Author Archives: Daniel Sartin

As of late on Wednesday 1 November, the Local Government Association sent the letter below to local government employers, including West Sussex County Council. The letter explains that the NJC Pay dispute for 2023-24 has now been settled by the unions. Therefore, employers have been instructed to implement the pay offer as set out in the circular, the details of which you can read below. The main element of the pay settlement is the £1,925 lump sum UNISON balloted its members on (which is a pro rata lump sum, so you receive less proportionately if you work less than 37 hours per week and/or you work Term Time Only).

This means that our NJC employers in West Sussex will pay the award – with arrears – in the December pay packet. December’s pay will come earlier than normal due to Christmas, so will be paid on Tuesday 19 December. The lump sum in arrears will be for the 8 months  from April to November 2023, which is circa £1,200 (pro rata, as explained above). December’s pay packet will also be uplifted by circa £150 (pro rata) as will pay in January, February and March and thereafter into future financial years.

UNISON will turn promptly now to negotiations for our pay rise from April 2024.

All the above figures quoted are subject to usual deductions: Tax, National Insurance and your Pension contributions.

We are pleased this matter is finally settled and thank all members for their patience and participation.

If you are on West Sussex County Council local pay, WSCC is now finalising arrangements to make the relevant award to its staff on those local pay scales (AfC, HAY, SMG etc).

If you are in receipt of Universal Credit and would like advice on the potential impact of pay in arrears, please contact the branch on 01243 777636 or

Download (PDF, 198KB)

UNISON West Sussex branch members took successful industrial action on Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd October this week in their dispute over pay in the Higher Education sector.

Photos below show the picket lines at the Bishop Otter Campus in Chichester and Bognor campus. The pickets were good natured and fun, of course, and lots of positive conversations were had with academic staff who have their own separate pay dispute.

The NEC has authorised strike pay of £70 per day to support this dispute, in recognition of the impact losing pay would have on members. Spirits are high and we hope for a positive resolution to this dispute.


Congratulations to campaigners in Chichester for a successful demo held last week in defence of refugees and asylum seekers (see pictures above and below).

Organising the demonstration is ‘Stand Up To Racism’, which UNISON is affiliated to both nationally and at the West Sussex branch level.

Their demo was organised as a counter-demonstration to a planned anti-refugee demonstration. Disgarcefully, fascist elements are seeking to capitalise on the government’s handling of immigration issues and accompanying media narrative, and this is done at the expense of very vulnerable people. Here is a report on what happened in Knowsley earlier this year.

Stand Up to Racism and UNISON think It is essential to have a show of solidarity to refugees and not to concede the ground to those elements who would seek to isolate and scapegoat them, bring disorder and generally make their lives intolerable.

Campaigners return to the street this Saturday 7th October, meeting at 12 noon at the Sainsbury’s car park. Join them if you can. Download flyer.

There is still time to vote in the regional South East election to UNISON’s National Labour Link Committee. This body oversees and determines the union’s relationship with the Labour Party and so will assume significant importance in its next term if there is a Labour government in power. It is vital that UNISON’s policies and the concerns of our members form a large part of Labour’s programme in power. About 1,000 of the branch’s 5,800 members are in the Labour Link political fund and so entitled to vote in this election.

The UNISON West Sussex branch committee has voted to back Steve Milford:

Steve Milford from the Isle of Wight branch has campaigned tirelessly throughout the region to get Labour candidates elected, UNISON policy into Labour, and members’ voices heard. Steve believes in progressive policies on social housing, the environment, local buses, NHS waiting times and ending Tory austerity and the cost-of-living crisis. Only Labour pursuing positive action on public ownership, working hand in hand with public sector unions like UNISON will deliver the radical change we need!

To vote, either return the voting paper which was sent to your home address by post a fortnight or so ago, or use the online vote you were emailed on 18 September 2023, in an email sent by Civica Election Services <> with the subject line: UNISON National Labour Link Committee Elections 2023-2025

The branch can now report the results of its industrial action ballot on the NJC pay offer for 2023-24.

The headlines:

  • In our largest employer (the largest by far), West Sussex County Council, members voted for strike action with a 76% YES vote. However, the turnout of members who voted was 34%, less than the government’s mandatory participation rate of 50% for a strike ballot to be lawful;
  • The branch balloted members in 58 separate employers in West Sussex (this is because some schools are treated legally as separate employers, as are all academy schools);
  • We got over the government’s 50% participation thresholds in 18 employers, and were under the 50% threshold in 40;
  • However, of these 18 employers the largest was a small academy chain with 67 members. Most of the rest were individual schools with less than 20 members;
  • None of the national academy chains in West Sussex achieved over 50% participation in the ballot.

The results will be disappointing for many members who were determined we should receive a pay rise this year and not another pay cut. The results show the challenges UNISON still faces engaging our members on crucial issues like pay.  The average turnout across all employers nationally was 31%.

Only 2 larger councils in England and Wales got over the 50% line: Lambeth in Greater London and Knowsley in the North West. Some smaller councils did – including Chichester and Horsham in the South East – but with far fewer numbers of members.


We are however making progress. The NJC ballot in 2021 saw a national turnout of 14%. This has now more than doubled to 31%.

UNISON’s national committee which looks at NJC pay has met and looked at the prospect of taking successful industrial action based on these ballot results. The NJC Committee agreed to await the ballot results from our sister union Unite, whose ballot closes at the end of July, before confirming publicly our agreed next steps.

Efforts made

The branch made a huge effort to engage with members before and during the ballot period:

  • Phone banking (i.e. speaking to or leaving messages for) 3,000 members;
  • Sending out regular news by email;
  • Providing detailed, locally-tailored information on the pay offer;
  • Holding member meetings, both physically and online;
  • Making a series of video updates;
  • Giving an online presentation of the NJC offer and posting the video online.

Thanks go to everyone who worked on this ballot delivering the above activity (reps, members, branch officers and branch-employed staff), and thanks go to all branch members who took part in the vote.

We now look to build on this level of activity and engagement for the pay claim for 2024-25 which will be submitted later in 2023.

UNISON members are in some of the pension schemes and funds affected by recent hacking attacks on the outsourcing firm Capita. These attacks have led to major breach of security resulting in personal data being obtained by the hackers.

We understand currently that this impacts on branch members who have previously had or have Capita private pensions. Our current understanding is that no breach of the West Sussex LGPS details has been made, relating to when Capita provided the administration for the service.

UNISON is working hard at a national level to protect members’ interests. The following briefing has been written for members.

Capita Data Breach - Pensions Unit Briefing

Branch Secretary Dan Sartin has made a further NJC council and school worker pay video.

Dan talks through the timetable, the helpline, explains the ‘disaggregated’ nature of the ballot, and more. Look out for your ballot, arriving from 23rd May, in an envelope that looks like the video still below.




Members will recollect that the UNISON West Sussex branch entered negotiations with the Council for a temporary uplift to NJC mileage rates, due to very high petrol prices in 2022. This led to a temporary increase in the rate from 46.9 pence to 58.7 pence for 3 months from July to September 2022, which was then further extended upon review. The higher rate of 58.7 pence is still in force, but the council has signalled its intention to UNISON to reduce the rate due to a reduction in petrol forecourt prices.

UNISON surveyed our West Sussex members on the impact there would be on them if the council did reduce the mileage rate, and we shared the results with the executive leadership team at the council. Following further discussions, the council has now decided to reduce the 58.7 pence mileage rate to an interim rate of 52.2 pence with effect from 1 July 2023 before potentially reducing to 46.9 pence from 1 January 2024. The final reduction from 52.2 pence to 46.9 pence will be subject to an assessment in November 2023 that the circumstances remain right to reduce the mileage rate further.

UNISON is obviously not happy with this decision, but we do recognise the goodwill of the council in increasing the rate as it did in July 2022 in response to our request, that the uplifted rate was always intended by the council to be temporary, and that the council is staging a phasing out of the higher rate over several months with an interim rate of 52.2 pence to mitigate the impact. We also note that South East petrol prices in July 2022 were £189.3 per litre, and that the April 2023 average South East price is £148.1 per litre (AA figures).

Nevertheless, we hold concerns that this reduction will impact negatively on morale and staff retention, particularly when other local authorities such as Brighton & Hove have higher mileage rates. The branch would like to hear from members about your views on the reduction. Should the branch prepare a local collective claim on the mileage rate for a permanent increase, for example? As with the decision by the branch to push for the temporary increase, we await our members’ views to inform the next steps for the branch in regard to West Sussex mileage rates.