Local Government Branches call for a Special Conference on Local Government pay.

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Local Government Branches call for a Special Conference on Local Government pay.

A growing number of Local government UNISON branches are adding their support to Manchester UNISON’s call for a special conference to be convened to discuss the pay offer just accepted and where to go from here. Specifically the motion calls for:
In accordance with UNISON Rule D3.4.11our Branch / Branch Executive agreed to call for the requisition of a Special Local Government Service Group Conference to consider the following business:
 The 2014-2016 NJC Pay Proposals.
 The decision to cancel strike action on 14th October.
 The future Pay Consultation protocols in respect of Local Government pay claims.
 The best means to secure a decent pay increase for Local Government members and to receive and consider all motions from Branches and Regions concerning the above.’
Shropshire General Branch will be discussing this motion at its Branch Executive meeting on Thursday 20th November where I shall be pressing for us to support the motion and to add our names to the growing list of branches in support. Why am I doing so ? well
after the fiasco of the pay capitulation by the local government trade unions, UNISON activists need to work out how to make best use of  any special conference to debate and work out just where we go from here..

I think that at any special conference that we need to be absolutely clear as to our members aspirations over pay and we need to discover how and why we has a union we squandered the action on 10th July by settling for proposals which are in several ways worse than the one year 1% offer against which we took that action !  What can we say to those members that made the sacrifice and took action ? how can we look them in the eye and ask them to support us in future if this is to be the outcome ?

It is a simple but undeniable truth that local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be materially better off now had we not had a dispute over pay in 2014 and simply accepted the 1%. None of those who gain a pittance in 2014/15 (comparing the previous to the revised offer) have gained more than they lost by striking for a day – and everyone will suffer for our inability to fight for better pay in the year in which a General Election will be fought on the issue of living standards. If ever there was a time to push home on our campaign and to ratchet up the pressure then next year would have been it and we have weakly given that opportunity  away

Even when we have gained very little from disputes (as in 2008 when post-strike arbitration delivered an extra 0.3% )  we have at least been able to say that the sacrifice of strike action has delivered some benefit which (even if only in the long term) will be seen to have been worth having. In 2014 the truth is that we have asked members to make the sacrifice of taking strike action and have achieved worse than nothing as a result.

Within Shropshire the majority of members voting in this ballot voted to reject the offer and to continue with our campaign for a just and affordable pay rise  and they have not been slow in telling us that they feel let. That is why it is appropriate for us to convene a Special Service Group Conference.

If this conference  happens it will not be just an academic exercise in debate for its own sake. The whole future of national trade unionism is at stake here, if the three largest trade unions in the country cannot manage to secure anything for workers in the largest organised bargaining group in the economy then local government trade unionists will want to know what is the purpose of our national structures .

Alan James.
Branch Secretary.