Local pay: recognition ballot

Members within certain local pay groups at West Sussex County Council will recall just how difficult the pay consultation was for the 2018-19 pay award. The local pay groups are:

  • HAY Grades A-E (HAY);
  • Senior Management Grade 4 (SMG4); and
  • Agenda for Change (AfC).

In many staff’s view, and UNISON’s, the pay consultation last year was very poorly handled, and what was proposed by the Chief Executive was not accepted by a majority of staff. This led to a new and improved offer of 2% being made. An attempt to derecognise UNISON was revoked.

Instead, at the conclusion of the consultation the council committed to talk to staff in local pay groups about their posts being covered by a trade union recognition agreement for the annual pay award.

UNISON is the only recognised trade union for staff in the county council’s local pay groups. However, UNISON is not involved in negotiating the annual pay award. For many years, WSCC has had a commitment instead to consult with UNISON on the annual pay award. Negotiation commits both parties to reach agreement, whereas consultation is a commitment to seek views only.

If staff agree, this change of approach would allow UNISON to negotiate the annual pay award on behalf of its members. This would be done through a process of collective bargaining. UNISON would involve its members in that process. But the pay award, when finalised, would apply to all staff regardless of whether they were members of UNISON.

It has been agreed therefore that UNISON will shortly be writing to affected staff, jointly with the Chief Executive, to commence a survey to test views on this proposal.

All staff will receive an electronic ballot unique to them within the next week or two. UNISON is administering this survey via our own Smart Survey online package.

UNISON is strongly recommending the following to our members:

  • Vote YES in the online ballot
  • Encourage your colleagues to do the same, whether they are members or not
  • Encourage non-members to join UNISON – the more members we have, the stronger our voice in pay negotiations!

If we achieve a YES result, UNISON will then be able to start the process for the 2019-20 local pay award by testing members’ opinion on what the claim for 2019-20 should be.