North Somerset UNISON has recently balloted members on proposals to cut pay enhancements.
85% rejected the cuts to pay enhancements and are prepared to take some form of industrial action.
15% accepted the cuts with 1 year pay protection.
We have informed North Somerset Council that our members have overwhelmingly rejected the proposals. We are now in further negotiations with the council, and will ballot members again on a new set of proposals within the next month or so.
In the meantime we need members to let us know what the financial impact on them will be. You can do this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01934 634759.
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
North Somerset UNISON members, including members working in Libraries and the START team lobbied North Somerset Council as they met to set their budget for the forthcoming year - £15 million of cuts, including cuts to overtime and unsocial hours payments for staff.
Opposition councillors proposed 4 amendments to mitigate the impact of the cuts, including stopping the cuts to Community Meals, START and Pay enhancements for staff, as well as paying the Living Wage, but the massive Tory majority ensured the budget got voted through.
Green Party Councilor Leimdorfer praised the START team saying they have received 270 compliments and only 1 complaint from service users, whereas the private sector had received a couple of dozen compliments and a similar number of complaints. Councillor Leimdorfer gets the award for quote of the night when he said: "START is where privatisation should stop". He talked about double standards - the principle of full cost recovery which is being applied to Community Meals charges is not being applied to collecting large numbers of green bags from big houses. That Local government is supposed to promote the common good and provide services for the vulnerable. Councillor Leimdorfer also suggested that the £157,000 which had recently been added to the Contingency budget could be used to pay for enhancments.
Tory Executive member Tony Lake confirmed that the cuts to enhancements are not just about bringing North Somerset in line with other local authorities, but about bringing us in line with the private sector (and of course this will help them when they outsource START)
Independent councillor Donald Davies talked about the £1.8 million underspend which could be used to finance the opposition budget amendments. He also said that the cuts to enhancements are a race to the bottom, and that Tory councillors obviously had no experience of industry, where workers are paid extra for working nights. He said staff have worked hard in difficult times, and the proposal to cut enhancements is just nasty, and typical of the Tories.
Labour councillor Ian Parker read out an email he'd received from a staff member about the impact of cuts to enhancements. Labour councillor Richard Tucker talked about the erosion of terms and conditions over the last 30 years, and suggested the cuts to enhancements be postponed until after the election.
Lib Dem councillor Mike Bell also spoke against the cuts to enhancements and asked councillors present to think about what sort of jobs staff getting enhancements do.
UNISON members should note that the amendment concerning protecting pay enhancements was pretty much unanimously voted against by the Tory majority, and for by Green, all Labour, some Independents, and Lib Dem councillor Deborah Yamanaka. The forthcoming local elections are a good opportunity for UNISON members to show their displeasure with those councillors who have voted for the cuts to enhancements - so don't vote Tory.
Opposition parties voted against recommendations 1 and 2 of the Council Report approving the budget, while the Tories voted for it. The report can be found at this link: http://apps.n-somerset.gov.uk/cairo/docs/doc26475.pdf. In addition Labour councillors voted against recommendations 3-6 of the report (concerning council tax setting), while Tory, Green, Independent and Lib Dem voted for.
A UNISON Rep spoke at the council meeting - here's ours speech:
We have submitted a paper ahead of the meeting, which I hope you have had time to read and consider. We are in danger of repeating ourselves year after year, but again we are urging councillors to question whether the levels of reserves are strictly necessary. This year on top of £8 million in general reserves, you have a £2 million contingency reserve (which has been massively underspent over the last few years), and the recent review of earmarked reserves has created a new £2 million redundancy reserve, a £1.38m capacity fund for transformation reserve, plus a new £3.1 million transformation projects reserve for Agilisys led digital transformation projects which are likely to lead to many more job losses. This is a total of £8 million which could be invested in services, but instead is being invested in privatisations and redundancies.
Again this year we are urging councillors to pay your staff the Living Wage, and to ensure that schools across the district pay the Living Wage. Councillors may be interested to know that over half the Primary Schools in North Somerset are either Church of England, Catholic or Co-Operative, and all have signed national agreements with UNISON to implement the Living Wage. The benefits of paying the Living Wage to both employers and the local economy are well-known, and are supported by all political parties.
In our view this year's budget is yet another attack on the staff who have kept council services running despite the cuts. The budget proposals include the loss of 21 full-time equivalent jobs, including School Crossing Patrols, along with the transfer of 150 staff to Agilisys and Liberata (at least 30 of whom will face redundancy as Agilisys transform services), the proposed transfer to the private sector of 85 staff (mainly women) in the START reablement team, the loss of 10 to 15 management posts, as well as unspecified staff reductions in Property & Asset Management, Legal & Democratic Services, Human Resources and Training departments across the council. Council staff that avoid the cull will see their workloads increase even further as a result of fewer managers, as well as the loss of admin staff, who will soon be sitting in the centralised Agilisys hubs, making it highly likely that the remaining council staff will be doing their own admin. We are now very worried that services are likely to fail.
Over the last 5 years your staff have seen their pay fall in real terms - UNISON has estimated that local government workers have lost about 20% of their pay. The recently concluded 2.2% cost of living increase over 2 years is the first close to inflation pay rise for 4 years - and that's only the case because inflation has fallen so low. Councillors will be aware that this year's staff survey shows that levels of satisfaction with working for the council have dropped by 6%, while levels of dissatisfaction have increased by 11%. And only a quarter of staff said they would speak highly about the council as an employer. As the economic situation is improving, UNISON members are reporting that more and more of their colleagues are leaving to go and work elsewhere.
So given all of this, and on top of 400 job cuts over the last 4 years, it is a real kick in the teeth for staff to find out that the council is now proposing to remove and reduce pay enhancements or the extra payments it makes to staff working overtime and unsocial hours. 400 staff, or a quarter of the council's workforce, will be affected by these cuts to pay, and in some cases (particularly for part-time workers) they could lose between 10 and 20% of their monthly wage packet. Those affected include staff working in Libraries, Home Care, Community Meals, CCTV, Parking, Social Workers, and Area Officers. The cuts to pay enhancements are designed to save the council £200,000 over 2 years. It is therefore interesting to note that because of the delays to the Dolphin Square development the council is losing income of £20,000 per month from Carlton Street car park - it now looks very much to us like council staff are paying for this lost income.
We think that the removal and reduction of pay enhancements will have a huge impact on already low staff morale, as well as on recruitment and retention. Councillors will be interested to know that the proposed cuts to enhancements, in most cases, take our rates below the rates paid by the other West of England authorities. In combination with our lower levels of basic pay, this will create major problems for the council in recruiting. These proposals will also impact on services, as the council may find staff unwilling to work overtime, unsocial hours, or spend their free time on call out and standby if they are not paid adequately. It will also make it difficult for the council to cover annual leave and sickness, and as a result may lead to services such as libraries closing.
We are asking councillors to seriously consider whether the cuts to enhancements, which aim to save a relatively small amount of money for the council, are worth the risk of further damage to the council's relationship with your staff.
Saturday, 14 February 2015
UNISON members working in the NHS will be receiving ballot papers asking them to accept or reject the latest pay offer from the NHS employers.
The ballot closes at 10 am on Monday 2nd March.
If you have not received your ballot paper by 20 February please phone 0800 0 857 857 to request a duplicate
Last year (2014/15) the government refused to negotiate wit the trade unions and imposed a two-year pay freeze on 60% of NHS staff, with only those at the top of their pay band receiving a non-consolidated lump sum payment of 1%.
Your industrial action has improved this offer for 2015/16. But the offer falls short of what NHS staff deserve, although it does address some of the key concerns that unions have about low pay in the NHS. Those on the lowest pay bands in the NHS will receive an increase of between 2.1%-5.6%, but the very lowest pay band will still fall short of the Living Wage rate, currently £7.85 an hour outside London.
UNISON's Health Service Group Executive (HSGE) believes that this is the best offer that can be achieved through negotiation. The HSGE is clear that if members reject this proposed pay offer, UNISON will need to continue with our programme of industrial action starting with another strike on Friday 13 March. We will need your support and participation on the day if you choose to reject this deal and continue with strike action.
Proposed Pay Offer 2015/16:
A. 1% consolidated pay rise for all staff up to point 42 from April 2015
B. Abolition of the bottom point of AfC and increasing pay point 2 to £15,100.
C. A further additional £200 consolidated for staff on pay points 3-8.
D. An increment freeze in 2015/16 for staff on pay point 34 and above for one year only
E. Urgent talks to take place with a view to the proposed redundancy changes being
implemented from 1 April 2015
UNISON members need to talk to their stewards and look at the following information, which will help them decide whether or not to accept the offer.
NHS Pay Proposals Stewards Briefing
NHS Pay Proposals FAQ
UNISON members may also want to consider that this offer is, after all, only a 1% pay increase (although inflation is currently falling). It is a very small increase - particularly for those NHS staff who did not receive the unconsolidated 1% lump sum for 2014/15, and had their pay frozen, It also does not take the lowest level of NHS pay up to the Living Wage.
BUT IF YOU WANT THE PAY OFFER TO BE IMPROVED YOU WILL NEED TO BE PREPARED TO TAKE FURTHER INDUSTRIAL ACTION.
MAKE SURE YOU TAKE PART IN THE BALLOT TO GIVE YOUR VIEW ON THE PAY OFFER
Sunday, 8 February 2015
This years budget is another attack on the staff who have kept council services running despite the cuts. This year's budget proposals include the loss of 21 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, along with the transfer of 150 staff (120 FTEs) to Agilisys and Liberata on 31st January 2015 (30 of whom will face redundancy as Agilisys transform services), the proposed transfer of 52 FTEs in the START reablement team to the private sector, the loss of 10 to 15 management posts, as well as unspecified staff reductions in Property & Asset Management, Legal & Democratic Services, Human Resources and Training departments across the council. Council staff that avoid the cull will see their workloads increase even further as a result of less managers, and Admin staff separated from their teams and transferred into centralised Agilisys hubs, making it highly likely that the remaining staff will be doing their own admin. In our opinion the timing of the transfer of Admin staff, along with the roll out of the ICT transformation, and the implementation of the Social Care Act, is very likely to lead to service failure.
Over the last 5 years council staff have seen their pay fall in real terms - UNISON have estimated that local government staff have lost about 20% of their pay through a 3 year pay freeze (2010/11 - 2012/13), followed by a below inflation 1% increase for 2013/14. The recently concluded 2.2% pay increase over the 2 years up to 31st March 2016 is the first close to inflation pay rise for 4 years - and that's only the case because inflation has fallen so low. Over the last 5 years the council has underspent on its budget for staff salaries by just over £4 million - this money has been put into the council's reserves. Every year the council undertake a staff survey. This year levels of satisfaction with working for the council have dropped by 6%, while levels of dissatisfaction have increased by 11%. Only a quarter of staff said they would speak highly about the council as an employer. In addition over the last year the council has seen a number of senior officers leave, and UNISON members are reporting that more and more of their colleagues are leaving to go and work elsewhere. In our view, if the council is not careful, it will find that many more of its experienced staff will move on to other employers, and it will also find it difficult to recruit new staff.
So given the results of the staff survey and on top of 400 job cuts over the last 5 years, and the real terms cuts in pay, it is beyond belief that the council is now proposing to remove and reduce pay enhancements or the extra payments it makes to staff working overtime and unsocial hours. These payments will be reduced to a point where the council will not make extra payments to staff who work overtime, evenings, nights, and weekends, or who are on call and on standby at times which are outside their normal working hours. 400 staff, or a quarter of the council's workforce, will be affected by these cuts to pay, and in some cases they could lose between 10 and 20% of their monthly wage packet. Those affected include staff working in Libraries, Home Care, Community Meals, CCTV, Parking, Social Workers, and Area Officers. The council are arguing that these reductions are necessary because of the current financial situation, to avoid redundancies and because our levels of enhancements are apparently higher than in two thirds of other local authorities. The cuts to pay enhancements are designed to save the council £200,000 over 2 years. It is therefore interesting to note that because of the delays to Dolphin Square development the council is losing income of £20,000 per month from Carlton Street car park - it now looks to us like council staff are paying for this lost income. In addition, although the council claim that accepting a reduction in enhancements will mean less need for redundancies the council has created a £5.35 million ear-marked reserve to pay for £3 million of so-called transformation projects, including digital transformation (leading to job losses), and also to pay for £2 million of redundancies.
We think that the impact of the proposed reductions on already low staff morale, as well as on recruitment and retention, will be huge. We also think that the council will need to ensure that the combination of our lower rates of basic pay plus levels of enhancements, do not make North Somerset an unattractive place to work, in comparison to the rates of basic pay and enhancements paid by neighbouring authorities - otherwise they will find it difficult to recruit. In our view these proposals will also impact on services, as the council may find staff unwilling to work overtime, unsocial hours, or spend their free time on call out and standby if they are not paid adequately. It will also make it difficult for the council to cover annual leave and sickness, and as a result may lead to services such as libraries closing. On the 17th February we will be asking our employers - North Somerset councillors - to put a stop to the proposal to reduce pay enhancements and to stop the war on workers at North Somerset Council.
Download UNISON's Submission on Budget 2015