years.

Instead, while your pay has been frozen or capped and your conditions slashed, prices are rising and you are falling further behind.

That’s no way to treat people who work hard to ensure that everyone in our society is looked after, educated and safe. It’s time the government really started to value the work you do and pay you fairly.

That’s why UNISON has submitted a pay claim to the Local Government Association (LGA) for a 5% pay increase on all NJC pay points and the scrapping of NJC pay points SCP 6-9 so that nobody falls below the real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour (£9.75 in London).

And we want Fair Pay Now!

Everyone in schools and councils urgently needs a pay rise that helps you keep up with cost of living rises over the next year and starts to make up for the pay you have lost in real terms since 2010.

The government is now under real pressure to scrap the 1% pay cap on public sector wages and UNISON will continue to push hard to get the funding councils and schools need to give you a fair pay deal.

We can’t miss this opportunity: they won’t pay up if we don’t all speak up. Email your councillors today and ask them to raise the issue of NJC pay at every opportunity.


Pay cap: the numbers behind public sector pay

Public sector pay is in the news – but what exactly are the numbers behind the pay cap?



Fair pay now for council and school workers

  • Why is this a women’s campaign?

    Women ARE the majority of the workforce. 78% of school support and council workers are women. 61% of all school support and council jobs are part-time/term-time and women do over 90% of these part time jobs. Many of you have more than one part time job to make ends meet. The disproportionate impact of cuts means the gender gap in local government has risen by 3% since 2010. It now stands at 80.8% of men’s pay – a much bigger gap than across the economy as a whole.

    Women are being hit by the impact of the cuts on both sides. As workers in councils and schools, you are struggling with low pay, increasingly heavy workloads and the constant threat of further redundancies. As service users, the cuts to local services mean that there is less help available to you, forcing many of you to go without the support  you need for  yourself and  your family.

    Many women in councils and schools depend on benefits to make ends meet. Benefits now make up twice as much of women’s incomes as men’s.  They will be the hardest hit by working tax credit cuts. Women are more likely to pay for childcare and children’s clothing. So children’s wellbeing depends on women earning a decent wage.

    Councils and schools are the largest employers of women in the UK. Schools and councils should set the highest standard on pay, equal pay, part-time and term-time rights, maternity rights, childcare, eldercare and flexible working. Instead, Government cuts are turning them into hard-nosed ‘bargain basement’ employers. Join our campaign and demand pay justice for women.

  • How is the Foundation Living Wage UNISON is campaigning for different to the National Living Wage?

    The National Living Wage fails to properly take account of the cost of living.  The calculation of the NLW doesn’t change in line with increases in the price of food, electricity bills, mortgage payments or rents.

    The Foundation’s ‘real’ Living Wage is £1,832 more per year for a full-time worker than the Government’s rate. The Living Wage Foundation uprates it using a rigorous formula that takes the cost of living into account. And it applies to everyone regardless of age.  The Government’s NLW and NMW rates don’t.

  • What is the UK Foundation Living Wage? Is it the same as the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage?

    The UK Foundation Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay set independently and updated annually. It is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. The calculation takes into account things like accommodation, travel, healthy food and a computer and birthday presents, necessary for a decent life.

    The current UK Foundation Living Wage is £8.45 an hour and the current London Living Wage is £9.75 an hour. The Living Wage is reviewed each year by independent academics. Increases in the rates are announced in November during Living Wage Week. Employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis.

    It is not the same as the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW). The NLW is the legal minimum an employer can pay those aged  25 and over per hour – most NJC workers. It is currently £7.50. The NMW  applies to workers under 25 and  apprentices – you must be at least school leaving age to get it. Employers break the law if they fail to pay this rate.  The current rate is:

    Ages 21 and over:  £7.05

    Ages 18 – 20:         £5.60

    Under 18:               £4.05

    Apprentice:             £3.50

  • Will this campaign really be able to change the government’s policies?

    There are major benefits to the economy that would arise from lifting the government’s 1% public sector pay cap and easing the squeeze on your  living standards. These include increasing the tax ‘take’ and National Insurance contributions as people’s take home pay increases, a boost in the collection of additional indirect taxes as more take-home pay is spent on goods and services and a multiplier effect arising from increased spending.

    The bigger agenda is that we are not all in it together! The government is cutting local government expenditure and driving down pay. Coalition and Conservative governments since 2010 have cut council funding more than any other sector, although education cuts are starting to bite hard. You have borne the brunt of these cuts. Widespread pressure and campaigning can change government policy.

    Austerity has become unpopular – even with some Tory MP’s – due to the general election results and uncertainly around the economy because of Brexit. The latest British Social Attitudes survey shows that public tolerance of austerity is collapsing. The survey conducted in 2016 found popular support for higher taxes and increased public spending is stronger than it has been for more than a decade.

  • Won’t more pay mean losing more jobs and services?

    Cutting your pay will not protect jobs and services. You are doing far more for less – and working unpaid overtime. But jobs are still under threat and less secure than private sector jobs. Councils say they cut pay to save jobs, but while your pay is help down year after year, jobs still disappear and services continue to be stripped to the bone, privatised or stopped altogether. Your pay should reflect the fact that you are keeping services and schools going – against the odds.

  • Is the claim affordable?

    Many NJC workers are reliant on in-work benefits. This shocking fact means that  taxpayers  are subsidising schools and councils to pay poverty wages. The large savings made by paying the lowest paid local government workers the Living Wage and restoring earnings could be channelled back by the Treasury into NJC pay settlements.

  • Is the claim affordable?

    Many NJC workers are reliant on in-work benefits. This shocking fact means that  taxpayers  are subsidising schools and councils to pay poverty wages. The large savings made by paying the lowest paid local government workers the Living Wage and restoring earnings could be channelled back by the Treasury into NJC pay settlements.

  • I already earn above the UK Foundation Living Wage/London Foundation Living Wage – Why is this campaign important to me?

    Our pay claim is asking for everyone on the lowest pay point to be paid at least the UK Foundation Living Wage (or London Living Wage) rate. If you are paid above the UK Living Wage, the claim is also important for you because we are calling for a 5% increase for everyone paid above it.

    Pay cuts across councils and schools affect not just those on the lowest pay, but the entire workforce. For the vast majority, last year’s pay ‘increase’ represented the eighth consecutive pay cut since 2010. Everyone being paid above the Living Wage has suffered a 21% fall in the value of their pay in real terms, because of the three-year pay freeze and because pay increases have fallen below inflation.

  • Although my salary is on NJC scp 6, I receive the UK Foundation Living Wage as a supplement – Why is it necessary to scrap the lower NJC pay spine points?

    The deletion of scp’s below the UK/London Foundation Living Wage gives you more security. Your employer could stop paying you the supplement. If you work for a community school, your employer can decide not to pay the supplement but has to follow the scp used by their council.

  • What are NJC spinal column points (scps)? Are they the same as grades?

    Every employee’s basic pay relates to a pay point or points on the NJC pay spine. The bottom of the NJC spine starts at scp 6 and the top is scp 49. At present scp 6 is £15,014 a year and scp 49 is £43,821. Grades are not agreed by the NJC. Each authority (or school) uses job evaluation and the NJC pay spine to construct their local grading structure.  Some employers start their bottom grade above scp 6 and many extend the NJC pay spine locally above scp 49.

    The Trade Union Side submits an annual pay claim, to be implemented on 1 April. Sometimes agreements are for more than one year. The increase agreed is applied to the NJC pay spine. UNISON bulletins will refer to NJC pay points or scp’s because employers have different grading structures. You should check with your branch how the NJC pay spine applies to your pay and grading structure.

  • How do I know if my pay is on the NJC pay scale?

    NJC agreements in the Green Book are not legally binding. It is adopted voluntarily and NJC employers are not obliged by law to incorporate NJC terms into their employees’ contracts.

    But the great majority of councils and most schools do. Collective agreements like the Green Book are part of your contract of employment where local authorities or schools refer to them in your contract.

  • How is my pay negotiated?

    As a worker in local government – or in most schools and academies – your pay and other conditions are determined by a negotiating body called the National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Government Services (NJC). Over 1.5 million workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have their pay and conditions  set by the NJC.

    The NJC Trade Union Side is made up of representatives from UNISON, GMB and Unite. The Local Government Association represents local authorities and school employers in negotiations. Many other organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors also follow the NJC’s agreements, which are found in the ‘Green Book’.