Consulting unison members over the NJC pay proposals and suspending 14 October strike action: how the decision was made
How the 14 October action over NJC pay was suspended? What were the negotiations that led to the revised proposals put forward by the Local Government Association (LGA)?
We hope this bulletin will help you and your members to understand the sequence of events and participate fully in the consultation.
LGA pulled back into negotiations
As you know, the LGA had refused to negotiate further with us over their initial March offer of 1% with some bottom- loading. They also refused to engage with arbitration via ACAS, as provided for in the collective agreement – the ‘Green Book’. This refusal continued until 13 August, when they agreed to meet with us and discuss other issues than the pay offer at a meeting chaired by ACAS. This was not arbitration, which the LGA would still not agree to. As a result of this meeting, we were able to move on to discussions about the March pay offer, which we had rejected.
Very tough discussions took place during September. These resulted in the LGA coming forward with the initial proposals which were circulated to branches in NJC Pay Bulletin 48. UNISON made it clear that these were not acceptable at a meeting with the employers on 2 October and the LGA then came back with the revised proposals which were circulated to you on 10 October. These include an additional lump sum for those on scale point 26 and above to be paid on 1 April 2015. This is to ensure that no-one would receive less than the equivalent of 1% in cash value in 2014 – when the 2.2% increase in January 2015 and the non-consolidated lump sum are combined.
UNISON’S NJC Committee takes decisions
UNISON’s NJC Committee met on 25 September and considered the initial proposals for the first time. The Committee decided to reject them and continue with the strike action planned for 14 October. The Committee also asked the negotiators to return to the LGA and say that the proposals were not acceptable and seek further negotiations. There was also concern that the proposals didn’t amount to a final offer and could not be guaranteed until the LGA had consulted councils. This is because the LGA has its own consultation procedures and had only consulted councils on the initial March offer.
A further date for an NJC Committee meeting was set for 9 October to consider any developments. The negotiators did as requested by the NJC Committee and revised proposals were secured. Following the September meeting, many of the Regional representatives on the NJC Committee went back to their Regions and asked for Regional Local Government Committee meetings to be called so that they could get a view from branches in their Regions about the proposals.
Meanwhile GMB and Unite both took decisions to suspend the strike action on 14 October and consult members over the initial proposals, which they circulated to their members. Although we had not suspended the strike action UNISON was then placed in a position where we had to circulate the proposals too, as we did not want members to find out about them from other unions. This led to a call by a significant number of our branches and members for UNISON to consult our members too.
NJC Committee meeting on 9 October
At the NJC Committee meeting held on 9 October, there was a lengthy discussion about the revised proposals. There was a general view that they still fall short of our claim and our aspirations. Regional reps also reported back on views within their Regions on the mood for strike action. Two Regions argued strongly for continuation of the action, with another Region split on the issue.
Most Regional reps also reported that many members felt that they should be consulted over the proposals.
The NJC Committee’s decisions on 9 October
Following the discussion, the NJC Committee took three votes. The first vote was on whether to suspend the strike action planned for 14 October. The Committee voted by 20 votes to 9 in favour of suspending the action.
The second vote was on whether to consult members over the revised proposals as they stand. The Committee voted by 24 votes to 5 to consult members over the proposals.
Finally, the Committee considered what its recommendation to members should be in the consultation. There was a unanimous view that the proposals could not be recommended and that we should consult our members on the following basis:
“The UNISON NJC Committee’s view is that the employers’ pay proposals for 2014/16 fall far below the aspirations in our 2014/15 pay claim and what members deserve. However, the Committee believes it is the best achievable by negotiation and that only sustained all out strike action could achieve an improved pay offer.”
The vote to consult members on this basis was 19 -10.
of all NJC workers.