South Lanarkshire Council UNISON members are being balloted along with their local government colleagues across Scotland in what is seen as the first big test of the new Trade Union Act 2016.
This tory government legislation means that unless 50% of eligible members take part in the ballot, UNISON cannot call industrial action. There have been localised disputes, but this is the first large scale UK ballot under the new legislation.
UNISON local government members across Scotland are being balloted for industrial action, including strike action, because they had already voted overwhelmingly to reject the pay offer that was put forward earlier this year.
Years of pay restraint and inflation means local government pay is worth far less now than ten years ago. Standards of living have been squeezed as the price of food, gas and electricity, travel and childcare continue to rise.
Mike Kirby, UNISON Scotland secretary said, “This UNISON Scotland ballot affects every trade unionist. It is important that we show the UK government that we will not be bullied by the Trade Union Act 2016. Local government staff have seen big cuts in pay and they have the right to decide how they negotiate with their employers. We urge all UNISON members to return their ballot paper before the 30 May deadline.
UNISON members are clear that what is on the table is derisory considering the cuts that council workers have had to endure. The votes of our 70,000 members could affect the future earnings of nearly four times as many workers – so its crucial we make our voice heard. UNISON has fought hard for fair pay and to end pay restraint and we are recommending further industrial action. But above all we are urging UNISON members to vote.”
In the recent consultative ballot UNISON members overwhelmingly rejected the employers’ pay offer for 2017/18 – by 78% to 22%. The employers’ offer was: £350 flat rate for those earning up to £35,000; 1% for those earning over £35,001; Scottish local government living wage to be the minimum pay for all pay and allowances including additional hours, contractual overtime and other allowances. It will be pensionble.
Following a resounding 77.6% rejection in the consultative ballot on the employers’ pay offer, UNISON will now move to ballot its 70,000 local government members across every local authority in Scotland on industrial action.
Dougie Black, regional organiser for UNISON Scotland, said: “Local government workers have suffered years of pay restraint and their pay is worth far less now than ten years ago. The cost of food, gas and electricity, travel and childcare continue to rise and, as a consequence, their living standards have been severely eroded. This can not continue.
“If pay had even just risen with inflation a home care worker, for example, would be paid £19,900 a year when instead they are paid just £16,900; an early years’ worker would receive £24,100 instead of £20,400 and a library assistant would earn £26,400 instead of £22,400. And that’s just to keep up with the cost of living.
“Fair pay remains a priority for UNISON. Our members are the cogs that keep local government services turning and they deserve to be treated fairly.”
UNISON urges local government members in Scotland to vote to reject the unfair pay offer. You only have until midday on 7 April to vote at unison.org.uk/lgscot17 in the online consultative ballot.
What’s not fair?
Your pay is worth far less now than ten years ago after years of pay restraint and inflation. Local government workers are seeing their living standards squeezed as the prices of food, gas and electricity, travel, food and childcare continue to rise. But while inflation indexes show how costs are rising, the impact on individual households is often worse. This cannot continue.
The employers have offered:
• Employees earning less than £35,000 a £350* increase (*pro rata based on 37 hours)
• Employees earning more than £35,000 a 1 per cent increase.
• Scottish Local Government Living Wage is the minimum pay for all pay and allowances including additional hours, contractual overtime and other allowances. It will be pensionable.
What is fair?
The employers’ offer falls far short of our claim. We asked for:
• A flat rate payment of £1,000 for all employees.
• The continued uprating of the Scottish Local Government Living Wage.
• A future pay strategy to identify and redress the imbalance caused by previous pay awards below the rate of inflation.
UNISON urges you to reject the offer.