NJC pay claim 2021/22: branch consultation

The UNISON NJC Committee met on 5 October 2020 to consider the contents of the NJC pay claim for 2021/22, as well as the process for consulting members.

The 2020 pay settlement

For the NJC 2020 award, we submitted a pay claim of 10%. The Employers initially offered 2%, and after negotiations they returned with a final offer of 2.75%. This was ultimately accepted by members.

The impact of Covid-19

Local government workers have shown how indispensable they are during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, and the public are more aware than before of how vital our members are. They deserve fair reward for their work.

Local government funding

There is a funding crisis in local government. UNISON and others estimate that in the current financial year alone, councils face a funding gap of £10 billion.

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 multi-national 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.

Economic indicators

The Committee considered a range of economic indicators, including comparisons with pay settlements elsewhere in the public sector, public vs. private sector comparisons, inflation figures and forecasts, and average earnings growth figures. This data is attached to this circular as an appendix.

Low pay and equality in local government

Low pay continues to be a concern in local government. The bottom spinal column point is now £9.25. This is slightly below the Foundation Living Wage. The Government’s own aim is to raise the National Living Wage to two-thirds of median earnings by April 2024. To achieve this, we calculate that local government pay at the bottom end needs to rise by 3.25% each year until then.

UNISON has existing Conference policy calling for a £10 an hour minimum wage.

At the same time, since 2018 we have had a new, equality-proofed NJC pay spine, and the Committee are keen not to ‘unpick’ it by altering the differentials between spinal column points.

The proposals

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.

The Committee have formulated three options for the ‘headline’ claim for the 2021 pay claim.

  • Option A: 5% or a £10 an hour pay rate, whichever is greater

If NJC pay at the bottom is to reach two-thirds median earnings, by 2024, it needs to rise by 3.25%. Option A takes that figure and adds the current RPI inflation rate of 1.6%. It is then rounded up from 4.85% to 5%. This option also demands a £10 an hour fallback position for those on spinal column points 1 and 2.

  • Option B: 8% or a £10 an hour pay rate, whichever is greater

For those on spinal column point 1, an increase of around 8% is needed to reach a £10 an hour pay rate. Option B demands 8% for everyone, but again with a fallback position of a £10 an hour pay rate, if that would be greater.

  • Option C: 10%

Option C demands a 10% pay increase for everyone, a repeat of the 2020 headline.

Tell us what you think!

If you receive NJC pay and are eligible to take part in NJC pay ballots (e.g. staff at WSCC, maintained schools, academies, etc) please use the link below to take part in the branch consultation by Wednesday 11th November.

We want to know which option you prefer for our claim: A, B or C (5, 8 or 10%)

Take part in NJC Pay 2021/22 branch consultation