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NJC PAY 14 Bulletin 44

Lobbying Council Leaders and MPs on NJC Pay

Briefing for Branches

  1. BACKGROUND

Following the 10 July strike, we need to maintain a high campaign profile to get an improved NJC pay offer. Following on from the day of protest on 20 August, we will announce soon campaign activities leading up to the industrial action on 14 October. Our priority for branches now is for you to do some vital lobbying of Council Leaders/Mayors and MPs.

The Local Government Association needs a mandate from each of its political groups – Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Independent - in order to reopen talks.

So, it is now absolutely critical to apply pressure on council leaders, elected mayors and MPs to get talks re-opened. Our aim is to lobby every council leader, every elected mayor and every MP. Every Regional Organiser has been asked to work with you and fix meetings with council leaders/mayors and MPs as a matter of urgency.

We need to make sure that all elected politicians are fully aware of the extent to which the real value of our members’ pay has been eroded and the impact of that erosion on their future pensions.

  1. WHAT DO WE WANT FOR NJC PAY?

Our members must benefit from the recovery and see their pay rise as the economy improves like everyone else. We want:

  • An improvement in the 1% element of the employers’ offer this year
  • Arbitration through ACAS to get talks moving again
  • A commitment to make the Living Wage the bottom rate of pay
  • A commitment to restoring lost earnings for all NJC workers

We also believe that the Employers should recognise that NJC pay, conditions and access to training are significantly inferior to all other parts of the public sector. We want longer-term discussions on:

  • An end to cuts in Green Book conditions
  • A new workforce strategy covering pay, conditions, equalities, training and collective bargaining

NJC pay takes a nose-dive!

The real value of a library assistant’s pay has fallen by £2,378 since 2010 – that means they would need another £2,378 this year just to buy the same things they could buy in 2010.

Other examples of the nose-dive in pay are:

  • The real value of a cleaner’s pay has fallen by £1,775
  • The real value of a nursery nurse’s pay has fallen by £3,224
  • The real value of a social worker’s pay has fallen by £5,752
  • The real value of a local government manager’s pay has fallen by £7,219

Change to the National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage increases to £6.50 per hour from 1 October 2014. The bottom NJC Scale Point 5 is less than £6.50 per hour so employers will have to take steps to ensure they are legally compliant. UNISON understands that the LGA has advised employers to abolish Scale Point 5, but without improvements in pay for everyone else, this will only add to the existing problems with the pay structure.

  1. LOBBY ALL ELECTED POLITICIANS - AND LET US KNOW THE ANSWERS!

Your Regional Organiser will be talking to you about organising a delegation to meet your local politicians. Please start to think about this now and talk to your Regional Organiser.

Use the database to help you

To support Regional staff and branches UNISON’s Local Government section has constructed a database of all the councils in your Region. This is available to you via your Regional Head of Local Government.

It contains the following information:

Local council information

  • Political control
  • A breakdown of councillors by political party
  • Details of councillors who hold positions in the Local Government Association or the Wales Local Government Association
  • Whether local elections will take place in May 2015

Constituency information

  • Parliamentary constituencies that cover each council area
  • Details of MPs who hold significant positions in government or the Opposition
  • UNISON membership and UNISON retired membership in each Parliamentary constituency

Financial information

  • The level of estimated unallocated reserves at 1 April 2010, 1 April 2011, 1 April 2012, 1 April 2013 and 1 April 2014. The figures are taken from data supplied by your council to the Department for Communities and Local Government
  • The level of estimated earmarked reserves at 1 April 2010, 1 April 2011, 1 April 2012, 1 April 2013 and 1 April 2014. The figures are taken from data supplied by your council to the Department for Communities and Local Government
  • The data for local authorities in Wales is taken from statement of accounts and is for 31 March 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013
  • Whether the council already pays the Living Wage (London Living Wage in London)

Questions to ask Council Leaders, Mayors and MPs

Below are the questions and some facts to select from in making your case. You will obviously need to customise them to make the best case locally.   Make sure your branch delegation includes low paid members who can explain how difficult it is to make ends meet, as well as higher paid members.

We would like you to establish the level of support among your local politicians for each of the following:

  1. Will they lobby within their political group in the LGA/WLGA to press the NJC Employers Side to re-open pay talks?
  1. Will they support:
  • An improvement in the 1% element of the employers’ offer this year
  • Arbitration through ACAS to get talks moving again
  • A commitment to make the Living Wage the bottom rate of pay
  • A commitment to restoring lost earnings for all NJC workers

A longer-term strategy to achieve:

  • An end to cuts in Green Book conditions
  • A new workforce strategy covering pay, conditions, equalities, training and more effective collective bargaining
  1. Do they agree that local government and school support workers should be included in the recovery and see their pay rise as the economy improves alongside other workers?
  1. Would they support UNISON’s view that a proportion of the extra income tax and national insurance income that flows to the Treasury from NJC pay increases should be ‘passported’ back to local authorities?
  1. The LGA’s financial projections in their publication ‘Future Funding Outlook 2014’ take no account of the need to restore eroded earnings. Similar publications by the WLGA do the same. Will they lobby within their political group in the LGA/WLGA for this to be built into forward financial projections?
  1. MAKING THE CASE – SOME FACTS AND FIGURES TO HELP YOU LOBBY

CASE 1:

The NJC Employers’ Side must re-open pay talks or go to arbitration through ACAS

  • Local government workers have borne the brunt of the cuts and are now being locked out of the recovery. There needs to be an improvement in the 1% element of the offer for this year
  • Arbitration through ACAS is a requirement of the NJC Green Book constitution if either party requests it
  • Other public sector workers earning less than £21,000 had a £250 pay increase in 2011 and 2012 to compensate for the pay freeze. NJC workers got nothing- even though their pay was also frozen in 2010Local Government pay was frozen in 2010, 2011 and 2012 – a year longer than other public sector workersIn 2013 the 1% pay award was less than inflation. So is this year’s offer. That’s five years of falling pay!
  • The fall in the value of NJC workers’ pay means that every £1 they had in 2010 is now only worth just over 80p
  • The current NJC pay structure is becoming increasingly unsustainable as scale points are deleted from the bottom but no changes take place elsewhere

Across the UK economy, the overall gender pay gap has widened. Falling NJC pay will make this worse as women are 78% of 1.5 million school and council workers

CASE 2:

Local government employees should be included in the recovery and see their pay rise as the economy

  • The Office for Budget Responsibility is forecasting earnings growth of 2.5% in 2014, 3.2% in 2015, 3.6% in 2016, 3.7% in 2017 and 3.8% in 2018
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer pointedly referred to this in his last Budget speech
    “And the OBR predict earnings to grow faster than inflation this year and in every year of the forecast.” (George Osborne, 19 March 2014)
  • The Prime Minster supports the idea too:
    “As we recover from the great recession hard working people...... can know they will share in the recovery” (David Cameron, 4 March 2014)
  • People want an economic recovery for everyone” (George Osborne, 24 May 2014).
  • We must redouble our efforts to ensure this is an economic recovery for all” (George Osborne, 24 May 2014)
  • “...so that every single person benefits from the recovery” (Greg Mulholland MP (Lib Dem) 25 July 2014)
  • The Opposition also says that everyone must benefit from the recovery:
    “We need a UK recovery that everyone can benefit from” (Ed Balls, 22 July 2013)
    “If we’re to get a strong and balanced recovery which everyone benefits from.....(Chris Leslie, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, 20 July 2014)

CASE 3:

A proportion of the extra income tax and national insurance income that flows to the Treasury from NJC pay increases should be ‘passported’ back to local authorities to help pay for our claim

  • Research for UNISON by the New Policy Institute showed that 55% of the cost of our claim would be met through higher tax and national insurance contributions and reduced in-work benefit expenditure
  • For every extra £100 the local council spends on pay:
  • £20 goes back to the Treasury in Income Tax
  • £12 goes back to the Treasury in employee National Insurance Contributions
  • £12.40 goes back to the Treasury in employer National Insurance Contributions (This will rise to £13.80 in 2016)
  • £10.20 (15% of the net increase) goes back to the Treasury in VAT and other indirect taxes
  • The Government has already accepted the principle that local councils should share the benefits in its City Deals and Labour has supported the same principle

CASE 4:Funding for significant longer-term pay increases must be built into councils’ forward financial projections

The LGA/WLGA financial projections take no account of the need to restore lost earnings.

  • We know that central government has drastically cut the funds available to local government
  • If a long-term solution to declining NJC pay is to be found, additional resources will be needed. The first step is to recognise that need in councils’ financial projections
  1. SOME BASIC ECONOMICS

Everyone agrees that getting money back into people’s pockets is key to securing a sustainable recovery.

Larry Elliott, the Guardian’s Economics Editor, spelt it out on 29 December 2013. He said:

“Rising real incomes equals rising consumption equals rising investment equals a far higher chance, even given the structural flaws in the economy, of a sustainable recovery.”

The next day, CBI Director, John Cridland, said:

"As the financial situation of many firms begins to turn a corner, one of the biggest challenges facing businesses is to deliver growth that will mean better pay and more opportunities for all their employees after a prolonged squeeze."

Only last month the German Bundesbank pushed for above inflation pay rises. The central bank recognised that it couldn’t improve internal economic growth without wages rising.

The Coalition’s Unfair Economic Choices

  • The UK is the 7th richest nation on earth and the 4th richest when it comes to wealth per person
  • Since 2010 cuts to corporation tax by central government now mean that over £5bn each year is handed to big businesses
  • In 2013, the Coalition government handed over £4bn each year to the highest earners paid over £200,000 a year by cutting their income tax rate from 50p to 45p
  • Cutting central government grants to local councils has been one of the ways the government has paid for the tax cuts to big business and high earners
  • HMRC say that over £32bn of tax goes uncollected each year. That doesn’t include the arrangements that Starbucks, Amazon and others use to reduce their Corporation Tax bills
  • Other estimates put that figure at over £130 bn

Unfairness within the public sector

  • Local government and school employees do the same – or similar- jobs to other employees in the public sector but are lower paid, in some cases by a lot!
  • 475,000 NJC employees earn less than the Living Wage of £7.65 an hour (£8.80 in London)
  • Over 1 million earn less than the £21,000 a year – the income level which the Coalition uses to define ‘low paid’
  • Social workers, planners, nursery nurses, other professionals and middle managers are often paid significantly more in the private sector

Local government has become ‘a minimum wage employer’

  • When the National Minimum Wage was introduced in 1999, the bottom NJC pay point was over 24% above the NMW. Now it’s just 2% above
  • Under the Employer’s pay offer the new minimum NJC pay point will still be the lowest in the public sector and lower than key private sector organisations – see the table below

 

28/08/2014


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