In light of the e-mail circulated to Bexley staff from the HR department today, we would like to clarify the status of NJC pay negotiations and explain why, as things stand, we are not in a position to call off the strike planned for Tuesday 14 October 2014.

UNISON’s local government negotiators recently sent UNISON Bexley branch an update on the latest position. It is worth highlighting the following key points which were not reflected in the HR message:

  • The new proposed offer is not at all good – it’s still well below inflation so is yet another real-terms pay cut, after years of even bigger real-terms pay cuts – but also not even as good as it has been made to appear. For instance:
    • It would give no pay rise at all for the period from April 2014 to January 2015 – just a small lump sum that is then not built upon by future pay rises.
    • The lump sum payment would equal less than 1% of current basic pay for all but those on the lowest points of the scale. Indeed, higher up the scale this is also true of the entire year’s additional pay including the lump sum and rise from January 2015.
  • The proposals are only that – proposals! They have not even been agreed by councils yet, and certainly aren’t a formal offer which UNISON’s procedures permit the union to consult members on. To suggest UNISON is denying members a say on something which simply isn’t a formal offer that could be consulted upon is very misleading.
  • UNISON have requested an urgent meeting with the employers (and of course the GMB and Unite) to negotiate further. There may still be time for the employers to make an improved formal offer that members could be consulted on, which could lead to the suspension of this (or any future) strike action. The strike is still on because the proposals are inadequate and are not in any case a formal offer.

Amid this, we mustn’t lose sight of the good news. Before the strike in July, the employers were saying there was no scope for an improved offer at all. Now another strike is looming we are seeing movement on the employers’ side. We only take strike action as a last resort, when negotiations have failed, but this shows why we strike: striking has made the employers concede there is room for manoeuvre. We hope to bring you further good news from the negotiations in due course.

– UNISON Bexley Branch