Pay and increments at WSCC

UNISON members will recall WSCC’s Chief Executive (CEX) wrote to all staff in March 2018 to say that from April 2019 incremental progression would be dependent on performance-assessment. In August 2018 consultation on a local pay offer for HAY/SMG4/AfC managers was launched which would link pay rises and increments to performance.

UNISON advised members in the local pay group to reject the proposals.

Members followed this advice because a majority of staff rejected the CEX’s pay offer. We only know this because the CEX has told managers in a letter: there has been no transparency of how staff voted. Nor has UNISON – or individual staff – received a response to the detailed points they raised in the consultation. This includes there being no response on 2 key matters:

  1. Evidence: not a scrap of evidence has been provided to explain how linking cost of living pay awards and increments to appraisals will improve motivation or morale. This is probably because such evidence does not exist, and the changes are predicated on the ‘gut instinct’ of one or two individuals.
  2. Equalities: there has been no Equality Impact Assessment carried out, to check the proposals would not lead to or worsen discrimination at the council. This is despite the focus the CEX has put on the equalities Staff Groups over the past two years.

When responding to the consultation, the CEX confirmed the pay award for the local group would be 2% after all for 2018-19 (which had been agreed with UNISON in May), and not the 1% offered in August.

The CEX admitted in his letter to staff that there was clear opposition to linking pay and increments to appraisals. But then the same letter states that having listened to staff, the council still intends to implement a system of performance-related pay at the council!

Many members have told us this confirmed their feelings that the council is good at saying it is listening, but is actually fast-losing the ability to listen to staff and act upon their concerns.

UNISON has seen a huge growth in membership within the managers’ group. We have used this membership growth to lodge a request for voluntary recognition of UNISON for these managers’ pay awards and related-matters, to clear up any confusion on our status.

What next?

There is a clear intention to implement a pay system whereby pay and increments are linked to appraisal outcomes. This is the case for HAY/SMG4/AfC staff and there are likely to be similar ambitions for NJC staff. The CEX referred without detail to pockets of performance challenges at the council, which he presumably believes can be dealt with by withholding pay.

The council is now embarking on a plan to improve its appraisal process as this must be made fit for purpose. Senior managers have been engaged on this, and there is an intention to roll out discussions on appraisals to team meetings.

But the detailed proposals of what will happen are not yet clear. Only the principles for pay and reward for the local pay managers’ group have been confirmed, though this has been done without listening to them. Despite the communication to all staff in March 2018, it does not appear that incremental progression can be linked to appraisal for NJC members in time for April 2019.


After our request, the CEX wants to check that staff in the local pay groups want to be represented by UNISON on pay matters. This means that soon in 2019 there will be a communication to HAY/SMG4/AfC staff. We need UNISON members and staff in the local pay group to confirm they do want the council to recognise UNISON. Please watch out for this in the new year.

UNISON wants to take this opportunity to reassure ALL members that these damaging proposals are our top priority for 2019. When they are firmed up, we will return to our members for a clear steer from you.