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Ten reasons why you should reject the offer
(See offer explained below)
1. The small (0.5%) increase can be funded already by the wages YOU lost on strike days.
2. There is NO evidence of new monies as claimed by the employers.
3. The offer remains BELOW increases elsewhere (bus drivers to get 4.1% for this year alone!)
4. You are being asked to accept a pay award for 2001/2002 WITHOUT knowing what the rate of inflation or wage trends will be.
5. The offer does NOTHING to help the low paid.
6. Many low paid members will LOSE vital welfare benefits and will fall into the poverty trap
7. There is NO minimum wage element.
8. UNISON policy is NOT to enter two year deals - there is no point anyway because there is no evidence of money from 2001/2002 being made available.
9. The offer does NOT compensate you for less-than-inflation pay awards in six out of the last seven years.
10. The revised offer for this year is ONLY half a per cent more than the offer you have already rejected.
The employers can afford more. Your national and branch negotiators do not consider the revised offer to be acceptable and recommend that you vote to reject it.
The offer explained (we hope)
The offer means that members will receive 3.015% more from April 2000 to March 2001 than they did in the same period in 1999/2000. That is just over half a per cent more than the first 2.5% offer.
The calculation problems come in the staging of the offer. We'll try to make this as clear as possible but it ain't easy.
- 2% on CURRENT salary payable from 1 April 2000
- Plus 1% on CURRENT salary (ie the salary at 31 March 2000) from 1 October 2000
- 3% from 1 February 2001 on the salary at 1 October 2000
- No further increase before April 2002.
Take an example on a salary of £12,000 (figures rounded).....
31 March 2000 £12,000 1 April 2000: 12,000+2% = £12,240 1 October 2000: 1 % of 12,000 (ie120) + 12.240 = £12,360 1 February 2001: 12,360 + 3% = £12,730.8 1 April 2002 Next Pay settlement
But the person would only actually be paid......
01/04/2000 - 31/09/2000 = 6,120
01/10/2000 - 31/01/2001 = 4,120
01/02/2000 - 01/04/2001 = 2,121.80
Total for year = 12,360.80, ie an increase of 3.015% for the year 2000
The figure of 3.09% for 2001/2002 is arrived at by comparing the actual salary received from April 2000 - March 2001 (£12,360.8) with the £12,730.8 the person would be on at 1 April 2001.
Our argument is that no money from McConnell's extra funding for 2001 has actually been pulled in. The councils have already saved between 0.55% and 0.75% of the annual paybill due to the two strike days . On top of this they have gained significant interest payments on the 2.5% they haven't paid out since 1 April. Even if you do not add the interest windfall, the employers can afford between 3.05% and 3.25% from this year's funding alone. So therefore, no new monies are contained in an
offer of 3.015% for the first 12 months.
Consultation: The meeting on 2 October was the first time the 32 branches had seen the offer. Half wanted to reject outright because it was not a significant offer and just over half (delegate votes were 31-30) felt members had a right to be consulted on it, albeit with a recommendation to reject. The offer itself came with a condition that action would be suspended or the offer would be withdrawn.
In about two weeks, the 32 branches will meet again to pool the results of consultations in branches and decide on the way forward.
TALKS: An update on pay talks will be put to UNISON Scottish Local Government Forum (the 32 council branches) on Monday 2 October. As yet no formal offer has been made but negotiations (described as 'constructive') are under way. As soon as an offer is made, or the Forum makes a statement, it will be reported here.
STRIKE DAY 20 SEPTEMBER: 5,000 attended March and Rally in Edinburgh and over 1,000 in Aberdeen as 70,000 were on strike across Scotland. Bill Spiers STUC general secretary pledged support and argued for fair pay for the people who deliver public services. UNISON Scottish Secretary Matt Smith demanded an offer from CoSLA before things escalated. Leading negotiator Douglas Black warned that if there was no progress from the employers, selective action would start with another SCOTLAND WIDE DAY OF ACTION ON 11 OCTOBER.
Pay 2000 News
Monday 17 July Dispatch of Ballot Papers commences
Monday 14 August Ballot closes at 12 noon
A ballot helpline will be operated by UNISONDirect. People who do not receive a voting paper can phone
0800 5 97 97 50,
from 06.00 - 24.00 (Monday - Friday) and 09.00 - 16.00 (Saturday)
The Scotland wide consultation on pay leading to the ballot came up with these results:
Do you accept the Employers' offer of an increase of 2.5% on all spinal column and pay points with effect from 1 April 2000?
Voting to accept offer 36%
Voting to reject offer 64%
Scottish Local Government Staff
Trade Union Side Claim
CLOSING THE GAP
£500 or 5%
£5 PER HOUR MINIMUM WAGE
TRADE UNION CLAIM
This year's claim for staff in Scottish local government is lodged at a time of major change and upheaval for councils and our members who work for them. Best Value and the outcome of the McIntosh review will place significant challenges before employees and require them to find new ways of working to meet public demand in many services. High levels of morale and commitment will be required if local government's reforms are to be achieved and then maintained.
Low pay and earnings among Scottish local government staff trail those in the private sector and other public services, including local government staff in England and Wales, and do not provide an auspicious backdrop to these new challenges. Yet this is the reality which faces many of our members in local government. The implications for recruitment and retention of skilled and dedicated staff at a time when Best Value will require continuous improvement in service provision are clear. And the Government's emphasis on developing 'cross cutting' initiatives with other public bodies will highlight the relative shortfall in local government pay.
The trade unions are therefore submitting a claim for 2000-2001 which seeks to redress the decline in Scottish local government pay and maintain living standards. We believe it to be straight forward and realistic.
We are seeking:
- An increase of £500 or 5% on all pay points whichever is greater.
- A minimum rate of £5 an hour.
The increases are aimed at addressing the problem of a large number of low paid employees in local government. And are required to help restore and maintain living standards of employees who have seen their pay eroded considerably in comparison with those in the private sector and other areas of the public sector.
The Trade Union Side is aware that the Scottish Executive is making additional resources available to Scottish local government in 2000/01 and that Government Supported Expenditure (GSE) is up 3.6%, Aggregated External Finance (AEF) is up 2.9% and Grant Aided Expenditure (GAE) is up 3.5%. After years of real cuts in local government expenditure we believe our claim for 2000/01 is affordable.
The claim is both modest and fair. The following pages expand on the main points and give justification for them. It is hoped that the employers' side will give our claim full consideration and respond favourably.
THE PAY GAPS
The evidence from the 1999 New Earnings Survey, the first major independent survey of pay since single status, points to three major gaps.
The first gap is between pay of local government staff in Scotland and those in England and Wales. The table below shows that the average full time Scottish male worker is paid £17.50 per week less, compared to his colleague in England and Wales, and that the average full time Scottish woman worker is paid £16.00 per week less than her colleagues. This differential is unjustifiable.
NATIONAL AGREEMENTS IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR
Average gross weekly earnings. Those whose pay was not affected by absence.
|Full time males on adult rates|
|Local Authorities Services||£|
|England and Wales Local authority single status national agreement||382.5|
|Scotland Local authority single status agreement||365.0|
|Full time females on adult rates|
|Local Authorities Services|
|England and Wales Local authority single status national agreement||303.7|
|Scotland Local authority single status agreement||287.7|
|April 1999 Source: New Earnings Survey|
The second gap concerns the pay of Scottish local government staff compared with staff in the Scottish economy. The table below shows pay for full time adult men and women in the UK. For men employed in Scottish local government there is a pay gap of £31.00 per week compared with the average and for women in Scottish local government there is a pay gap of £10.00 per week, smaller but still not acceptable.
| FULL TIME FEMALES ON ADULT RATES
Whose pay was not affected by absence
|Average Gross Weekly Pay TOTAL||(£)|
|England & Wales||329.2|
| FULL TIME MALES ON ADULT RATES
Whose pay was not affected by absence
|Average Gross Weekly Pay TOTAL||(£)|
|England & Wales||445.1|
|April 1999 Source: New Earnings Survey|
The third pay gap the Trade Union Side would highlight is the continuing pay differential between men and women employed in local government. For full time staff men on average earn £365 per week compared with £287.7 for women a pay gap of £77.30 per week. It is for this reason our claim is geared towards benefiting low paid women workers.
Local government pay has been hit hard by five years of successive public spending restraints. This has meant that local government workers have ended up earning significantly below other public sector workers.
The following table illustrates this dramatically:
|Average gross weekly earnings|
|Public Sector||Private Sector||Local Government||Ave. Earnings|
|Source: New Earnings Survey; Labour Market Trends|
Between 1994 and 1999 private sector pay increased by 17.3%. Public sector pay rose by 19.2% in that period, overtaking the private sector in 1999 largely due to substantial increases awarded by Pay Review Bodies. However in local government the increase of 16.2% has been lower than both the private sector and the public sector as a whole. This increase is below both the growth in average earnings over the same period, which rose by 23.5% and even below the Retail Price Index which went up by 17.8%. Effectively this has led to a fall in living standards for Scottish local government employees.
It is not only overall earnings that have declined in relation to both inflation and earnings elsewhere. Over the same period, local government pay settlements have also fallen below both these indicators. This means that the local government pay points have declined in value since 1993. In 1993, 95, 97 and 98, local government pay increases were below the rate of inflation at the time the award was agreed.
In 1999 the Local Government settlement was 3.3%, while inflation stood at 1.6%. It was one of the rare occasions where Local Government had settled above the rate of inflation in recent years.
On the other hand, average earnings stood at 4.6% in April 1999. Earnings growth has not fallen below 4.3% in 1999, and the average for the year (to September) has been 4.6%. Even more significantly, median earnings for part-time workers rose by 6% over the last year, leaving the pay of the lowest paid local government workers part-time women lagging far behind their counterparts in other sectors of the economy.
For some occupational groups in the private sector, such as finance workers and computing staff, the average increases in the past year have been even higher - almost 10%. In addition, many private sector employees have access to bonuses and other reward schemes which are not available to their local government counterparts.
|Comparative 1999 pay settlements|
|Public sector||Private sector|
|Scottish Local government||3.3%||Retail:|
|DTI Hydrographic Agency||7.2%||Finance:|
|Central Office of Information||10.0%||Britannia Building Society||3.71%|
|Customs and Excise||4.0%||Motor Vehicle R&R||9.76%|
|PAMs||4.7%||Scottish and Newcastle(bar)||4.65% 7.50%|
|New Universities APT&C||3.5%|
|New Universities Manual||3.8%|
|Source: Labour Research Department|
There is also evidence that in some local labour markets, groups of manual workers are proving hard to recruit on local government pay rates. Development of information technology and related service sectors will increasingly attract employees away from local government. This will apply to manual workers as well as those in white-collar jobs. The employment histories of many women in manual jobs demonstrates earlier employment in administrative and clerical sectors, to which they will be tempted to return where local jobs offer pay and conditions in excess of those in local government and where the emotional demands are not so strident.
The proposed increase of 5% will not be sufficient to restore parity with comparators in both the private sector and public sectors. However, it will at least go some way towards restoring living standards.
THE LIVING WAGE
Scottish Local government employees deserve to be paid a 'living wage'. At an absolute minimum, this means that workers should be able to afford the necessities of life for themselves and their families, without having to depend on government benefits.
Recent research by the Family Budget Unit has carefully costed the minimum income needed by a family.
Low Cost but Acceptable A minimum income standard for the UK: Families with young children, published, reveals that families dependent on low pay or benefits are falling far short of the 'Low Cost But Acceptable' level, defined as the threshold below which good health, social integration and satisfactory levels of child development are at risk.
The report concludes that hourly earnings of between £5.40 and £6.96 are needed to reach Low Cost but Acceptable levels.
The eradication of poverty pay within the Scottish local government workforce would bring long term benefits for local government and local communities. The local council is the largest employer in many areas. The negative impact of inadequate income among its employees on wider policy objectives is therefore immediate and obvious.
High levels of ill-health, social disruption and poor educational performance all impact directly on the cost of local government services, and local government's ability to raise standards. Moreover, poverty among council workers conflicts head-on with other aims and corporate objectives in many local authorities, such as economic development, job creation, anti-poverty initiatives and regeneration.
The establishment of a £5 minimum is consistent with the government's aim of encouraging those currently not in work to move into employment. The government has made clear that it sees the primary and preferred route out of poverty as through work, and not through increased levels of social benefits. For that to happen, work must pay well enough to lift people out of poverty, without the need for additional assistance from the state.
The Working Family Tax Credit has established a minimum requirement for family income of £200 a week. A full-time worker on the current local government minimum rate would fall well over £30 a week short of this threshold. Pay in local government should, at the very least, meet the standard set by the government for minimum family income.
In this context a minimum rate for local government workers of £5 an hour appears moderate. It would, nonetheless go some way towards allowing local government employees to achieve a living wage through their employment, and without dependence on state benefit
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF LOW PAID STAFF
Scottish local authorities are facing growing competition for staff from a wide range of local employers. The introduction of the National Minimum Wage in April 1999 boosted the wages of many workers at the low end of the pay hierarchy. The 1999 New Earnings Survey indicates that the percentage of part-time workers earning less than £3.60 an hour fell from 14.0% for women in 1998 to 4.4% in 1999.
That does not appear to be the end of the story, however. NES figures also show that a large proportion of those earning just above £3.60 but below £4.00 an hour in 1998, saw their pay rise to the £4.00 to £4.20 range as employers readjusted their pay structures. The sharp rise in minimum rates means that previously low paying sectors, such as retail and catering, now provide alternative employment for those at the bottom end of the local government scale. The table below illustrates the existence of competitive rates amongst employers found in virtually every community in the UK.
|Comparison with the private sector|
|Job Type||Private sector companies||£ per hour|
|Security Officer||Glaxo Wellcome||7.75-8.56|
|Wilkinson Home & Gdn||4.69-5.32|
|Source: Incomes Data Services, September 1999|
Competition for staff at all levels is exacerbated by a tightening labour market. Unemployment has been falling month by month and is currently at its lowest level in 20 years. The economic downturn predicted for early 1999 did not materialise. Even the hard-hit manufacturing sector is showing signs of growth, while employment in the service sector has grown by 1.7 % in the last year, despite significant pay increases as a result of the minimum wage coming into force. Job growth in the service sector has been demonstrated by the creation of over 100,000 jobs in the distribution, hotels and catering industry over the last year.
A serious rival for Scottish local government staff is the burgeoning call-centre industry, which has almost doubled in size since 1997. Income Data Services reports that the rapid growth of call centre employment has created tight labour markets in cities like Glasgow with major tele-business operations, forcing companies to expand into new regions in search of available, skilled labour. Median starting pay in the call-centre industry is now £10,500 for customer service advisors, with an average midpoint salary of £12,150. Pay for senior customer service advisors ranges from £13,000 to £17,000, with a midpoint of £15,000.
Companies with call centres are adding to benefits packages, as well as improving pay and career progression, in an attempt to attract and retain quality staff.
SCOTTISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE
In recent years there have been savage cuts in local government. This year as a result of the comprehensive spending review there will be significant increases in expenditure.
The following is an extract from Spending Plans for Scotland which was issued by Finance Minister Jack McConnell MSP in November 1999:
Government Supported Expenditure (GSE) is the provision we will make for what we think councils need to spend on the delivery of services. It includes loan and leasing charges and Grant Aided Expenditure (GAE). For 2000-01 GSE will be £6,728 million, an increase of 3.6% over the comparable figure for this year. We will make provision within the settlement for the national waste strategy. Aggregate External Finance (AEF) is the total support for local authority current expenditure decided by Scottish Ministers. It includes:
- Revenue Support Grant
- Certain specific grants
- Income from non-domestic rates
For 2000-01 AEF will be £5,614 million, an increase of 2.9% over the comparable figure for this year. Grant Aided Expenditure (GAE) is the amount we believe local authorities need to spend to provide a standard level of service. Although it is for local authorities to decide their own spending priorities within their expenditure guidelines, in allocating the 2000-01 GAE to services we will give priority to education, social work, police and fire. For 2000-01, the GAE total is £5,929 million, an increase of 3.5% over the comparable figure for 1999-00.
In summary, this states that Government Supported Expenditure is up 3.6%, that Aggregated External Finance is up 2.9% and that Grant Aided Expenditure is up 3.5%. This should put Scottish employers in a stronger position that in previous years to meet the substance of our claim.
FUTURE PAY TRENDS
Average earnings growth in the year to September 1999 was 4.7%. Growth in average earnings is expected to remain at current levels over the next twelve months. The average for 1999 will be 4.4% with an estimated 4.8% for the last quarter. An average earnings level of 4.3% is anticipated for 2000.
COST OF LIVING
Although forecasters expect inflation to rise gently throughout 2000 as the economy continues to pick up and world commodity prices rise, it will remain at historically low levels. The underlying rate should remain at or close to the Government's stated target of 2.5%. According to the Bank of England, expectations of inflation have "fallen substantially".
The persistence of low inflation gives the employers a unique opportunity to increase real earnings of local government workers, and to compensate for many years of below inflation increases.
There can be no doubt that Scottish local government employees have seen their real earnings fall in comparison with both other employees and prices.
Our claim seeks to close the gap between Scottish local government staff and local government staff in England and Wales as well as staff in the Scottish economy. It also seeks to close the gap between the pay of men and women.
At the same time, while the basic lowest pay rates have been raised as a result of the single status agreement, the number of low paid employees has increased enormously, leaving huge numbers of local government workers caught in the poverty trap.
Relatively low pay levels make local government vulnerable to competition from other employers in an increasingly tight labour market.
In making a claim for a minimum rate of £5 per hour and an increase of £500 or 5%, whichever is greater, we aim to address these issues. Given the levels of low pay, and the fall in real earnings that local government workers have experienced, our claim is simple, fair, modest, and justified. We therefore ask the employers to meet the claim in full.
29 August 2000
Councils hit as UNISON strike bites
Around 70,000 UNISON members working for Scotland's 32 local authorities are on strike across Scotland, the union announced today. UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union, decided to strike after rejecting a Council employers' offer of a 2.5% pay increase. The action caused chaos to local services across Scotland, disrupting refuse collection housing offices, schools, planning, leisure centres and many others. Even cleaners at the Scottish Parliament walked out, (the contract is operated by Edinburgh City Council).
Matt Smith,UNISON's Scottish Secretary, welcomed the success of the strike and called on Scotland's councils to settle the dispute.
"We have received literally thousands of applications to join UNISON since the result of the ballot was announced." He said "So we were confident of the success of our action. The effect of this one day on Scotland's services is a warning, that our members who provide those services are angry and frustrated Nobody knows better than our members that Scotland's Council's are under pressure. But they also know that 3.5million public sector workers across the UK have agreed increases averaging between 3.0% and 4.0%, including their colleagues in England and Wales. Scotland's councils should move their workers off the foot of the public pay league."
After the one day strike UNISON is planning a two and a three day strike. The dates planned for the next action will be announced shortly, after UNISON has assessed the full effect of this action.
Jane Carolan, Leader of UNISON's negotiators said
" Despite provocation in a number of areas, our members provided emergency cover to protect vulnerable clients and public safety. We ensured that weddings and funerals scheduled for today, went ahead. Our members have shown they care about the services, and they are now calling on Scotland's councils to ensure the people who deliver them are properly paid." UNISON will be discussing with its branches and members likely tactics to extend the action, should this be required.
Employers try frighteners as pay action steps up
Council employers look like taking a harder line in a desperate attempt to stave off disruption caused by their failure to settle the pay dispute.
CoSLA is writing to councils suggesting that they might like to write to members to advise' them of the dangers of the selective strike action.
It is no surprise that the employers are trying to put pressure on strikers, and some of the letter may well be statements of fact. However, UNISON already knows that information put out by one one council is misleading and wrong.
"We have examined the issues raised from a legal perspective and will raise challenges to a number of areas, said Local Government Organiser Joe Di Paola.
The union has also written to all affected members putting the record straight. In particular, UNISON makes it clear that any statement claiming that strike action will mean broken service is legally incorrect.
Service is NOT broken by the strike and strikers retain their previous service. Members on selective strike will have normal pay and pensions contributions covered by the union, so any threats in that area are covered.
"Having lost the arguments, our employers are now reduced to threats and peddling misinformation to break our members resolve, said Dougie Black, UNISON negotiators Chair.
"Instead of trying to put the frighteners on members, they would be better getting round the table and coming to a fair pay settlement.