Tuesday, 17 April 2018

LOCAL GOVERNMENT PAY UPDATE


You will be aware that UNISON, along with the other trade unions representing members in Local Government, submitted a joint pay claim to your employer on the 12th January 2018. This claim was constructed following consultation with all members working in Local Government. This briefing is to bring you up to date with what has happened since then and what our next steps are in trying to secure you a decent pay rise.
The Offer
Whilst our claim was submitted early, in the hope that the employer would get round the table quickly to ensure a negotiated settlement in time for the pay implementation date of the 1st April, the employer did not deal with our claim until much later - they wait until they are in receipt of all of the pay claims for all of the different Local Government bargaining groups. There are four bargaining groups in Local Government - yourselves as local government employees, Teachers, Craft Workers and Chief Officials.
We finally received a response from the employer on Monday 26th March, less than 48 hours before we were due to meet them. The key points of the offer are:
• The policy and aspiration to achieve parity of pay awards across the bargaining groups, in as far as it is within COSLA's control, has been re-affirmed by COSLA Leaders and a uniform pay offer is being made to the entire workforce, across all four of the local government bargaining groups;
• The pay offer is for one year and covers the period 1 April, 2018 to 31 March, 2019. The award will be back dated to the 1 April, 2018 application date;
• The offer has been aligned, for the most part, to be consistent with public sector pay policy in Scotland and is based on a 37 hour working week viz:-
- A 3% pay increase will apply to all employees earning up to £36,500.
- A 2% pay increase will apply to all employees earning £36,501-£80,000
- A flat rate increase of £1,600 to employees earning more than £80,000.
• The pay offer deviates marginally from public sector pay policy in relation to the Living Wage. It is proposed to increase the 'Scottish Local Government Living Wage' from its present level of £8.51 per hour to £8.77 per hour, thereby providing a full 3% increase.
• The offer provides for a 3% increase on all allowances that are normally agreed through the Scottish Joint Council (SJC), with the exception of the First Aid Allowance, which is under separate discussion between the Employers and Trade Unions Sides of the SJC.
• The employer has stated that pay offer is being made against a backdrop of a challenging settlement for local government and continued cost pressures for councils. They state that no additional monies have been made available in the 2018/19 local government settlement for this pay award, consequently, COSLA Leaders have stated that the offer now put to the various trade unions across the four bargaining groups is the best and final offer which can be made for this year.
Whilst the employer termed this is a best and final offer we discovered that they had, at the same time as sending this to us, also written to the Scottish Government pressing for parity across the bargaining groups (i.e. ensuring that whatever increase you get is the same as that achieved for Teachers or Craft workers) and asking that if the Scottish Government was so minded to give any one group of workers a higher increase that this that they provide the necessary funding to ensure that this extends to all Local Government bargaining groups.
Our Response
Your UNISON representatives met with the other trade unions' representatives prior to meeting with the employer. All of the SJC Trade Unions agreed that we should 'note' the employers offer, their representations to the Scottish Government and that we should make our own representations to the Scottish Government in pursuit of our full claim. This position was put to the employer verbally and in writing on the 28th March 2018 and we wrote jointly to Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, pressing the issue of parity and calling for additional funding for COSLA to deliver an increase which addressed both the cost of living and an element of restoration .
The objective in doing both of these things was two-fold - to call on the Scottish Government to provide COSLA with additional funding to meet our claim and to keep the employer at the negotiating table.
As the trade union representing by far and away the largest number of workers in Local Government we are conscious of our responsibility to explore all available avenues open to us before coming to you with a recommendation to accept or reject the offer before us. We know that taking industrial action is not an easy option - we would only ever ask you to do this if we thought there was no possible alternative.
It is unfortunate that the GMB have chosen to ballot on a recommendation to reject, with a view to taking industrial action, before those avenues are exhausted, however that is a decision for them. As far as your UNISON representatives are concerned we will always be guided by what we believe is in the best interests of our members - there is a window of opportunity here that we believe we should explore before taking a view on whether we have an offer we could recommend to you in a ballot. That may take a couple of weeks and that window of opportunity may prove fruitful, or it may not, but we believe we have a responsibility to explore it before making a recommendation to you.
Next Steps
The next meeting with the employer is on the 4th May 2018 and we would hope to have had a response from the Scottish government by then. As soon as we have that we will be in a better position to know if there is any more money available to improve the offer that is currently before us and we will get in touch then with more information for you.
In the meantime we will continue to work with our trade union colleagues on a co-ordinated approach to lobbying the Scottish Government and your employer in pursuit of our full claim.

Pay Survey
Special thanks to all 9,263 members who participated in the Pay claim survey - you have given us some very useful data on what you think about pay and what action you are prepared to take in support of our claim that we can use in our deliberations about how we handle the current negotiations. In the coming days each UNISON branch will receive a breakdown of the survey responses for their branch and will start to build on that information to target their campaign strategies going forward.

Monday, 2 April 2018

PAY UPDATE


We received an update on pay late last week from our colleagues at UNISON Scotland.

The Scottish Joint Council Steering Group met with COSLA last Wednesday and they have tabled an offer but as far as the trade unions are concerned discussions are ongoing.  Both UNISON Scotland and COSLA have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance pressing him for more money for local government and emphasising the need for parity of treatment across the local authority bargaining groups - local authorities, teachers, craft and chief officials.  UNISON has sought further negotiations in pursuit of our full claim.

We’ll get a further update once the outcome of those representations is known and the Branch Secretary will get a full update at the Local Government conference on 13 April which he’ll share with everyone afterwards.

Monday, 19 March 2018

WILLIE BLACK

I write on hearing the sad news that our former Steward Willie Black passed away yesterday, Sunday 18 March. Willie had been unwell for some time and although he returned as a Steward with us for a spell during 2017, had to stand down given his poor health. Willie had been a member of UNISON since 1996 and will be missed by his colleagues at the Branch and across the Council.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

SCHOOL OFFICE REVIEW: EMAIL REGARDING IPAY

A number of our members working in primary school offices have been in touch with significant concerns following the receipt of an email from the Review Project Officer late last week covering online payments and cash handling.
We have requested a meeting as soon as possible next week with the manager leading the School Office Review to bring these concerns to his attention so that they are resolved and to seek clarification on the relevance of the staffing formula in light of the contents of the email.
We will keep you informed of developments in the coming days via Facebook or by email to individual members.

ADMIN & CLERICAL REVIEW UPDATE

The Branch Secretary attended the Business Support Review Board meeting last week and was hoping to have some firm details to share with you all about the outcome of the Admin and Clerical Review, particularly as the previous meeting in February had been cancelled. However, the date for the outcome of the review to be shared with us all has now been pushed into mid April.
It goes without saying that these are worrying times with regard to the future and we know from conversations with some of you that in many cases personal plans are on hold until the outcome of the Review is known. You are assured that UNISON Angus have left the Review Board under no illusion that our members are continuing to patiently wait for news but that the length of time being taken is adding to people’s concerns. Your wellbeing and welfare is paramount at times like this and we want a swift resolution to the Review. We do though of course want the Review outcome to be free from errors and a necessity to re-visit it in the days after the outcome is shared with us all.
We have been given assurances by the Review Board that UNISON Angus will be fully briefed on the outcome of the Review so that we can represent you, our members, with all the information needed in the coming weeks.
If you have any questions, queries or concerns about the Review, please do not hesitate to contact the Branch Office.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

COMMON SENSE PREVAILS: VICTORY FOR OUR FAMILY NURTURE SUPPORT WORKERS!


After months of fruitless negotiations and discussions with the Council, UNISON Angus members employed as Family Nurture Support Worker members (previously known as Early Years Workers) have today secured a significant victory in their challenge to the grading of their new posts.
Our members were incorrectly graded during the Job Evaluation process forcing their pay grade down from LG8 to LG7. We believed the incorrect evaluation was down to a simple clerical error that just needed to be rectified. But did this not drag on...... In the intervening months, despite a series of knockbacks from the employer, our members stood their ground showing fantastic strength of character and commitment during some very challenging times for them. Today this well and truly paid off with the news that the Council has 're-assessed' the original evaluation and members employed as Family Nurture Support Workers are indeed graded LG8, with pay backdated to December.
I'm sure you'll join me in congratulating them in standing firm these past months and for their victory today. And to reflect on the simple fact that being a member of a union and in particular UNISON Angus brings us together to collectively challenge the employer when things go wrong and campaign together, and in numbers, for fair and just outcomes when our pay, terms and conditions are being ground down . On our own and without representation, changes would just get imposed. There is no better advert today for being in UNISON than this.
In conclusion, I cannot tell you how extremely proud we all are of our Family Nurture Support Worker members and of our Steward Arthur Grant for his unwavering guidance and support, though I think you might have guessed that by now!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

AGM UPDATE!

AGM UPDATE

Tonight's Annual General Meeting will go ahead as arranged. However we'd ask that you only attempt the journey if you're confident of getting to and from the venue safely.
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