Tuesday, 14 October 2014

North West Regional Local Government Service Group Reject The NJC Pay Proposals

MOTION as agreed by the North West Regional Local Government Service Group Meeting 14 October

Reject The NJC Pay Proposals

The North West Regional Local Government Service Group notes with dismay and incredulity the decision of the UNISON NJC Committee on 9 October to call off agreed industrial action and consult members on the‘latest’ proposals from the LGA on the basis they are “the best achievable by negotiation”.

The original offer was made by the LGA on 20 March without any negotiation, as a one-year settlement covering 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015.

The offer was at the minimum government and LGA pay policy of 1% on the pay bill ‘envelope’, which included for some bottom loading(primarily because the National Minimum Wage rate overtook the lowest NJC pay rate on 1 October).

The NJC Committee unequivocally recommended that members reject this offer - which they did, in every Region, leading to the ballot and industrial action on 10 July in pursuit of a ‘significant improvement’.

On 25 September the NJC Committee considered some‘new’ proposals from the LGA (made three weeks before the action agreed for 14 October, but more than two months since the July action). The ‘new’ proposals were for a two-year settlement covering 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2016.

It comprised of a one-off non-consolidated lump sum to be paid (pro rata) in December 2014, followed by a consolidated increase in SCP rates to be paid in January 2015 with no backdating (so effective for 3 months in 14/15 and 12 months in 15/16). SCP 5 would be removed in October 2015.

The NJC Committee rightly rejected these ‘new’proposals on three main grounds:

•      They were not a formal offer and under UNISON’s agreed constitutional procedures in local government we could not put them out to members for consultation.

•      For 2014/15 the total cash value at SCPs 26 and above would be less than the total cash value in 2014/15 under the original offer (the offer we rejected and took strike action to get a significant improvement on).

•      They were insufficient overall; giving little extra cash in 2014/15 below SCP 26 and raising pay rates at SCPs 11 and above by just 2.20% over the full two years,when the minimum government and LGA pay policy would raise pay rates by 2.01%over the same period anyway.

Following rejection of the ‘new’ proposals further‘talks’ were held with the LGA (at which no lay member was present) which produced the ‘latest’ proposal.

The only difference between these “latest” proposals and the previous “new” proposals rejected on 25 September is:

'0.45% of proposed new salaries on SCPs 26-49, of which £100 is to be paid in December 2014 and the remaining balance is to be paid in April 2015.'

An unnecessarily, and perhaps a deliberately,confusing form of words.

1 It means this for members:

For everybody on SCP 5 and right up to SCP 25 there are no “latest” proposals that benefit them whatsoever.

They would get what was in the “new” proposals unchanged.

Everybody on SCP 26 up to SCP 49 will get 0.45% of the proposed January 2015 new SCP rate paid as a non-consolidated lump sum in two parts. The first part is a £100 non-consolidated lump sum paid (pro rata) in December 2014, which is exactly the same as in the first “new” proposals rejected on 25 September. The second part is the balance of the 0.45% minus the£100, and this would be paid as a non-consolidated lump sum (pro rata) in April 2015.

That second non-consolidated lump sum (pro rata and before deductions) would be at each of the SCPs:-

Additional One Off Unconsolidated Lump Sum Paid inApril 2015

SCP 5 to 25 - NIL

26 - £3 27 -£7 28 - £10

29 - £14 30 - £18 30 - £22

31 - £22. 32 -£26 33 - £29

34 - £33 35 - £36 36 - £39

37 - £43 38 - £47 39 - £52

40 - £56 41 - £60 42 -£65

43 - £69. 44 -£73 45 - £77

46 - £81 47 - £85 48 - £89

49 - £93

Nothing more than crumbs glued to the bottom of an already stale, flat and minuscule piece of crust.

In every other respect the ‘latest’ proposals are identical to the ‘new’ proposals that were rejected by the NJC Committee on 25 September.

According to the LGA itself the proposals represent an overall saving on the pay bill increase in 2014/15 compared to the original offer for 2014/15.

To better relate the ‘latest’ proposals for a two-year settlement to the original one-year offer it is necessary to compare the‘latest’ 2014/16 proposal with the original 2014/15 one-year offer that we have already rejected and a realistic assumption for a 2015/16 one-year offer. The original 2014/15 one-year offer was at the minimum government and LGA pay policy of 1% on the pay bill ‘envelope’, with some bottom loading at SCPs 5 to 10.

2 For comparison purposes it is reasonable to assume that if the LGA was to maintain its policy of offering minimum pay awards then in 2015/16 the offer would be the same as 2014/15, a 1% headline increase with the same amount of bottom loading at SCPs 5 to 10.

A more cautious approach would be to assume an offer in 2015/16 that was just 1% on all SCPs with no bottom loading.

The only difference between the two models is at SCPs 5 to 10, as there was no bottom loading in the original offer from SCP 11 and above.

In either case it is important to note that both comparison models would represent a two-year settlement position based on single-year offers we have already rejected, already balloted over, and already taken strike action over to seek a ‘significant improvement’.

The ‘latest’ proposals are little more than are branding of the original offer, extended across two years, and decorated to confuse people they are somehow significantly different and better.

But as close analysis shows, they are neither.

•      The‘latest’ proposals are still not a formal offer. So it’s unclear on what basis we are even able to consult members under our own procedures! But it’s even more bizarre. The letter to members attached to the pay bulletin is very clear- we will be consulting our members on a set of proposals that are not an offer, at the same time as the LGA is consulting every council over whether they agree to turn the proposals into an offer!

•      For 2014/15 the total cash value at SCPs 26 to 49 will still be less than the total cash value in 2014/15 under the original offer (the offer we rejected and took strike action to get a significant improvement on). The additional one-off crumbs in the ‘latest’ proposals - the only “new” thing in them - will only be paid in April 2015.

•      The‘latest’ proposals overall will still be insufficient; they would still be giving little extra cash in 2014/15 below SCP 26 and raising pay rates at SCPs11 and above by just 2.20% over the full two years, when the minimum government and LGA pay policy would raise pay rates by 2.01% over the same period anyway.

•      That’s just 0.19% more after two years than we would get under the minimum government and LGA pay policy.

•      Official  forecasts show inflation will rise by around 4.1% during this time.

•      These‘latest’ proposals will mean that SCPs 5 to 10 will still be less than the Living Wage rate (as a full time equivalent for a 37 hour week). So that part of our claim is not achieved.

•      These‘latest’ proposals will mean that all our members who currently earn less than£21,000 full time equivalent (the Government definition of low pay) will still be earning less than £21,000 full time equivalent in two years time.

•      These‘latest’ proposals will mean that all our members on SCP 9 and above will see their pay fall further beneath inflation over the two year period April 2014 to March 2016 (overall by around 1.5% at SCP 9, 1.75% at SCP 10 and 1.9% at SCP 11 and above).

•      For the vast, vast majority of our members these ‘latest’ proposals would mean a further real term loss of earnings value over the next two tears (at least)with the knock on effects for pensions (way beyond two years). So that part of our claim is not achieved.

3
In fact, not a single part of our pay claim will be achieved or addressed under these ‘latest’ proposals. Not only that, we will beeven further away from halting the massive decline in our living standards,never mind starting to reverse the loss.

We note the latest TUC findings on falling living standards. In particular that UK workers are experiencing the longest and deepest fall in wage values since the 1860’s; and that 6.7 million people are now living in poverty, over half of whom are from working households.

In this context it beggars belief that the NJC Committee on 9 October overturned its own position from 25 September, called off the planned industrial action, and agreed to put these ‘latest’ proposals to our members without even the courage to recommend they should be rejected.

This Regional Service Group believes the implications of this decision could weigh long and heavy on our union in local government.If these pathetic ‘proposals’ are forced through it will, in all likelihood,hasten what increasingly appears to be the possible break-up of the NJC sector pay bargaining machinery.

If agreed these proposals would be a capitulation and a surrender notice to employers that the union will accept further pay cuts in real terms and take no action on behalf of members pay for at least two years,therefore every effort needs to be made to urge members to reject the proposals.

This Regional Service Group agrees:

1.    To send this motion in full to all North West NJC local government branches.

2.    To recommend to all North West NJC local government branches that the proposals  
       should be rejected.

3.    To ensure all North West NJC local government branches are fully aware of what these  
       proposals really mean.

4.    To record our thanks and appreciation to the North West representatives on the NJC
       Committee and Service Group Executive for their consistent efforts to promote and  
       pursue the need for a genuine campaign over pay on behalf of our members.

5.    To utilise a forthcoming Regional Service Group meeting for an honest, frank and
       detailed discussion on future pay bargaining.

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