Fair Pay for Local Government Workers

Unison Fife have sent letters out to the newly elected councillors with regards to the 2012/2013 Pay Claim….

Dear Councillor

Fair Pay for Local Government Workers

Congratulations on your election to Fife Council.

We are writing to you as the Branch Secretaries of the Fife Unison Branch and the local Unite and GMB branches to ask you to give urgent consideration to the current state of pay of our members and all those working for your local authority on SJC pay and conditions. I would like your council to join with the trade unions in helping to alleviate the hardship many of them are facing.

You will be aware that our members are facing a second year without a pay increase and when this is added to the rising cost of living it equates to a real terms pay cut. Notwithstanding this the trade unions have submitted a pay claim for 2012/13 calling for a £1,000 flat rate payment and the introduction of a Living Wage currently set at £7.20ph. This is the second year of a pay freeze which impacts on all our members but particularly on the many low paid workers employed by this authority, the majority of whom are women. Local government workers are now the poor relations of the public sector in terms of low pay, a situation that cannot continue if you wish to continue to provide quality public services to the people of Fife. Not surprisingly, UNISON, Unite and GMB reject this continuing pay freeze and ask that all councillors urge the Scottish Employers to return to the bargaining table to address this issue.

It is also unacceptable for Local Government workers to be denied the £250 payment promised by the Scottish Government to public sector workers earning less than £21,000 per annum. This merely emphasis the growing pay gap between workers in local authorities and the rest of the public sector in Scotland.

The Government has for the second year running accepted the recommendations of Pay Review Bodies for public sector pay awards for 2012-13. Public sector workers covered by the Bodies in the civil service, the NHS and teachers earning a full-time equivalent of £21,000 or less will now rightly receive a pay increase of £250 for the second year running.

Whilst £250 will not address our claim in full, such a payment would go some way towards alleviating the hardships currently facing many of our low paid members.

In addition the Scottish Government has introduced the Living Wage, set at £7.20 per hour to all public sector bodies that fall under their jurisdiction. Notably this does not include local government! If this authority is not one of the 11 who currently pay a living wage or a living wage pay supplement now is the time to address this. To give a flavour of why there is a need to introduce a living wage, the uprated national minimum wage will correspond exactly with the bottom point of SCP 3, currently set at £6.19 per hour. When compared with other public sector bodies our claim that local government are the poor relations of the public sector is certainly justified.

Pay and conditions of service are also being cut at a local level, while our members now do the work of employees who have been made redundant. Not only is this demoralising, but creates uncertainty within the workforce when job security and future employment is under threat. For this authority to continue to deliver quality services you need to value your workforce and invest in them as they are the dedicated public face of FifeCouncil.

To add insult to injury, the UK Government is also intending to lift the hours qualification threshold for Working Tax Credit from 16 to 24 for employees in couple households from 6 April. This will mean that some of our members will be deprived of benefits which make the difference between survival and absolute poverty.

UNISON, Unite and GMB are saying ‘enough is enough’. Low and diminishing pay is not only a gross injustice towards our hard-working members and their families. It also has damaging implications for economic revival, local economies and for the quality of vital community services now and in the future.

For these reasons, I am writing with urgency to ask you to support and press for the following;

• As an interim measure, pay the £250 promised by the Scottish Government to public sector employees in your council from 1 April 2012 as a consolidated payment

• Implementation of the Living Wage, currently set at £7.20 per hour

• Identify part-time employees who may be affected by the change in conditions for Working Tax Credit and seek to enhance their hours to 24.

• Resist making (further) cuts to pay, hours and conditions at a local level.

Councils face a stark choice about the future. They can continue to undervalue and squeeze employees until working for a local authority becomes a ‘last resort’ employment option and services deteriorate. Or they can recognise that properly treated employees are key to high quality services and reward them with decent pay and conditions for their dedication and loyalty.

The trade unions are committed to working with you to support local communities and improve services at this difficult time. I hope you will support our claim and we would be very happy to meet with you to discuss this further.

I look forward to receiving your response.

With best wishes,

Branch Secretary, UNISON

On behalf on UNITE and the GMB