But first, please read our briefing on pay and the options before you, below.
The UNISON NJC Committee met on 8 March 2022 to consider the contents of the NJC pay claim for 2022-23, as well as the process for consulting members.
The 2021 pay settlement
For NJC 2021, we submitted a pay claim of 10%. The Employers initially offered 1.5%, and after negotiations they returned with a final offer of 1.75% (or 2.75% for the very lowest pay point). This was ultimately accepted by UNISON after members rejected the offer but did not take part in the industrial action ballot in sufficient numbers to make further action possible.
Local government funding
There is a funding crisis in local government, with local authorities facing a combined funding gap of several billion pounds.
However, throughout the union we are campaigning hard for more funding from the Westminster Conservative Government for councils, and pay must be considered in this context. The Westminster Government could definitely afford to fund a decent pay increase for local government workers if enough pressure is applied. We know that far more can be done to make money available – for example some multinational companies avoid paying huge amounts of tax, money that could be used for local government pay.
The money is there if we can get the Government to fund councils and council workers properly.
In previous years we have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling on him to fully fund local government pay increases and we will continue to put pressure on the Treasury during the forthcoming pay round.
Low pay in local government
Low pay continues to be a concern in local government. The bottom spinal column point is now £9.50 outside London. This is below the Real Living Wage of £9.90. The government has now set a new target for the National Living Wage of two-thirds of average earnings by 2024, with the age eligibility for the highest tier dropping to 23 in 2021 and then to 21 by 2024 (thereby eliminating a separate rate for 21-24-year-olds). To achieve this, we calculate that local government pay at the bottom end needs to rise by at least 4.1% on the bottom pay point in the next 3 pay awards, just to keep up with the legal minimum wage.
The NJC Committee agreed that our core objective must continue to focus on the restoration of decent pay levels for all members and a bold claim is needed.
The Committee also wanted to keep the claim simple and agreed not to recommend the inclusion of any NJC conditions in this pay claim. It is hoped that a simple pay claim will make it easier to engage members in a strong, vocal pay campaign.
The Committee have formulated two options for the ‘headline’ claim for the 2022 pay claim. Rather than simply propose one option, the Committee is keen to get a clear picture of members’ views and preferences. Branches are asked to consult members on the following two options:
- OPTION A: RPI plus 2%
RPI is currently at 7.8%. Members are facing huge cost of living increases. For example, with the energy price cap increasing, the average energy bill is expected to rise by over £700 a year. Rental prices are up by 8.3%, and fuel by 27.4%.
- OPTION B: A flat rate of £2000 on each pay point
This would help to address low pay at the bottom end whilst giving all members a significant increase. To give some examples of the percentage increase members would get if this were implemented: for pay points 1-3 it would represent an 11% increase. Pay points 15-21 would get an 8% increase, and 33-40 a 5% increase.
Consultation process and timetable
It is very important that the UNISON NJC Committee gets a view from West Sussex members and that you are engaged at this stage in the pay claim.
The UNISON NJC Committee will meet again in mid-April 2022 to consider the results of the branch consultation and to agree UNISON’s proposals for the 2022 pay claim. The intention is for the Trade Union Side to agree a claim for submission to the Local Government Association in May.
Tell us what you think!
If you are eligible to take part in NJC pay ballots (e.g. all staff at WSCC, maintained schools, academies, etc) please use the link below to take part in the branch consultation by 12noon on Tuesday 5 April 2022.
We want to know which option you prefer for our claim: A or B (RPI plus 2% or flat rate of £2000).
We have also added a free text box so you can give us wider feedback on any aspect of our pay claim.