The Courier article

May members may be aware of the recent article in the Fife edition of The Courier newspaper, linked below.

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/fife-council-s-shocking-plans-to-save-cash-revealed-1.705786

 

Fife’s biggest trade union, Unison, said yesterday that it told Fife Council in “no uncertain terms” that it would resist any attempts to change the terms and conditions of council staff as detailed in a leaked dossier.

Unison Fife branch secretary told The Courier newspaper “For this council, which claims to be an anti-poverty council, to even suggest such proposals is outrageous. Thousands of Fife Council workers earn so little that they are dependent on foodbanks. They already struggle to make ends meet. This would simply make their plight worse. The joint trade unions made it clear we would resist any attempt to bring any of these measures in. Fife council already has 4000 fewer staff than it did 4 years ago. There are more demands on and more strain on those who are left. Staff are at breaking point any many already go above and beyond what they are expected to do, doing more for less. There have already been pay freezes. Our members did not cause this austerity crisis but our members are suffering the most. With cuts, how far do you go? How long until the council can’t provide services. This affects absolutely everyone at the council and if they press ahead with this, the workforce will unite against it”

2015/16 Pay Claim

SCOTTISH JOINT COUNCIL TRADE UNION SIDE

TRADE UNION SIDE PAY CLAIM 2015/16

 

 

The Local Government Committee considered the outcome of recent ballot on Pay. You will recall that members voted to accept the new proposals from CoSLA by 70.8% to 29.2%. It was agreed that this result concluded pay for 2014, however branches and members are to be congratulated at the pressure that was brought to bear on the employers to force them to improve upon their original offer. The strength and influence of UNISON was very clearly demonstrated, given the GMB and Unite played no part in this dispute. Unison has written formally to the employers accepting the new proposal.

 

But as for 2015/16

 

The Trade Union Side of the Scottish Joint Council submit to the Annual Meeting of the SJC the following Pay Claim for the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.

  1. A settlement that runs for a period of one year with effect from 1 April 2015
  2. £1 per hour for all employees on all spinal column points
  3. Full consolidation of the Living Wage on an ongoing basis in line with recommendations made by the Living Wage Foundation and also applicable to local authority procurement in the award of contracts.
  4. Early deletion of spinal column points below the level of the Living Wage.

Recent developments regarding consolidation mark real progress towards the Living Wage being the entry point on pay in Local Government. The Trade Union Side welcome the commitment to delete spinal column points below that level, however this now needs to be translated into actual commitments backed up by a Joint Secretaries Circular.

Background

This claim is set in the context of a seventh consecutive year of decline in the value of wages, the longest such decline ever recorded, combined with a diminishing workforce within local government with our members being expected to continue to deliver high quality public services with diminishing resources. Over 39,000 jobs have been lost in local government in Scotland in Scotland since 2007 with a further 3,000-4,000 expected to be cut in the next two years. Job security is a major issue for all of our members, the current climate creates great uncertainty and does not allow for any future planning. No redundancy agreements are in place in some local authorities, however consideration requires to be given as to how the SJC can alleviate these concerns and strengthen job security going forward.

Inflation

Whilst pay over the last five years has been virtually static, price increases impacting at greater levels than headline inflation figures have led to a considerable drop in living standards. Over this period the gap has grown to 14%. Inflation as experienced by individuals can be markedly different. This has tended to be the case, particularly for low paid workers in recent years. Spending on necessities makes up a greater share of the available income of the low paid than it does the better off. In the era of austerity the rate of inflation has often raced ahead of indexed inflation. The Office of National Statistics data shows that food has mostly been increasing in price faster than indexed inflation for the last three years and the price of gas and electricity has always been ahead of average inflation. It’s a similar story for housing costs. Since 2007 the average rent for a council house has increased by 26%. In the same time the wages of a local council worker have increased by 8.3%. In addition RPI is expected to rise during the course of 2015 to over 3%.

 

 

Living Wage

The recent development from the employers to fully commit to paying the Living Wage is welcome. A mechanism now needs to be found to apply the outcomes of the Living Wage Foundation on an ongoing basis. Only 6 local authorities apply the living wage as the bottom point of their pay scales leaving 26 authorities paying the living wage rate in the form of a supplement with 2 of the 26 using allowances to offset the level of the supplement.

The Trade Union Side view the deletion of the spinal column points beneath the level of the living wage as being crucial to Scottish Local Authorities being able to claim that they are Living Wage employers. The recent agreement with CoSLA commits to achieving this in a period of up to 3 years. It is the view of the Trade Union Side that this period can be shortened and that to do so requires both sides of the SJC to fully explore and understand what barriers there are to overcome. It is also our view that we seek to negotiate a mechanism to ensure that the Living Wage becomes the minimum rate applicable through procurement when local authorities are awarding contracts.

Conclusion

The SJC Trade Unions are of the view that previous settlements in local government in Scotland have not maintained our members pay in comparison to inflationary movements. We do welcome the progress made in applying the Living Wage to local authorities in Scotland and our claim this year seeks to build on that and sustain it going forward. We also welcome the commitment and share the commitment to ensure that joint negotiation and consultation through the bargaining machinery will apply in all aspects of our relationship in seeking a negotiated settlement.

The Trade Unions now seek the Scottish Employers response.