UNISON feedback on National Pay claim
*NJC Report from 1st May 2020
The NJC UNISON side met remotely on May day to take a position on the revised offer received from the national employers of 2.75% and an increase on the basic green book leave entitlement from 21 to 22 days but with no corresponding increase in the long service leave so effectively it meant bringing forward one of the days previously awarded at five years’ service. We are aware the majority of London Councils do not use the Green Book scheme having agreed more generous local provisions.
The meeting was held on a video-conference system which has been approved by Head Office as a tool that protects security and participation. London Region was fully represented with Sean Fox, Clara Mason and Mary Lancaster in attendance.
Prior to the meeting we had sought views from Branches via the regional office, apologies for the shortness of time and thanks to the 25 Branches who responded out of the 33 consulted. Of these 17 supported a recommendation to Reject and 8 supported a recommendation to accept the revised offer.
The meeting received an update from the negotiating team on our efforts to further engage the national employers in joint approaches to central government to source more funding to allow a greater increase. Particularly at the current time when workers in local government are performing vital roles to keep people safe and to provide key services. While the National Employers accepted this the view they had taken was that pursuance of such funding was a matter for the political leadership of the devolved nations rather than part of the negotiations, they also reiterated that the current offer was their final offer and that there had been no appetite to offer a reduction in the working week although they would be happy to enter into “without prejudice” discussions on this as part of the ongoing challenge to meet increased national living wage levels in future years.
We received feedback from the regions which was mixed almost unanimously they expressed a view that the offer was insufficient but there were differing views on whether members would have an appetite for action in the current climate. Some thought it would strengthen the feeling while others were concerned people would be frightened of another economic downturn leading to more cuts.
There was a lengthy discussion on whether consultation was feasible in the current lock-down and a consensus emerged that was reflected in the bulletin issued on 4th May 2020 to Branches. In short this meant that we would go back to the employers and would not accept their offer as being final until approaches had been made to government to seek additional funds. Our concern was to ensure we did not consult members on an offer that would weaken the argument for more money to reflect our contribution to the Covid 19 response.
The full statement can be found at https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2020/05/lg-pay-statement/ there is also a blog from Jon Richards at https://www.unison.org.uk/blogs/2020/05/blog-njc-pay/
The only other item discussed was the NJC Guidance on Covid 19 and we explored a number of areas where updated or further guidance might be developed. This included of course the need for robust advice on the eventual relaxation of the lock-down in order to keep members safe. Officers also highlighted they were running some press items on the inadequacy of the Public Health guidance on shielding particularly where workers were living with someone who was shielding. There were concerns that some authorities were adopting these weaker Public Health guidance in preference to the far clearer and safer NJC Circulars issued jointly.
See https://southeast.unison.org.uk/news/article/2020/04/milton-keynes-council-criticised-risking-health-vulnerable-staff/ regarding one Council and https://www.unison.org.uk/news/2020/05/frightened-workers-self-isolating-protect-vulnerable-loved-ones-shouldnt-punished/ regarding UNISON’s National campaign for a more protective and supportive furlough scheme.
Branches having issues with regard to the non-adoption of the NJC provisions by employers who are part of the NJC were asked to make their Regional Office aware of these examples. Generally members of the NJC welcomed the circulars issued to date and the point was made that they demonstrated the role of the NJC being about more than simply pay.
Sean Fox, Clara Mason, Mary Lancaster
* National Joint Council
To view chronology of 2020 National Pay negotiations click on link below.