NJC pay ballot – why you should vote to REJECT the offer

UNISON is asking all its members to reject the employers’ two-year pay offer of 1% each year for the next two financial years (with some more complex arrangements for the very low paid, i.e. those below spinal column point 18).

UNISON’s NJC Committee is recommending you REJECT the offer: it’s far less than you need or deserve and less than the LGA can afford. BUT the committee believes that only an imaginative programme of industrial action – including one or more of: all out strike, selective action and action short of strike action (e.g. work to rule) – could achieve an improved offer.

Why should you reject the offer? Here are eight good reasons:

  1. It’s unfair: 60% of NJC employees on scale point 18 and above will only get 1% on 1 April 2016 and 2017.
  2. The offer is for 2 years. RPI inflation currently stands at 1% but it is predicted to rise to as much as 3% in 2017 and 3.3% in 2018. So the value of your pay in real terms will decline even further.
  3. Members in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) will start paying 1.4% extra national insurance contributions from 1 April 2016 when ‘contracting out’ ends due to changes by central Government, reducing the pay offer further.
  4. The higher increases on low SCPs are to make sure employers comply with the statutory “national living wage” of £7.20 per hour starting on 1 April 2016 – so if you’re paid below this, employers have to pay you this anyway! If they didn’t pay this, the employers would be breaking the law.
  5. Higher increases from SCP 6 – 17 are also to ensure that employers comply with the statutory “national living wage” law and keep pace with its predicted rate in 2020 of approximately £9.35 per hour.
  6. In any case, almost ⅔ of councils already pay the REAL Living Wage of £8.25 per hour (£9.40 in London) so they would not face the cost of the ‘national living wage’ anyway. So the employers’ estimate of the cost of our claim is over-rated – they’re saving themselves money by not paying you more.
  7. More than half of the cost of our original claim for the REAL Living Wage for the lowest paid and £1 an hour for everyone above that rate would be met from resulting higher tax and national insurance income and reduced benefit costs.
  8. Many employers are cutting sick pay, annual leave and other NJC conditions at a local level and see this as the only solution to dealing with the cuts. This means changes to working patterns and cuts to vital allowances that our members rely on. Employers have refused to meet our claim for future protection of these conditions. But they can’t be cut any further!

Employers would not meet our claim for the retention and protection of ‘Green Book Part 2’ terms and conditions. This has certain key provisions on areas such as sick pay, annual leave and maternity rights which are meant to set a basic standard across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These are not for local negotiation. However, some authorities are still looking at reducing them locally, contrary to the Green Book.

What next?

All UNISON branches are consulting members on the pay offer using either the standard ballot form or electronic voting.

GMB and Unite are consulting their members. Unite are rejecting the offer and the GMB are consulting without a recommendation. UNISON NJC committee meets on 23 February to consider responses. It’s vital as many members as possible take part so that we have an accurate picture of our members’ views.

West Sussex Branch plans to send out its consultative ballot on Wednesday 3 February. Please make every effort to respond. Look out for emails coming your way next week.