Report from branch AGM

On Wednesday this week, around 50 members came to the Council Chamber in City Hall to attend the 2009 branch annual general meeting. The branch was pleased to see so many members present and would like to thank those members for attending during a very sunny lunchtime.

AGM 2009

As well as the formal processes such as elections and accreditations of branch officers and stewards and reports of the branches activities and finances, items discussed included single status, pay claims for 2008 and 2009 and the council’s budget.

Scott Brinkley, branch chair, issued a ‘thank you’ to the branch committee members for their hard work during the year, including working with the council on the moderation process for single status, and also to all members who supported the strike action in July. The year was considered a successful and highly active one for the Norwich City Unison branch.

Kevin O’Grady, branch secretary, presented a report on single status covering the history of the attempts to reach agreement since 1997. This included Unison’s decision not to implement the 2007 proposal due to concerns about the proposed competency based pay scheme. The new evaluation process that started in 2008 has been far more cooperative so far, and the branch is pleased that the final pay system will not be competency based.

Everybody has worked hard, with moderation panels formed of equal union and management representation. The moderation process has finished, with the next stage being pay modelling and putting pounds to points. Members should find out soon the level of points their jobs have been awarded and where this level will sit on the proposed new pay scale.

The report on pay 2008/09 and 2009/10 was presented next. It was expressed that although the 2.75% final pay award for 2008/09 is 0.75% larger than the employers’ initial offer of 2%, it was disappointing that ACAS only increased the final offer of 2.45% by 0.3% following the strike action in July. Members may feel that this doesn’t cover the money lost by going on strike, but the strike action did make an impact and the additional 0.3% will be received for life, not just for one year. The report also queried whether we should have gone to ACAS before taking strike action.

The prospects for the 2009/10 pay claim in the current economic climate are less favourable then for last year, with rumours that no offer at all will be made by employers following the unions’ claim of at least the level of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation, especially as RPI was at 0.1% in January and likely to fall further. We will have to wait and see what materialises after the employers’ roadshows in April.

The issue of the budget was raised as ‘any other business’, with the branch secretary reporting that following the use of reserves and some cuts the budget position is relatively stable for 2008/09, but that it is likely that all councils will suffer further budget pressures for 2009/10. The branch and our members may need to prepare for some difficult decisions ahead, and the branch will continue to strongly support keeping directly employed jobs at the council.

Once again, we would like to thank members for their continued support during the year. If anybody has any feedback from the AGM on how to make improvements or any general comments on the branch’s performance over the year, please e-mail them to unison@norwich.gov.uk.