Over the last few weeks you should have been contacted by UNISON to ask if you wanted to accept or reject the local government employers’ offer of a 1.75% pay rise, for council and school workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Yesterday we received the results and 79% of those who voted, voted to reject the offer.
Today, the committee you elect to make key decisions on members’ behalf, decided that we should move to ballot members to ask if you are willing to take industrial action. You can read more about the decision on our campaign site:
The strength of feeling amongst the members that voted is resounding – 79%! This is not surprising considering what an inadequate, unfair offer it is. Over the last 18 months you have gone above and beyond to keep vital services going, often risking your own safety to do so. Yet, you were offered a real terms pay cut (considering inflation has been above 3% for some time now), and the value of local government pay has fallen by 25% since 2010.
I do not want us to underestimate the task we have on our hands – we need absolutely every member to vote in the upcoming ballot.
We hope you will receive your ballot papers in November or early December.
But I wanted to get in touch to let you know what is happening. I will be in touch soon to let you know what you need to do.
In the meantime, make sure you tell your colleagues. And if they’re not a member of UNISON, that means they won’t be able to vote, so make sure you tell them to join and have their say!
A few weeks ago, one of the most restrictive anti-choice laws in the US came into effect in Texas, SB8. It bans all abortions beyond 6 weeks gestation, a point at which most people don’t even know they are pregnant. Anyone involved in the process, from a doctor to a taxi driver or friend can be fined up to $10,000 if a member of the public sues them. The Supreme Court declined to intervene, meaning that the Roe Vs Wade ruling that legalised a woman’s right to choose in the US is now massively undermined.
A woman’s right to control her body has always been a trade union issue – in fact the biggest protest ever to defend this was organised by the TUC. On 2 October, there will be protests in every state of the US, and Abortion Rights UK has called solidarity marches here. In London, it is assembling at 12 noon in Trafalgar Square and marching to the US Embassy. We would like to encourage branches to circulate this information to their members and, for those who feel able, to join the march with your branch UNISON banner.
Colleagues from Adult Health and Social Care are also affected by this new legislation as anyone attending care homes as part of their work will also have to be vaccinated against COVID. We are having constructive and positive discussions with the Senior Management Team to avoid colleagues being dismissed. However, our members are rightly concerned at the potential for divisions to open up in teams around this question.
Additional key questions are: how will the employer keep the information as to who is vaccinated and who is not, and how/when will this be shared with staff and with UNISON. This is all new territory for us and not one we wanted to be in, so all questions and suggestions are welcome with the aim of doing our utmost to protect everyone from harm at work.
UNISON has now published its guidance just this week – please read here
“Employers can no longer mistreat staff who take part in industrial action, says UNISON”
“UK law had previously prevented employers from sacking staff involved in strike action or other workplace disputes, but not from disciplining or making life difficult for them, says UNISON.
But now, disciplinary action against workers who go on strike will be unlawful. This follows today’s judgment at the employment appeal tribunal (EAT) over a case taken by care worker Fiona Mercer against the Alternative Futures Group (AFG).
She had been involved in organising, and subsequently took part in, a long-running dispute over AFG’s plans to cut payment for sleep-in shifts undertaken by its care staff.”
To all local government branches in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
(Scotland for information)
UNISON’s NJC Committee, the union’s national committee for local government pay across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, met this morning to consider the Employers’ 1.5% pay offer. The Committee strongly agreed to reject the offer. In the context of our claim for a 10% pay increase, the offer of 1.5% is insulting, and shows blatant disregard for the hard work and sacrifices made by local government workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, providing essential services and keeping our communities safe and well.
UNISON is calling on the local government employers to enter urgent negotiations so that this offer can be improved. UNISON members are also deeply frustrated at the long delay in resolving term time working issues for school support staff and others, and we are seeking reassurances that this work will be prioritised.
At the same time, UNISON is clear that more funding is needed from central government to ensure that local authorities and schools can continue to provide the full range of services and pay staff properly. UNISON is calling on the National Employers and local authorities to work with us to lobby for more resources for local government.