Local Government Pay update

Thanks to everyone who has been working so hard on the Local Government Pay campaign. Here’s a brief update on where we are in negotiations and the next steps of the campaign:

Update on Discussions with Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay
The last meeting with Derek Mackay, on the 26th June, went well and as expected – constructive but not conclusive. The Scottish Government do not have a seat at our negotiating table and as such Derek Mackay cannot be seen to be negotiating local government pay – so we did not anticipate walking out of that meeting with a swag of cash, this is about applying political pressure. However we had a robust and respectful debate and he has committed to meeting again, this time jointly with COSLA. We wrote to him again following the meeting and he has replied to that – both letters are attached for your information. We know that COSLA representatives have also met with him to press for additional funding to ensure parity across local government – they also had a constructive exchange of views and he has committed to going back to them following their representations.

‘Education: It’s ONE Team’ campaign & response from Deputy First Minister, John Swinney
The ‘Education – It’s ONE Team’ campaign was *brilliant* so a massive thanks to everyone who participated in that. In little over two weeks we managed to collect, collate and deliver almost 3,500 postcards to Parliament – that’s 3,500 individual actions by members in a targeted group of our local government membership and countless more conversations about it across branches. The message resonated. A number of branches secured positive media coverage of the campaign with the pro forma press release and featured it on their social media accounts.

Having requested a meeting with John Swinney to hand over the postcards, and having had no response from him at all, we delivered the postcards directly to Parliament before the meeting with Derek Mackay. This was featured on social media and our press release was written up in a number of news outlets. John Swinney has now responded to our letters and campaign – a disappointing response – and that letter is also attached for your information.

‘Local Government: It’s ONE Team’ – Next steps of the campaign
Whilst COSLA have been consistent in their agreement with us about the need to uphold the principle of parity across the local government bargaining groups we need to give power to their elbow in their discussions with the Scottish Government and remind them that we will not give up on this.

It has therefore agreed to extend the campaign to the whole of the Local Government membership. The postcards worked so well with our members in education that it has been agreed we should do a similar exercise with the wider membership. To this end we have a new postcard (below and attached) which we are asking all members to send to the President of COSLA in advance of the next meeting of COSLA Leaders on the 31st August. Any improvement to the pay offer would have to be put to, and signed off at, this meeting so the intention is to ensure they know members strength of feeling before any decisions are taken.

Joint Sec Letter to Derek Mackay re Pay 290618
L from Derek Mackay 100718
Letter from John Swinney re LGvt Pay 010818

2018 Pay Claim

UPDATE – Local Government Pay
UNISON have been working hard to secure an improvement to the current pay offer put forward by COSLA. This briefing is to bring you up to date with this activity, to outline our next steps in trying to secure you a decent pay rise and let you know what you can do to help the campaign. (Links to copies of all of the correspondence referred to in this update can be found at the bottom of this mailing.)
RECAP – The Current Offer
As you know the offer put forward by COSLA was the same offer made to all four bargaining groups in Local Government – so the same offer as that made to Teachers, Craft Workers and Chief Officials. Whilst the employer termed this is a best and final offer we discovered that they had, at the same time as sending this to us, also written to the Scottish Government pressing for parity across the bargaining groups and asking that if the Scottish Government was so minded to give any one group of workers a higher increase than this that they provide the necessary funding to ensure that this extends to all Local Government bargaining groups.

Representations to the Scottish Government
It was against this background that the Joint Scottish Joint Council (SJC) Trade Unions agreed that we should ‘note’ the employers offer, their representations to the Scottish Government and that we should make our own representations to the Scottish Government in pursuit of our full claim. This position was put to the employer verbally and in writing on the 28th March and we wrote jointly to Derek Mackay MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, pressing the issue of parity and calling for additional funding for COSLA to deliver an increase which addressed both the cost of living and an element of restoration. The objective in doing both of these things was two-fold – to call on the Scottish Government to provide COSLA with additional funding to meet our claim and to keep the employer at the negotiating table.

We received a response from the Cabinet Secretary’s office on the 25th April – you can read a copy of that here. It is fair to say that this did not address the concerns outlined in our initial correspondence and we therefore wrote to him again pressing these points further – you can read a copy of that letter here. That further letter seemed to touch a nerve as we received by, almost immediate, return an invitation to meet with Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution. Given the significance of those discussions with the Scottish Government, and the potential for those to impact on our discussions with COSLA, the negotiating meeting that had been scheduled for the 4th May 2018 was postponed.

Meeting with Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution
The meeting with Derek Mackay MSP took place on the 10th May 2018 and is best described as constructive but not conclusive. We pressed him on a number of issues including the overall funding settlement for local government, the application of the public sector pay policy, the issue of parity in the level of increases applied across the public sector, the impact of many years of below inflation increases and increased workloads. It was notable from this discussion that the Scottish Government are very focused on delivery of their education agenda – and remain in discussion with the Teachers unions about their pay increase – but we pointed out that this would not be achieved without the efforts of our members in Local Government. There were a number of issues on which the Cabinet Secretary agreed to provide us with more information and we left with an offer of a further meeting.

Further Representations to the Scottish Government
On the 15th May we wrote again to the Cabinet Secretary confirming our wish to meet again and outlining the issues we thought could be usefully progressed – you can read a copy of that letter here. We also understand that COSLA have also written a further letter to him challenging the Scottish Government’s overall funding settlement figures.

Next steps
We expect to meet again with the Cabinet Secretary soon and, following that, reschedule our talks with COSLA. At that stage we hope to be in a better position to know if there is any more money available to improve the offer that is currently before us and we will keep you up to speed with those discussions. We continue to believe there is a window of opportunity here that we should explore before taking a view on whether we have an offer we could recommend to you in a ballot. That may take some time and that window of opportunity may prove fruitful, or it may not, but we believe we have a responsibility to explore it before making a recommendation to you. In the meantime we will continue to work with our trade union colleagues on a co-ordinated approach to lobbying the Scottish Government and your employer in pursuit of our full claim.

How can you help?
• Share this information with your colleagues and let them know what UNISON is doing to get you a decent pay increase.
• Ask fellow UNISON members to update their membership details so we have an e-mail address we can use to keep them up to date – they can update their details here.
• Follow @UnisonScotLGvt on Twitter for updates.
• Write to your local Councillor/MSP and ask them to support our claim.
• Recruit a colleague – the more members we have the bigger our voice in negotiations. Colleagues can join here.

We hope this update is helpful but if you have any questions or queries please don’t hesitate in contacting us on j.baxter@unison.co.uk.

Many thanks,

Johanna Baxter Mark Ferguson
UNISON, Head of Local Government Bargaining Chair, Scottish Local Government Committee

For Reference:
• You can read the pay claim that was submitted to COSLA on 12th January 2018 here
• You can read the employers offer letter, received on 26th March 2018, here
• You can read the Joint Trades Union response to that offer sent to COSLA on 28th March 2018 here
• You can read the Joint Trades Union initial letter to Derek Mackay sent on the 29th March 2018 here
• You can read the response from Derek Mackay’s office, received on 25th April 2018, here
• You can read the Joint Trades Union further response to Derek Mackay, sent on 1st May 2018, here
• You can read the Joint Trades Union further letter to Derek Mackay, following our meeting with him, sent on 15th May 2018, here

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Walk a Mile

Many of us have either suffered from mental health issues at some point in our life or knows someone who is suffering. Walk a Mile campaign is an event that Unison Fife endorses and what a great way to break the stigma and campaign for better awareness.

Please show your support for this event…

Local Government Pay

Local Government Pay

You will be aware that UNISON, along with the other trade unions representing members in Local Government, submitted a joint pay claim to your employer on the 12th January 2018. This claim was constructed following consultation with all members working in Local Government and you can read the detail of that here. This briefing is to bring you up to date with what has happened since then and what our next steps are in trying to secure you a decent pay rise.

The Offer

Whilst our claim was submitted early, in the hope that the employer would get round the table quickly to ensure a negotiated settlement in time for the pay implementation date of the 1st April, the employer did not deal with our claim until much later – they wait until they are in receipt of all of the pay claims for all of the different Local Government bargaining groups. There are four bargaining groups in Local Government – yourselves as local government employees, Teachers, Craft Workers and Chief Officials.

We finally received a response from the employer on Monday 26th March, less than 48 hours before we were due to meet them. You can read this offer letter here. They key points of the offer are:

• The policy and aspiration to achieve parity of pay awards across the bargaining groups, in as far as it is within COSLA’s control, has been re-affirmed by COSLA Leaders and a uniform pay offer is being made to the entire workforce, across all four of the local government bargaining groups.

• The pay offer is for one year and covers the period 1 April, 2018 to 31 March, 2019. The award will be back dated to the 1 April, 2018 application date.

• The offer has been aligned, for the most part, to be consistent with public sector pay policy in Scotland and is based on a 37 hour working week viz:-

– A 3% pay increase will apply to all employees earning up to £36,500.

– A 2% pay increase will apply to all employees earning £36,501-£80,000

– A flat rate increase of £1,600 to employees earning more than £80,000.

• The pay offer deviates marginally from public sector pay policy in relation to the Living Wage. It is proposed to increase the ‘Scottish Local Government Living Wage’ from its present level of £8.51 per hour to £8.77 per hour, thereby providing a full 3% increase.

• The offer provides for a 3% increase on all allowances that are normally agreed through the Scottish Joint Council (SJC), with the exception of the First Aid Allowance, which is under separate discussion between the Employers and Trade Unions Sides of the SJC.

• The employer has stated that pay offer is being made against a backdrop of a challenging settlement for local government and continued cost pressures for councils. They state that no additional monies have been made available in the 2018/19 local government settlement for this pay award, consequently, COSLA Leaders have stated that the offer now put to the various trade unions across the four bargaining groups is the best and final offer which can be made for this year.

Whilst the employer termed this is a best and final offer we discovered that they had, at the same time as sending this to us, also written to the Scottish Government pressing for parity across the bargaining groups (i.e. ensuring that whatever increase you get is the same as that achieved for Teachers or Craft workers) and asking that if the Scottish Government was so minded to give any one group of workers a higher increase that this that they provide the necessary funding to ensure that this extends to all Local Government bargaining groups.

Our Response

Your UNISON representatives met with the other trade unions’ representatives prior to meeting with the employer. All of the SJC Trade Unions agreed that we should ‘note’ the employers offer, their representations to the Scottish Government and that we should make our own representations to the Scottish Government in pursuit of our full claim. This position was put to the employer verbally and in writing on the 28th March 2018 – you can read this letter here. – and we wrote jointly to Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, pressing the issue of parity and calling for additional funding for COSLA to deliver an increase which addressed both the cost of living and an element of restoration – you can read that letter here.

The objective in doing both of these things was two-fold – to call on the Scottish Government to provide COSLA with additional funding to meet our claim and to keep the employer at the negotiating table.

As the trade union representing by far and away the largest number of workers in Local Government we are conscious of our responsibility to explore all available avenues open to us before coming to you with a recommendation to accept or reject the offer before us. We know that taking industrial action is not an easy option – we would only ever ask you to do this if we thought there was no possible alternative.

It is unfortunate that the GMB have chosen to ballot on a recommendation to reject, with a view to taking industrial action, before those avenues are exhausted, however that is a decision for them. As far as your UNISON representatives are concerned we will always be guided by what we believe is in the best interests of our members – there is a window of opportunity here that we believe we should explore before taking a view on whether we have an offer we could recommend to you in a ballot. That may take a couple of weeks and that window of opportunity may prove fruitful, or it may not, but we believe we have a responsibility to explore it before making a recommendation to you.

Next Steps

The next meeting with the employer is on the 4th May 2018 and we would hope to have had a response from the Scottish government by then. As soon as we have that we will be in a better position to know if there is any more money available to improve the offer that is currently before us and we will get in touch then with more information for you.

In the meantime we will continue to work with our trade union colleagues on a co-ordinated approach to lobbying the Scottish Government and your employer in pursuit of our full claim.

Pay Survey

Special thanks to all 9,263 members who participated in the Pay claim survey – you have given us some very useful data on what you think about pay and what action you are prepared to take in support of our claim that we can use in our deliberations about how we handle the current negotiations. In the coming days each UNISON branch will receive a breakdown of the survey responses for their branch and will start to build on that information to target their campaign strategies going forward.

We hope this update is helpful but if you have any questions or queries please don’t hesitate in contacting us on j.baxter@unison.co.uk.

Many thanks,

Johanna Baxter
UNISON, Head of Local Government Bargaining

Pension increases and contributions

All public service pensions will increase by 3% for pensions paid before April 2017, there is a graduated taper for those who retired during the year. The increase is effective from 9 April 2018.

For contributing members, pension pots under the CARE schemes will also increase by 3% for service in the current financial year.

These increases are applied across all public service schemes as a consequence of the Public Sector Pensions Act. Further details can be found in this SLGPS circular.
https://tinyurl.com/ybpnql67

The SPPA has also published new guidance on how contribution rates should be calculated in the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme.
https://tinyurl.com/y869n3t9

The above circular also increases the SLGPS contribution bands as follows:

Severe Weather Update

***ADVERSE WEATHER UPDATE***

Your branch wrote to the Head of HR within Fife Council on Friday March 2nd to start early discussions on how the employer was intending to deal with the issue of members experiencing difficulties in attending work due to the severe weather. Below is the response from the employer as a result of these discussions.

Severe Weather Guidance

Following the unique challenges presented by the unprecedented weather conditions last week, CET have taken a decision to ensure that no employee is disadvantaged. The following information only applies to the defined period Wednesday 28th February to Friday 2nd March inclusive and the current, agreed severe weather arrangements (PY12 and PY13) remain in place for all other time outwith this period and for future periods of severe weather.

CET have decided that employees who lost time during the period of severe weather from Wednesday 28th February to Friday 2nd March will have a special credit of time up to their standard working day granted.
The following principles will apply:-

· The special credit of time will be granted to employees to cover absences from work as a result of adverse weather from 28th February to 2nd March inclusive

· Employees who worked part of any day during the defined period should have special credit of time granted to make up their standard working day

· If employees had pre-planned annual/flexi leave for these days then this will remain as pre-planned leave

· If employees reported in sick, this will be recorded as sick leave

· If employees requested leave during the defined period due to weather/travel concerns then this should be cancelled and special credit of time granted instead

· Casual/supply workers who were scheduled to work during this period and could not attend due to office and school closures, should be paid for the pre-agreed hours

Queries should be directed to your line manager in the first instance.

Job Evaluation Pay Lift

To all members who have recently received a pay uplift.

As you will know some members have received a pay increase as a result of a recent job evaluation exercise.  However we recognise that not everyone received the award backdated to April 2016.

 UNISON Fife have recently submitted a collective grievance on behalf of our members who did not receive the backdate or increment award.  We will keep members updated on our progress.