Pay 2010 - Unions call on ACAS to arbitrate

As previously reported, the Local Government Employers (LGE) decided to make no pay increase offer for 2010/11 in response to union claims for the greater of 2.5% or £500.

Talks with the LGE have stalled nationally, and they have given no indication they will abide by the Chancellor’s commitment of a £250 pay increase for all public sector workers earning less than £21,000, applying to 75% of NJC employees. The LGE has argued that the Chancellor’s comments do not apply to local government.

A further attack on local government pay has been indicated by the LGE’s decision to publish a document titled ‘Reducing Workforce Costs’, which includes advice to local authorities that encourages them to break the sector-wide collective agreement on terms and conditions known as the ‘Green Book’ and to negotiate locally to reduce pay and conditions. Sarah Messenger, the employer’s side secretary, is reported to have said the publication is not a matter for national negotiation and “ultimately, it is for LGE to decide what it publishes”.

The combination of these issues has prompted the three local government unions – UNISON, UNITE and GMB – to register a formal dispute with employers, which will be referred for arbitration to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). A circular detailing the complaint can be viewed on UNISON’s website here.

Proposals have been made to schedule a meeting between the trade union side and employers this week; however the LGE have indicated this should not be seen as a precursor to reopen negotiations on pay for 2010/11.  It is not clear how the arbitration process will move forward as the LGE has confirmed they do not intend to participate as they would not be prepared to commit themselves to the outcome, stating it may leave councils exposed to potential expenditure that they could not afford.

We will keep you informed of developments on this issue as they occur and welcome your views – email unison@norwich.gov.uk.