LG Pay Implementation Update

We advised we would keep you up to date on further implementations regarding the LG pay implementation. As advised previously Stirling Council is working towards having the LG pay settlement implemented in Novembers pay including back pay.  We have been advised yesterday that an additional 1-day of annual leave will be paid for term-time workers in January and for those that will receive this an additional day of annual leave when this will be added soon to your annual leave entitlement, however, we were further advised yesterday by the employer that their interpretation and the lack of reference to a leave year in the COSLA circular, to mean this is a decision for individual authorities to make, as COSLA are aware Local Authorities operate different leave years. Recognising the entitlement to the additional day commenced 1st April 2022, they are proposing to pro-rata this according to a leave year, which runs January to December thus meaning that for this year 2022 Stirling council staff will only receive three-quarters of a day’s leave entitlement. Thereafter staff would then see a full day added to their entitlement, ahead of every new leave year. This is not our interpretation of what was agreed with COSLA  and we are now raising/seeking further clarity on this directly with COSLA.

We have attached guidance on universal credit in line with that issued last year – there is, unfortunately, little that can be done by either the employer or ourselves to mitigate the impact of this on universal credit arrangements as those are governed by HMRC rules, however, should this give you significant concern regarding the impact the pay settlement backdated pay may have on your universal credit we would advise that you contact HR/payroll directly to see what support/help can be given to mitigate any potential loss.

I n relation to the payment of SSSC fees backdated to April 2022 whilst we are also awaiting further information on when/how this will be implemented and how this will be paid/backdated to members we have since heard that the SSSC will be managing any backdated refunds and this process going forward. It is extremely frustrating and unacceptable that UNISON has had to hear this secondhand and has had no communication to date from COSLA regarding this. In the meantime, until you hear otherwise if you are due to pay SSSC fees you must pay them.

Once we have further information on any developments we will keep you updated at the soonest opportunity.

UNISON Scotland LG Pay

Stirling UNISON members not only met the ballot threshold but also demonstrated a massive strength of feeling  on the pay offer with close to 95 % voting to take industrial action if needed to gain an improved offer.

The UNISON Stirling Branch would like to thank all our members that were balloted and voted in the ballot giving us this mandate to fight for a fair pay deal for all Local Government Workers across Scotland.

Local Government workers in Scotland have been offered one of the worst public sector pay offers. This is unacceptable.

Local Government  workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland  have been made an offer of on average close to 5 %, which is a flat rate increase of  £1925 on all pay points, UNISON responded to that offer with  “it’s not enough to make up for a decade and more of lost wages.”

NHS workers in Scotland have been offered 5% and are being balloted with a UNISON recommendation to reject.

If you need to be reminded the pay offer in Scotland, 2%, saw the majority of the workforce being offered only £500.

UNISON Scotland LG committee and Branch secretaries will be meeting this week to discuss next steps.

Now we have a mandate for Industrial Action we will keep all members up to date going forward. We will be holding members meetings with members in those services taking action to discuss further detail. We will also be holding meetings with services not taking action and engaging them on how to support striking members that are taking action on their behalf.

Questions and answers about the ballot

Which groups are being balloted for strike action?

The membership groups that we have formally notified employers we will be balloting are all mem­bers employed working in schools, who provide services to the running and operation of the school, and all members working in early years and in waste and recycling services.

Why are only certain groups being balloted for action?

It is important to stress that this campaign is for all local government workers. The decision to only ballot certain groups of workers for strike action is tactical – to ensure we maximise the impact of our action on vital service areas likely to force the employers hand.

What is the deadline for returning my ballot paper?

We must receive your completed ballot paper by 10am on the 26th July 2022 so you need to get it in a post box a couple of days before this to make sure you meet the deadline.

What should I do if I misplace my ballot paper?

Call the ballot helpline on 0800 0 857 857. This Helpline will be open from 8am on 15th June 2022 to 12 noon on the 20th July 2022.

Why can’t I vote online?

Legislation governing industrial action stipulates that a formal industrial action ballot must be con­ducted by post.

Why should I vote for strike action?

• The failure to provide a meaningful increase to the Scottish Local Government Living Wage means that those on the lowest pay would still not reach a £10 per hour rate of pay never mind the £12 per hour called for in our claim.

• This offer is weighted towards those on the highest pay and will further exacerbate the issue of endemic low pay which plagues this sector.

• The offer fails to address many of the other issues outlined in our claim such as the need to allevi­ate the burden of paying professional fees for those on the lowest wages and achieving a no-det­riment reduction in the working week to address issues of work-life balance.

• UNISON would not ask you to take strike action unless it was absolutely necessary. We have ex­hausted all other options in terms of trying to get movement from your employers.

Will I get any financial support if I vote to take strike action?

Yes, all members taking strike action will be financially supported by UNISON. Further details will follow.

I am employed on multiple contracts with my local authority – am I being balloted to take strike action in all my roles?

You are only being balloted on your role as an employee working in a schools, for the purpose of pro­viding services to the running and operation of the school, or your work in early years or in waste and recycling services.

I’m not being balloted for strike action – what can I do to show my support for the campaign?

There are a number of things you can do to show support for the campaign and it is important that you do so colleagues included in the ballot know that you stand with them.

You can: https://join.unison.org.uk

You have been offered another pay cut and not a pay rise

Hi, I am Lorraine Thomson. I am a UNISON member, and I am the Branch Secretary for the UNISON Stirling Branch and the Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Education Issues Group.

Many services are still recovering and feeling the effects from the pandemic, Holyrood continues to underfund councils, and the failure to provide local government workers with an inflation busting pay rise in the midst of a cost of living crisis continues to put a strain on a largely overworked workforce.

In real terms you have been offered another pay cut and not a pay rise.

The services provided by council workers are what makes a decent society possible. They are not a drain on our society, but an achievement of our society.

UNISON members deserve a fair pay rise. Their fuel costs have went up. Their heating costs have went up. Their food costs have went up! The cost of everything has gone up. But their pay has not!

That is why we are asking members who work in Waste Services and Early Years and Schools to vote yes for strike action.

Your pay ballot should be hitting your doorstep now and it is in a blue envelope. You should return it as soon as possible.

The ballot is open until 29 July.

We need to show decision makers that we are serious about the cost of living crisis and what comes into our pay packets.

Vote yes for strike action.

Strike action is always a last resort, but local government workers are again being overlooked for a decent pay rise. Enough is enough!!

Vote Yes! Vote Now!

Having consistently worked above and beyond to keep our key services going over the past 2 years of the pandemic, and with the cost of living spiraling, COSLA’s offer of a 2% increase is nothing short of an insult.

Whilst politicians have raced to praise your efforts their warm words have not been matched by action.

Earlier this year we ran an online consultation to see what you and other local government members thought of the employers 2022 pay offer.  It was no surprise that the overwhelming majority of you voted to reject the offer and indicated your willingness to take action to achieve a better deal. 

Nothing has changed since then and we now need you to vote yes to take strike action to remind your employers exactly how you feel.

This offer is derisory.  It is less than the Scottish Public Sector Pay policy, falls far short of our pay claim and is significantly below current levels of inflation.  It will exacerbate the gap between those on the lowest and those on the highest rates of pay.  And it is in sharp contrast to the 5.2% increase that Councillors themselves have just received from 1st April 2022.

You are worth so much more!

Your vote is vital.  The employers aren’t going to rethink unless we stand firm together. Vote yes to strike action to remind your employers that you deserve better.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland Head of Local Government

Mark Ferguson, UNISON Scotland Chair of Local Government

Response from Kate Forbes to our request for a meeting

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, has responded to our request for a meeting with herself, the First Minister and COSLA to discuss LG finance and implications for pay – her response is attached for your information.  In short she has stated that she is not prepared to meet with us. You will be as appalled by this as we are.  We have issued the attached press release in response.

UNISON Scotland Media release

UNISON to ballot 25,000 school staff and waste and recycling workers for strike over pay tomorrow, after Kate Forbes refuses offer of last-ditch talks

UNISON will start an industrial action ballot tomorrow (Friday 10 June) for 25,000 local government workers in schools, early years, waste and recycling across Scotland. The ballot will take 7 weeks and will close on 26 July. 

UNISON are recommending the workforce vote yes to strike action as the only way left to move the employer’s position.  They intend to shut schools across Scotland when children return after the school summer break.

In a last-ditch attempt to avert industrial action processes UNISON wrote to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Minister of Finance Kate Forbes, on 1 June to ask that they meet with the trade unions to discuss the funding for local authorities to improve the pay offer.

Kate Forbes has written to UNISON today and said ‘it would not be appropriate to interfere in these negotiations, given their devolved nature’ and that ‘it is therefore for you to negotiate with COSLA and ‘respectfully declined the tripartite meeting being proposed by COSLA’.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government said: “Local government workers have been offered a miserly 2%.  With inflation at a 40 year high this goes nowhere near compensating them for the cost-of-living crisis or the loss in the value of their pay following real terms pay cuts over a decade of austerity. This comes on the back of the Scottish government announcing cuts to public services that Margaret Thatcher would be proud of, in their recent spending review.” “The fact they will not sit down with COSLA and the trade unions to try and find a solution is a kick in the teeth to all local government workers. They have forgotten already who was educating our children, cleaning our communities, caring for our vulnerable and burying our dead throughout the pandemic. Local government workers keep society running. We have no option left and will ballot 25,000 school, nursery and waste and recycling workers tomorrow.”