The campaign for a fair deal in 2018 and funding for the pay spine review begins now!

The NJC Committee agreed that all our efforts now need to go into campaigning for a positive outcome from the review of the pay spine and a decent offer in 2018. A further 1% pay offer for the majority in 2018/19 would not be acceptable. The Committee also felt that the review of the NJC pay spine, agreed as part of the 2016-2018 settlement, needs additional funding to ensure an outcome which is fair to all and tackles inequality in pay within the public sector. NJC pay is the lowest in the public sector, from the bottom to the top of the pay spine.

It was therefore agreed to start a campaign of political lobbying, which will call on branches and Regions to lobby councillors and MP’s for a fairer deal for school and council workers and for funding of the review of the pay spine. The union will also work to establish groups of parliamentary advocates within the English, Welsh and Northern Ireland parliaments to speak out for council and school workers and commission research to support a better deal for NJC workers in future.


LGA Rejects Additional UNISON NJC Pay Claim For 2017-18

The employers have rejected our claim for a flat rate increase of £1 an hour on all NJC pay points because:

 “The Employers are very clearly of the view that the NJC reached, in good faith, an agreement on pay on 16 May 2016 that covers the period to 31 March 2018”

Pay Bulletin   Employer response


Additional Pay Claim for 2017/18

The branch is consulting members on the question:

Do you agree with the proposal that the additional pay claim for 2017/18 should be for “A flat increase of £1 an hour on all NJC pay points?”

This arises from a resolution of the Local Government Service Group Conference which included an instruction to submit an additional NJC pay claim for 2017/18 and to commence the process of consulting with branches and members on the composition of this claim after Conference. This reopens year 2 of the 2016/18 two-year pay NJC settlement agreed last May.

The additional claim will be a UNISON claim only because the other two NJC unions do not support it. Both GMB and Unite’s National Committees have discussed UNISON’s proposal for an additional claim. In response they have both stated that, given the collective decision of NJC trade unions to accept the 2016/18 two year pay settlement, they will not support a further pay claim for 2017. The Local Government Association has also indicated that they will not consider a claim received from one NJC union only.

Branch consultation will conclude on 3 October 2016.


Review of the NJC Green Book Pay Spine

As part of the 2016-18 pay settlement, the NJC agreed to conduct a review of the NJC pay spine. The primary reason for this review is the introduction of the National Living Wage. The agreed Terms of Reference for the review are below.

NJC Pay Spine Review: Terms of Reference

The NJC needs to meet the challenge of ensuring that a restructured pay spine is capable of withstanding annual changes to the National Living Wage rate without the need for regular and fundamental reviews of pay structures. The spine is a valuable foundation on which individual councils build the detail of their local grading structures, which in themselves need adapting to new forms of service integration and devolution.

To take forward this review, the Joint Secretaries have set up a working group with the following aims:

To ensure the restructured NJC pay spine is capable of:

To ensure the NJC pay spine remains:

To ensure review outcomes:

Additional input:

To support the review, the Joint Secretaries will be advised by colleagues who have practical and technical expertise in the design and use of pay and grading structures

The Joint Secretaries do not underestimate the challenge they face in designing a restructured pay spine that is capable of withstanding annual changes to the National Living Wage rate (without the need for regular fundamental reviews) whilst retaining its current flexibility for local employers to apply local pay and grading structures. It is important to state from the outset that a restructured pay spine will not be possible without some additional cost for councils. However, both Sides will endeavour to achieve an outcome that is financially viable for employers and fair to employees.

Regular meetings have been scheduled for the foreseeable future and would aim to conclude the review by 30 June 2017. Both Sides will liaise with colleagues who have practical and technical expertise in the design and use of pay and grading structures and who will advise the Joint Secretaries during the review process.

Before any final agreement is reached, the proposed restructured pay spine will be subject to full consultation with councils and union members, and any updates will be shared with members.

As part of the pay settlement, the NJC also agreed a review of term time working. The NJC is still drawing up terms of reference and branches will be notified when they are agreed.


Pay rise delayed

The union’s NJC committee have accepted the 2 year pay offer for 2016 – 2018. As Unite have not yet accepted on behalf of their members, NCC cannot implement the pay offer in May’s salaries.

Local Government Pay Offer Accepted

Following a meeting of local government representatives from across UNISON, the union has decided today (Wednesday 27 April)) to accept the pay offer from the employers.

Head of local government Heather Wakefield said: “Having talked to members in local government across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we’ve decided that there are to be no further consultations and we have agreed to accept the employers’ pay offer for 2016/18.”

This follows the's National Committe'se recommendation to reject the offer and a ballot in which 64% voted to reject the offer. However, several regions had reported that they did not feel they could mobilise sufficient sustained industrial action. In the light of this the Committee agreed to withdraw the request for a formal industrial action ballot previously submitted to UNISON’s Industrial Action Committee. In doing so, the Committee recognised that the effect of this is to accept the Local Government Association pay offer for 2016/18.


Unions press for further pay talks

All three NJC trade unions have now completed their membership consultations on the LGA pay offer. UNISON and Unite now have a mandate to seek industrial action ballots. UNISON members voted by 64% to reject the offer and Unite members voted to reject by 87%. 90% of GMB members voted to accept.

Given the strength of our members’ feelings about the current offer, UNISON and Unite are pressing the Local Government Association (LGA) to put a revised, one-year offer on the table. In particular, we are calling for more certainty and firmer timetables for the proposed joint reviews of term time working and restructuring of the Green Book NJC/GLPC pay spines. We want these reviews completed within a year.

The Employers’ Side of the NJC is meeting on 1 April to consider our call for a revised offer. UNISON’s NJC Committee and the NJC Trade Union Side Executive will meet to consider any revised offer from the LGA on 5 April.

We want a clear NJC agreement on term-time working to deliver fair, consistent and transparent pay and conditions such as Bank Holidays, annual leave, maternity pay and sick pay. Where employees – mostly school staff - are put onto term-time contacts, there are many variations and inconsistencies in the formulas used for calculating and reducing pay from full year to a term-time figure.

And there is pressure on the employers to reach agreement. Over a third of the pay points on the current pay spine will fall below the Chancellor’s National Living Wage by 2020 and so will have to be deleted and a majority of councils are now paying the ‘real’ Living Wage. Employers want to start thinking now about how to manage this in terms of cost and impact on pay and grading structures. Pay differentials also need to be maintained to ensure equal pay for work of equal value and fairness. They are looking to the LGA to start joint work with the unions to revise the NJC and GLPC pay spines. We want clear commitments and timetables for this work.

Introduction of the National Living Wage

On 1 April, the statutory National Living Wage will be introduced at a rate of £7.20 per hour. The current bottom three pay points on the Green Book pay spine will fall below that statutory minimum level. The current hourly rate of SCP6 is £7.06 (£13,614); SCP7 is £7.11 (£13,715) and SCP8 is £7.19 (£13,871).

The LGA has advised councils to increase the pay of employees currently paid on SCPs 6, 7 and 8 in accordance with the National Living Wage with effect from 1 April. This new single pay point for those three scale points equates to £13,891 per annum, calculated by multiplying the National Living Wage rate of £7.20 by the local government standard working week of 37 hours and then multiplying by 52.143 weeks.


64% reject the pay offer

Following a meeting of the union’s NJC committee (the committee that negotiates our pay with the employer), where they reviewed all the indicative ballot results from across the country; they have made a decision to seek an increased offer from the employers. If no increase is offered, the committee will seek approval for a formal industrial action ballot on whether UNISON members across Local Government are prepared to take all out action in support of an improved pay offer.



Consultative ballot - branch results.

The branch secretary has collated the ballot results and sent them to the Regional Office.

Of the 4735 members eligible to vote, only 294 ballots were returned, approx. 6%. Of the 294 returns, 159 wished to accept the offer, whilst 135 rejected the offer and expressed various support for all out action, selected action and action short of strike action .

The Regional results for all Local Government branches in the Northern Region will be collated and considered, along with all the other Regions, by the NJC Committee at their meeting in March.


'Reject the offer', says the National Committee.

Local Government Branches have been asked to consult members on a final two year pay offer received from the Local Government Association.

The UNISON NJC Committee’s view is that the offer falls far short of what our members deserve and the employers can afford. The Committee is recommending Rejection of the offer.

The Local Government Employers Pay Offer 2016/18

      From 1 April 2016:

  • On SCP 6, £900 (equivalent to 6.6%)
  • On SCP 7, £900 (equivalent to 6.6%)
  • On SCP 8, £900 (equivalent to 6.5%)
  • On SCP 9, £900 (equivalent to 6.4%)
  • On SCP 10, £900 (equivalent to 6.3%)
  • On SCP 11, £300 (equivalent to 2.0%)
  • On SCP 12, £300 (equivalent to 2.0%)
  • On SCP 13, £250 (equivalent to 1.6%)
  • On SCP 14, £250 (equivalent to 1.5%)
  • On SCP 15, £200 (equivalent to 1.2%)
  • On SCP 16, £200 (equivalent to 1.2%)
  • On SCP 17, £175 (equivalent to 1.01%)
  • On SCPs 18 and above, 1.0%

      And from 1 April 2017

  • On SCP 6, £500 (equivalent to 3.4%)
  • On SCP 7, £500 (equivalent to 3.4%)
  • On SCP 8, £475 (equivalent to 3.2%)
  • On SCP 9, £400 (equivalent to 2.6%)
  • On SCP 10, £375 (equivalent to 2.5%)
  • On SCP 11, £300 (equivalent to 1.9%)
  • On SCP 12, £300 (equivalent to 1.9%)
  • On SCP 13, £300 (equivalent to 1.9%)
  • On SCP 14, £300 (equivalent to 1.8%)
  • On SCP 15, £300 (equivalent to 1.8%)
  • On SCP 16, £250 (equivalent to 1.5%)
  • On SCP 17, £225 (equivalent to 1.3%)
  • On SCPs 18 and above, 1.0%

Please note that the pay offer refers to NJC SCPs, which are pay points on the NJC pay spine. Employers have different grading structures. You should check with your branch how the NJC pay spine applies to your employer’s pay and grading structure. As part of this pay offer, the Local Government Employers have also agreed to a joint review of term-time working and an NJC approach to deliver fair, consistent and transparent contracts for school support staff.

The Branch has organised an initial set of pay meetings open to all members:

Monday 25th January – Council Chamber, Civic Centre 1.00 – 2.00pm

Thursday 28th January – Council chamber, Civic Centre 1.00 – 2.00pm

Friday 29th January – Council Chamber, Civic Centre 4.00 – 5.00pm

In addition, the Branch will organise meetings at Shieldfield, Condercum Depot and YHN House, dates and times will be provided as soon as possible.

Results of the consultation - The UNISON NJC Committee will consider the outcome of the consultation and decide its course of action based on all the responses to the consultation at its meeting on 23 February 2016.


Employers make a 2-Year Offer

At NJC pay negotiations held on 9 December 2015, the Local Government Association (LGA) made school and council workers the following two-year final pay offer:

From 1 April 2016:

And from 1 April 2017:

As part of the pay offer, the LGA agreed to UNISON’s call for fair treatment for school support staff through a joint review of term-time working. However, they were not prepared to meet the other element of our claim, calling for the retention and protection of Part 2 conditions.

What does the offer mean? - During the further negotiations held on 10th December, the Trade Union Side put forward counter proposals for a two-year offer similar to the recent Scottish local government two year pay settlement. We called for deletion of SCPs below the UK Living Wage and for those on SCPs above – 1.5% in year 1 and 1% in year 2. The LGA took these proposals away but then refused to move from their final offer, claiming that they were unable to move from a 1% increase in each year for those above scp 18.

The NJC trade unions expressed their disappointment at the LGA’s refusal to consider our counter proposal but believe the pay offer is the best achievable by negotiation and have agreed to consult our members on it. UNISON, GMB and Unite are now meeting separately in early January to decide their position on the offer and to agree their union’s consultation process.


Employers refuse to consider a new claim for 2015/16

The additional re-opened UNISON pay claim for NJC workers for 2015/16 was submitted to the employers on 22 April 2015. It demanded that the full-time equivalent Living Wage should be the new minimum, and an equivalent flat rate increase for all scale points. The Employers responded stating that they would not consider this new pay claim.

The NJC Committee considered this at their meeting on 12 May, along with the results of the consultation of members on the content 2016/17 pay claim. The NJC Committee agreed to refuse to accept the Employers’ response to our 2015/16 claim and to merge the 2015/16 campaign into the 2016/17 pay campaign.

The new claim to be put to the NJC joint union side to be:

Pay Briefing, June 2015


Additional NJC pay claim submitted

Following March's special local government conference, UNISON has submitted an additional 2015-16 pay claim to the Local Government Employers.

The claim, for workers covered by National Joint Council for Local Government Services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (NJC), is for:


Proposed Pay Claim 2016/17

Deletion of NJC pay points which fall below the level of the Living Wage - £7.88 per hour (scp 6-10) - and a flat rate increase of £1 per hour on all other pay points.

The impact of the pay proposal on existing spinal column points.

UNISON’s National Joint Council (NJC) members have met to consider a pay claim effective from April 2016 and wish to consult members on their views.

In order to give you a chance to present your views, the Branch has organised a series of pay consultation meetings at the Civic Centre, Newcastle.

For those of you who work outside the Civic Centre, the Branch will be arranging workplace visits around the same timeframe as above, or you can respond via email.

If you respond by email, please indicate whether you support the proposed claim or not. If you do not support the proposed claim, please let the Branch know what your alternative claim would be?

The Branch has to send our consultation response to the Regional Office by 5pm on Friday 24 April, so could you please send your responses to the Branch by no later than 5.00 pm on Thursday 23 April.


Re-open the 2014-16 NJC Pay Negotiations

UNISON's National Local Government Service Group Executive (SGE) will be considering how to implement the resolutions of a Special Local Government Conference which called for further negotiations on the 2014-2016 pay agreement. The Conference on 24 March instructed UNISON's negotiators to formally submit an additional NJC pay claim for 2015/16.

Conference report


Local Government members vote to accept pay offer

Members of all three local government unions have voted to accept the pay offer put forward by the Local Government Association.

The proposals cover the period from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2016.

All three unions have made it clear that they will continue to campaign for fair pay and conditions for local government and school workers, strengthen the collective bargaining machinery covering local government and schools and move quickly to jointly tackle other important issues facing their members with the Local Government Association.

UNISON Head of Local Government Heather Wakefield said:

"Members covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government have the lowest pay in the public sector and have suffered significant attacks on their conditions of work in recent years. We will continue to campaign for the Living Wage to become the minimum rate of pay in local government and for a commensurate increase for all other NJC employees, to reflect the invaluable work that our members do to keep vital local services running."

Read more


Branch votes to accept pay offer

Members of this branch have voted by 942 votes to 189 to accept the employers pay offer.

The ballot numbers represent around 23% of those balloted.

These results have been submitted to the regional office and will be combined with the other Local Government branches across the region, and then included in the national responses. The union’s NJC committee will meet this Friday to consider the consultative ballot results.


Frequently asked questions

The branch secretary has provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the proposals and what they mean to different groups of workers. They also cover some aspects of the negotiations, the industrial action and the conduct of the consultation and ballot.

Local government NJC pay proposals 2014-16, Frequently Asked Questions


NJC14 Pay Consultation

By post or by email this week members will receive a copy of the branch bulletin “Outlines”, a pay consultation ballot paper and a copy of the current NCC and YHN pay scales. The branch bulletin shows the detail of the employer’s latest pay proposals including a table showing the effect on each spinal column point,  and UNISON, GMB and UNITE members are all being consulted on these proposals in a similar way.

Please ensure that you return your completed ballot paper to the UNISON Branch office, by email or in person, by 12.00 noon on Tuesday 11th November 2014.

Any member or group of members that would like to speak to a branch officer about the employer’s proposals should contact the branch office and we’ll arrange to see you.

Branch Secretary's covering letter


Time for members to decide

The Local Government Association (LGA) Employers have made the following pay proposals:

Local government NJC pay proposals 2014-16, Frequently Asked Questions

Status of the Proposals

The proposals have the agreement of all political groups on the LGA and now need the approval of councils for them to become a formal offer from the employers.

UNISON, GMB and Unite have agreed to suspend our industrial action and consult members over the proposals whilst the LGA consults councils.

An NJC Joint Circular on the pay consultation arrangements is attached together with indicative scales setting out the impact of the proposals on each scale point.

The UNISON NJC Committee has agreed to hold a formal consultation on the Employers’ proposals for 2014/16 under the Service Group Pay Consultation Procedures.

UNISON’s NJC Committee’s views on the proposals

The UNISON NJC Committee’s view is that the employers’ pay proposals for 2014/16 fall far below the aspirations in our 2014/15 pay claim and what members deserve. However, the Committee believes it is the best achievable by negotiation and that only sustained all out strike action could achieve an improved pay offer.

Branches are asked to consult members on this basis, using the consultation question enclosed and the UNISON NJC Committee will be meeting on Friday 14 November to consider the results of the consultation.

The NJC Trade Unions

GMB and Unite are also consulting their members on the basis that the proposals are the best achievable by negotiation.


Pay proposals for consultation

You will find a link to the latest pay proposals on UNISON's national website.

Have your say - local government members urged



Strike suspended

The strike proposed for next Tuesday 14 October has been called off pending consultation on a formal offer from the employers with union members. No details of the offer have been shared with the Branch, but we will share those with you as soon as we can.

UNISON's press release



Strike on Tuesday 14 October.

Latest on LGA proposals

The NJC joint secretaries met on Thursday 2 October following UNISON's earlier rejection of the pay proposals.

UNISON pushed hard for the Local Government Association (LGA) to recognise the importance of an improved offer for our members, and the response was fairly positive, though no further proposals were tabled.

The joint secretaries' meeting was followed by a separate meeting between the employers' side, the LGA regional directors and senior elected members.

UNISON understands that our call for improved proposals was not rejected and that further discussions are now taking place between LGA political group leaders.

We are awaiting the outcome of those discussions and will obviously let members know as soon as there any developments - positive or otherwise.

See 'Outlines, October 2014' for more about the negotiations and the plans fpr the strike day.



July strike brings employers to the negotiating table

Prior to the industrial action taken on 10 July, the employers had refused all attempts to negotiate on the offer they made on 20 March.

Because of the industrial action, the employers have met regularly with the joint union negotiators to attempt to resolve the pay dispute without the need for further action planned for 14 October.

It is clear that the action taken on 10 July has proved the catalyst for getting the employers to the negotiating table.

However, the employers have now tabled not an 'offer' but a 'proposal' which:-

Now is the time to increase pressure on the employers by continuing to prepare for further industrial action on 14 October.

Read about the employers proposal and UNISON's response.



Employers proposals rejected.

The employers side have tabled a proposal but not a formal offer. They cannot make a formal offer until the proposal has been approved by the local employers they represent. Nevertheless, they have asked the unions to suspend the action planned for 14 October while they seek approval from councils to make a formal offer.

The response from our negotiators is:

“In light of the absence of a formal offer being made by the employers, who have instead chosen to share a set of pay proposals that procedurally under Conference policy we cannot consult on and which appear extremely limited in terms of benefits to our members, the UNISON NJC Committee rejects these proposals and declines the employers’ request to suspend industrial action at this time. The NJC Committee has agreed to share these proposals so that members could also be properly informed.
The NJC Committee agreed to continue to explore alternative proposals”.

The proposal:

In addition, scale point 5 would be removed from 1 October 2015, to make the bottom rate £7.06 pence an hour. 

UNISON’s NJC committee decided to:

What happens next?

UNISON has informed the LGA of UNISON’s decision and have requested an urgent meeting with the three unions, which will take place this week, to discuss a further improved offer.

What the employers proposals would mean for you. Spinal column chart.


The effect of the strike in July

Prior to the industrial action taken on 10th July, the employers had refused all attempts to negotiate on the offer they made on 20 March.

Because of the industrial action, the employers have met regularly with the joint union negotiators to attempt to resolve the pay dispute without the need for further action planned for 14 October.

It is clear that the action taken on 10 July has proved the catalyst for getting the employers to the negotiating table.

It is also clesar that the employers proposal:-

Now is the time to increase pressure on the employers by continuing to prepare for further industrial action on 14 October.


Pay Claim – Day of Protest 20th August

UNISON is organising a Day of Protest in support of our NJC14 Pay Campaign

The Branch is petitioning Cllr. Forbes to get behind his staff and follow the lead of the South Tyneside Council Leader and write to the LGA in support of ending the pay dispute. To support this call, the Branch is asking members and non-members to come to our stall on the Ceremonial Way, Civic Centre, and sign our petition on 20th August, between 11.30 – 2.00 pm. If you’re not based at the Civic or you can’t make the stall, seek out your local shop steward who’ll have copies of the petition to sign, or contact the Branch and we’ll send you a copy for you and your colleagues to sign.

UNISON is also pointing out that Local Government staff are “Locked Out of the Recovery”

It is essential that UNISON members and Council staff send a message to our employer that they must influence the conduct of the national employers representatives. UNISON wants to negotiate and end to the pay dispute, it is the employers who have refused to discuss their offer and our claim. It’s not too late to start!



Strike date changed to Tuesday 14 October

UNISON has decided to change the date for the next round of strike action relating to NJC Pay 2014 in order to coordinate the action with GMB and UNITE

Unions representing over a million local government workers – GMB, UNISON and Unite – have agreed to escalate their dispute over pay with a campaign running into the autumn.

The three unions have agreed that their members will run a co-ordinated strike of their local government and school members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Tuesday 14 October.

The strike will be just a few days before the TUC organised national demonstration on 18 October calling for decent pay.

Local government workers have suffered three years of a pay freeze, followed by a below inflation pay deal and have now been offered a paltry 1%.  They have seen their pay reduced in value by 20% since 2010. This resulted in a one day strike on 10 July.

No further talks have taken place since that date, despite the unions offering to go to the Government’s arbitration and conciliation service.

UNISON Head of Local Government, Heather Wakefield, said:

“Employers and Government must be left in no doubt that we are serious in this dispute.  As sister unions, we stand together to make sure that our members are treated with decency and respect. Our members cannot afford to carry on propping up local services through their pay packets.  Many are low paid women who are being forced to resort to food banks and payday loan sharks just to survive.  We need to put the heart back into local government by paying a living wage.”


National demonstration: Britain needs a pay rise

Saturday 18 October

11.00 am


People are currently facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since Victorian times, and wages have fallen in real terms every year since 2010. We believe that as growth returns to the UK economy, everyone should get a fairer share in the recovery. The time has come for Britain to get a pay rise. UNISON is organising for a large turn-out at the national demonstration in London on 18 October.

The march will assemble from 11am on the Embankment near Blackfriars. It will then depart at noon, and march via Northumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly to Hyde Park for a rally.

This is a slightly shorter route that previous marches, and it's hoped that this will allow more people to get to Hyde Park in time for more of the rally content. This will mean that the march does not pass Westminster or Downing Street.

The Branch is arranging to purchase a number of return train tickets for the 18th October march and rally, There will be a charge of £10 per adult and £5 per child (16 and under), and at least one member of the group should be a UNISON member.

if you want to attend, please contact the Branch office.


Local government and school support workers to strike again

UNISON’s  NJC committee met this week and decided to recommend a further day’s strike action on Tuesday 30th September.

The announcement follows the strike on 10 July, which saw around a million public service workers walk out in an increasingly bitter dispute over pay.

Read more

UNISON members working in the NHS are being balloted for action.

Meat hygiene inspectors to be balloted for strike action.



Paul Gilroy, Branch Secretary, has extended his thanks to the vast majority of UNISON members and non-union members, who supported the strike on 10 July.

Newcastle City Branch believes that increasing public sector pay is affordable and would benefit the whole economy, and the Government's insistence that our members should continue to suffer in the name of austerity isn’t fair or sustainable.

We won’t give up or give in! We’re worth a lot more.

Read more in the branch newsletter, Outlines, July 2014.



Taking the fair pay fight onto the streets

UNISON has hailed Thursday's strike action by local government and school support workers as an overwhelming success, with more than one million public service workers on picket lines and at rallies in protest over this year's pay offer. 

Reports in the media spoke of the largest strike in years, with a million people out on the streets.

And general secretary Dave Prentis called on the employers to come back to the negotiating table. 

"We are repeating our calls for the local government employers to get back round the table and negotiate a decent pay offer for those workers who have endured four years of pay freezes and below-inflation pay offers as a result of the government’s misguided austerity agenda," he said.

Read more

Watch our film about the strike on YouTube



The strike - a time for celebration

The case to walk out is unanswerable, but will be eclipsed by outrage from a media utterly opposed to trade unions.

Trade unions are Britain's biggest democratic movement, representing 6.5 million workers – more than nine times the combined membership of the main political parties – and yet they are treated by the media as though they have almost no legitimate place in public life.

Come Thursday, hundreds of thousands will sacrifice a day's pay to take a stand. They will be ignored or demonised as they do so. But they should remember that they are not just speaking for themselves, but for the millions expected to pay for a crisis caused by the vested interests who fund the Tories. Who knows – they may give courage and inspiration to others to get off their knees, too.

Read the full article by Owen Jones, The Guardian, Sunday 6 July

Read the facts behind our strike



All Out On 10 July!

As the branch prepares for a one-day all-out strike the Branch Secretary has called on every member to work very hard to deliver a massive turnout and support the action. Only a huge display of strength will get the employers back to the bargaining table – with or without ACAS.


March and rally

11 am: Assemble, Northumberland Road, next to City Hall

11.30 am: March to the Blue Carpet, New Bridge Street

12.00 noon – Speakers:

Route of March  Poster



Union membership is about being part of a collective that is stronger together, where members abide by democratically reached decisions, where an injury to one is an injury to all.

It is no surprise that terms and conditions are better in unionised workplaces, where employers have to negotiate with the employee’s union representatives.

In the branch newsletter, Outlines July 2014, you will find some of the benefits that UNISON has delivered both in our branch and nationally.

You will also find 'Seven reasons why our pay claim is fair and just'.

Show them to any non-members in your workplace and make sure they understand that without UNISON their jobs and working conditions would be at greater risk and that any decent pay increase will only be achieved through the  actions that you and your fellow union members are prepared to take.

There is a UNISON application form on the back of the newsletter.



Picketing will take place at the following locations, and other locations as determined by the Branch Strike Committee.

Please come along and show your support. Any member who wishes to help with picketing should contact the Branch Office.



There will also be a social in the Labour Club, Leazes Park Road, 1.00 – 4.00pm, Buffet from 2.00 pm.


Also in 'Outlines' ...

Outlines, July 2014



JUNE 2014


UNISON members vote to strike against low pay

UNISON is preparing for a one day strike on 10 July alongside our sister unions in the public sector.

UNISON’s local government and school support workers have voted yes to strike action in a dispute over pay.  The low paid, mainly women, workers have faced a 3 year pay freeze and have now been offered a 1% pay rise. The lowest are paid just above the statutory national minimum wage and did not even receive the £250 that Chancellor George Osborne promised they would get two years running.

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

“These workers care for our elderly, clean our streets, feed and educate our school children and keep our libraries running, but they receive no recognition in their pay packets.  They are mainly low paid women workers, stressed and demoralised, and they deserve better from their employers and from this Government.  This is the group that has borne the brunt of the Government’s austerity agenda. We will now be discussing next steps.  But we call on the employers to get back into talks to agree a fair deal for local government and school support workers”.

The result of the ballot is as follows:

Question: Are you prepared to take part in a strike?

The union’s national committee will now be meeting to decide next steps.

The Branch will be meeting to discuss preparation for the one day all out strike on 10 July and will be communicating regularly with members over the next few weeks.


NUT Strike action - 10 July

The National Union of Teachers will be taking action in England and Wales on 10 July alongside other unions. Along with Unison, GMB and Unite are planning to call upon members working in local government and education to take strike action on the same day.

Read more


You Are Better Off in the Union

Recruit a new UNISON member and vote 'Yes' in the Pay ballot. We will all be better off for it.

According to government statistics union membership In the public sector fell to 3.8 million in 2013 from 3.9 million in 2012.

However, the statistics also reveal that the trade union wage premium, defined as the percentage difference in average gross hourly earnings of union members compared with non-members, is much greater for public sector employers (19.8 per cent) than those in the private sector (7.0 per cent).

Trade union members in both the public and private sectors saw a rise in their average hourly earnings between 2012 and 2013. Private sector non-members saw a broad stagnation in their average hourly earnings over the same period, while public sector non-members experienced a reduction. Subsequently, the overall gap between member and non-member average hourly earnings increased between 2012 and 2013.

Trade union membership 2013: Statistical Bulletin

MAY 2014


Strike Ballot opens on Friday 23 May

The result from our branch in the consultative pay ballot on what to do with the employers offer was:  REJECT:  632   ACCEPT: 258.

This was fed into the regional response and then collated nationally, UNISON published a result indicating 70% of those voting in the consultative ballot, were in favour of rejecting the employer’s offer; hence the union is going ahead with a formal industrial action ballot from this Friday, 23 May.

UNISON members will be asked to vote in favour of taking strike action in July (10th), and a further 2 days in September, in a concerted effort to show the Local Government employers that we mean business and that UNISON members will not accept a pay offer that does nothing to begin restoring the 20% real loss in NJC pay value since 2010 and the effect falling pay has on members’ future pensions.

Read more in 'Outlines'


NJC Pay Bulletin 28

This bulletin includes model letters for you to adapt and send to your councillors, MP and prospective MEP ahead of the coming election.


UNISON Survey – tell us about the impact of falling pay and rising prices on you

We want everyone working in councils and schools to tell us about the impact falling pay and rising prices have had on them. 

Please complete this short on line survey and circulate the link to your workmates – members and non-members.  Use it for recruitment.  It takes a few minutes to complete and responses are completely confidential.


Sign our petition

Since 2010, local government workers and school support staff have seen the value of their pay drop by 18%. Many rely on benefits and tax credits to make ends meet. This doesn't need to be the case if they were paid a decent wage for the important work they do.

Sign our petition calling on the employers to make an improved offer

Share the link with your friends and family and ask them to sign the petition too.

APRIL 2014


Pay consultation

The employers have responded to UNISON’s pay claim and the union is requesting your response, with a recommendation to reject the offer.

At this stage, you are not committing to any strike action, only an official ballot can do that. The results of this consultative ballot will indicate whether a formal industrial action ballot is required.


At the meeting of the NJC Executive held on 20 March 2014, the Local Government Association (LGA) Employers made the following final pay offer:

Offer New Hourly Rate
£580 on pay point 5 £6.75
£550 on pay point 6 £6.82
£400 on pay point 7 £6.90
£275 on pay point 8 £7.05
£200 on pay point 9 £7.22
£175 on pay point 10 £7.35
1.0% on pay points 11 and above

Why UNISON is Recommending Rejection of the Employer’s Offer

The UNISON NJC Committee is clear the Employers' below-inflation final pay offer falls woefully below the aspirations in our 2014-15 pay claim and what our members deserve. It does nothing to begin restoring the 20% real loss in NJC pay value since 2010 and the effect falling pay has on members’ future pensions. It means yet another year with a further pay cut for the vast majority of our members. It leaves half a million NJC members below the Living Wage and the lowest paid 50,000 just 30p above the National Minimum Wage.

The UNISON NJC Committee strongly recommends this meagre final offer is REJECTED and that we move to an official industrial action ballot in support of the claim on behalf of those employed on NJC terms. The Committee urges all members to support the recommendation in this consultation.

All members whose email addresses we have will receive a ballot paper by email; we ask that members return their ballot asap in one of the following ways:

Boxes in place from 1st April until 12.00 noon 16th April

Pay Meetings

Pay Visits

MARCH 2014


UNISON 'ratchets up the political pressure' on LGA

Local government employers have brought forward their meeting to discuss the union pay claim, by six weeks, to 20 March.

UNISON is urging branches and members to "ratchet up the political pressure" on the LGA, by lobbying MPs and councillors.

"We think the LGA's attitude to the local government workforce is now at an all-time low," said UNISON national secretary for local government Heather Wakefield.

Ms Wakefield said that UNISON understood that the pay claim comes at a time of unprecedented cuts in local government funding by central government.

"However, there are political choices that can be made. Since 2010, the local government pay bill has been reduced by 25% and council reserves have increased to £19 billion. We are told large reserves are needed for investment - some of this must be for investment in staff."

Read more


NJC trade union side statement

The NJC trade union side met on Wednesday 26 February to discuss the failure of the employers to make an offer, the likelihood of any offer being 1% and the link to the national minimum wage.

Following discussion, the following statement was unanimously agreed:

"This NJC Trade Union Side:

In light of the above, the NJC trade union side believes industrial action looks inevitable and we are preparing accordingly."

UNISON's NJC Committee has agreed o consult members if we have not received an offer by 1 April.

NJC Pay Bulletin 17


UNISON slams Local Government Employers for denying pay offer

UNISON has slammed a decision by the Local Government Employers to deny a pay offer to 1.6 million local government and school support workers.

Unions – led by UNISON, the UK’s largest public service union - were due to meet the Local Government Employers on Friday 14 February to receive a response to their pay claim for a £1.20 an hour increase.

This increase would give the Living Wage to 500,000 workers who currently earn less than the current rate of £7.65 pence an hour. It would start to restore the 18% real terms decline in pay faced by school and council workers since the Coalition took office in 2010.

The Local Government Employers are claiming they will not make an offer until the Government announces the new National Minimum Wage rate, expected in May. The National Minimum Wage is currently £6.31 an hour,  just 14 pence below the lowest pay rate of £6.45 for workers covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services (NJC).

Heather Wakefield, UNISON Head of Local Government, said:

“The employers’ attitude to our members providing vital local services and supporting children in schools has reached an all-time low.

"Using the National Minimum Wage as an explicit benchmark for our members’ pay for the first time ever, shows just how little the employers and the Government value their amazing contribution to local communities and children in schools. It also shows their disdain for women workers who make up more than three quarters of the workforce.

"School support staff, library assistants, care workers, clerical assistants and cleaners now find themselves regarded as the lowest skilled and lowest valued in the labour market. It’s a shameful culmination of years of neglect of workers who keep our communities clean and safe, care for our elderly and help our children learn.

"This shoddy treatment has to end once and for all. The Government needs to put its money where its mouth is, end low pay in schools and councils and stop the unnecessary cuts to council funding."

On top of an 18% decline in basic pay, local government workers have faced many additional cuts to pay-related conditions at local level, including unsocial hours payments, hours of work, annual leave, sick pay and even maternity pay. Car allowances have been frozen for three years, leaving social workers and home care workers to subsidise their employers in order to do their jobs. 55% of the cost of a £1.20 an hour pay increase would pay for itself through increased tax and National Insurance ‘take’, which could be recycled to councils and schools.

Why the pay claim is affordable

Are we worth a living wage?

Local Government Employers were due to respond to our pay claim on Friday, 14 February but it didn't happen.

What are they waiting for?

They say they will not make an offer until the Government announces the new National Minimum Wage rate, expected in May.

The National Minimum Wage is currently £6.31 an hour,  just 14 pence below the lowest pay rate of £6.45 for workers covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services (NJC).

Using the National Minimum Wage as an explicit benchmark for our members’ pay for the first time ever, shows just how little the employers and the Government value the work that you do.


UNISON writes to chancellor over minimum wage proposal

UNISON national secretary for local government Heather Wakefield has written to chancellor George Osborne in response to his call for the adult national minimum wage to be increased from £6.31 to £7 an hour.

UNISON believes that the national minimum wage should be increased to a level on which people can live and would support such an increase.

However, Ms Wakefield points out that Mr Osborne has also imposed a 1% pay limit on public sector pay. Workers on the bottom NJC rate would need an 8.5% increase to raise their pay from £6.45 to £7 an hour.

In her letter, Ms Wakefield asks the Chancellor to recognise that over 120,000 local government workers would need such an increase and asks him to make sure that funds are available.

Letter from UNISON national secretary for local government Heather Wakefield to chancellor George Osborne 


Reports show the gulf between debt and dividends

Capita Asset Services declared on Monday that shareholders should get ready for a record payout in 2014 - £101bn is heading their way in predicted dividend payments. That's a bumper 27% increase on the 2013 payout.

In contrast, the next day the VocaLink Take Home Pay index revealed the changes in the value of wages over the last year. The take home pay of the average public sector employee has fallen by 1.8%, ratcheting up the pain for staff who have already seen the value of their pay packet cut by up to 16% since 2010.

At the launch of Debt Awareness Week on Monday. The StepChange Debt Charity revealed that 15 million people in Britain are showing some sign of "problem debt." That means that 31% of the total adult population are juggling or falling behind on essential household bills, borrowing to make it through to pay day, making just the minimum repayments on their debts, borrowing more to pay off existing debts or getting hit by late payments or overdraft charges.

Read more


‘Fatcat Wednesday’ for FTSE 100 CEOs

Earnings for company executives returning to work on Monday 6 January passed the UK average salary of £26,500 by mid-morning on Wednesday 8 January.

According to calculations by the High Pay Centre think-tank Britain’s top bosses make more money in a couple of days than the average UK worker earns in an entire year.

Read more


Low average earnings growth hits workers

Growth in earnings now appears to be hovering around the 1% mark, while inflation has been running at 2.6%, which spells bad news for workers’ living standards.

In the year to October 2013 average earnings increased by 0.5% in the public sector. This compares with 1.9% in manufacturing, 1.0% in services and 1.4% in the private sector.

None of these averages comes close to matching inflation but it seems clear that the living standards of public sector workers are falling faster than most.

You might have guessed that already but the statistics that confirm it are published by the National Office for Statistics and reported in Labour Research FACT Bulletin Issue 50, 19 December 2013.



Lobby the Employer’s Annual Pay Road Show

9.30 am, Wednesday 15 January 2014

Gateshead Civic Centre

The employer’s annual pay road show for our Region is to be held on Wednesday 15 January 2014, at 10.30am at Gateshead Civic Centre. The last regional service group executive meeting agreed to lobby this meeting.

Please let the Branch know if you’re willing to attend the lobby to try and engage Councillors on our pay claim.


Strike A Chord for Local Government Pay

Pay Bulletin No 8 called on branches arrange a carol singing session for members where UNISON's words would be sung to traditional tunes.

Some posted their performance on UNISON's Facebook page, including South Tyneside branch who did very well in competition with a rather fresh breeze.

This bulletin also reafirms that our claim is affordable and includes some guidance on organising the campaign.


Why the local government pay claim is affordable

Our claim for ‘a minimum of £1 an hour’ for all local government workers is affordable.

Local government employers would only have to meet 45% of the cost if savings by the Treasury from our claim were recycled to local government. That’s without using any reserves, cutting spending on expensive consultants and agency workers - and without taking healthier school budgets into account. Added together, these sources of funding make our claim reasonable and the way to go!

Make sure you share this with your councillors and MPs.

Our claim

To reach the Living Wage of £7.65 pence an hour for the lowest paid, we would now need an increase of £1.20 an hour. We want this for all local government workers - to start to restore the 18% of the pay they have lost since the Coalition took office.

When anyone tells you that is simply not affordable you can explain to them that much of our claim could pay for itself. Read more in Pay Bulletin No 7.


Maintaining the Momentum

Pay Bulletin 6 is full of campaigning ideas and resources for activists to promote and publicise the pay campaign.

You can even download some pay campaign songs to sing to traditional carol tunes at 'Strike a chord for local government pay'

Seven reasons why our pay claim is fair and just

Unions agree joint pay campaign

The Joint NJC Trade Union Side has unanimously agreed the NJC pay claim for 2014-15. The claim, which will be submitted early next week to the Local Government Employers, will be for:

“ A minimum increase of £1 an hour on scale point 5 to achieve the Living Wage and the same flat rate increase on all other scale points”.

There was welcome unanimity on the Trade Union Side about the need for a joint and high profile campaign which challenges the austerity myth and gives our members confidence to pursue our objectives. It was noted that the Living Wage is currently 2 pence an hour below the official poverty line of £7.47 pence an hour and is a modest wage.

Why does pay matter?


Low turnout selects pay claim option 2.

The Branch undertook a consultative ballot regarding our prospective pay claim for 2014. Members were asked to decide between option 1 and 2 as shown below:

The branch emailed 3356 members, and sent copies by post to 1674 members. We received 815 email responses from members, and 119 postal responses were returned.

The percentage response was 19%.

Thanks to all the members who voted, we have shared the results with the Regional Office.


The Living Wage Movement in the UK

Wednesday 6th November 2013, 16:00-18:00

Newcastle University’s Research Beehive, Old Library Building, Room 2.21/2.22

Jane Wills and colleagues have pioneered research and activism around the living wage in the UK.

As part of Living Wage Week, Jane will deliver a lecture whch will engage the theory, practice and politics of the living wage movement and its progress in the UK.

Details and registration at:


2014 Pay Claim

Discuss the details of next year's claim at one of the meetings arranged by the branch over the next few weeks.

It's your living standards at stake so don't leave it to others to decide for you.

Schedule of Meetings

CIVIC CENTRE – Council Chamber
Tuesday 3rd September                12.00pm – 1.00pm and 5.00pm – 6.00pm          
Friday 13th September                 12.00pm – 1.00pm and 5.00pm – 6.00pm      

Wednesday 4th September          12.00pm – 1.00pm
Thursday 5th September              12.00pm – 1.00pm

Tuesday 10th September            12.00pm – 1.00pm

Tuesday 24th September              6.30am and 8.30am           

Wednesday 25th September        6.30am and 8.30am           

Wednesday 25th September        12.30pm

UNISON is calling time on poverty pay in local government

National Committee options for 2014 pay claim.


Spending review - block on incremental pay progression

“The Chancellor has demonstrated yet again, that he has no idea how pay progression works in practice” said Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, following the Spending Review.

And he accused the Chancellor of making Local Government the whipping boy of the Tory party saying  “How can he squeeze more out of council workers when three quarters now earn less than £21,000 as a result of the Government’s three-year pay freeze?”

“Is it any wonder that the economy is floundering when the Chancellor has cut 400,000 public service workers and taken so much spending power away from the rest? Public service workers spend the vast majority of their wages in local shops and businesses.  By contrast the big city bonuses and dividends drain money away from the UK to all parts of the globe.”

Read more


UNISON accepts NJC pay offer but vows "enough is enough"

Following a ballot of members UNISON's NJC Committee voted to accept the employers' pay offer, while noting that it was completely insulting and did not come anywhere near our aspirations.

In the ballot 59% of members voting accepted the offer – with 41% rejecting it. However, 78% of branches voted to accept the offer.

The turnout was 12.43%, down from 16.56% in 2009.

The Committee agree that we should maintain a high profile campaign from now on with a view to a better offer next year and building towards industrial action next year in the event that the offer in 2014 is not acceptable.

Read more


The Consultation Process

Pay Bulletin no 12 deals with the consultation process but also notes that neither GMB or UNITE are asking their members whether they are prepared to take industrial action. A search for 'Local Government' on  the GMB and Unite national websites sheds no light on those unions' attitudes to the employers offer.

UNISON has produced a stewards’ PowerPoint presentation which explains the offer in full, what the offer means for members and the position the UNISON NJC Committee has taken on the offer. It is posted on UNISON's national Pay Matters campaign web page and on the UNISON in Local Government facebook page.

The presentation slides are available here in PDF format.

The slides refer to 'Living on the Edge: Pay in Local Government', a report by the New Policy Institute for UNISON which was published in February 2012.


Consultation with members

Pay Bulletin no 11 is mostly concerned with the management of the consultation and the pros and cons of online ballots and surveys in this process.

UNISON's NJC Committee has set out its views on the pay offer in a leaflet for members which is currently being printed.


UNISON’s NJC Committee’s Views on the offer

The UNISON NJC Committee’s view is that the employers' below-inflation pay offer falls far below the aspirations in our 2013-14 pay claim and what our members deserve. It means a further pay cut for our members after a three-year pay freeze.

However, the Committee also believes that it is the best offer achievable by negotiation and that only sustained, all-out strike action can achieve an improved pay offer.

Branches will consult members on that basis and the Committee will be meeting on Thursday 13 June 2013 to consider the results of the consultation.

Pay Bulletin no 10 


Employers make a final offer

After our rejection of the two ‘options’ in their first pay offer, the Local Government Employers (LGE) came back to us with a final offer in writing on 25 April.

The revised offer is:

There are around 28,000 employees – mostly women working part - time - on scale point 4, who would move onto the revised scale point 5 in October. This would mean a 1% increase for them between April and 30 September and a further 1.4% increase on 1 October. Overall they would move from £6.30 to £6.45 – a 2.4% increase.

In their letter to the Joint Trade Union Side Secretaries, the LGE made a number of other points which UNISON responds to in Pay Bulletin no 9.

Unison’s NJC Committee will be meeting on the 7 May in the morning to discuss the LGE’s final offer and agree its recommendation for the branch consultation which will start as soon as possible after 7 May. The Joint Trade Union Side will meet in the afternoon and will hopefully agree a joint way forward.

Pay Bulletin no 9

Employers letter


Living Wage

The living wage is an hourly rate set independently every year. It is calculated according to the cost of living and gives the minimum pay rate required for a worker to provide their family with the essentials of life. Outside of London the current rate is £7.45.

The national minimum wage from October 2013 will be £6.31 but 28,300 people working for councils across the UK earn £6.30 per hour. UNISON has reiterated its call that the government sets the Minimum Wage at Living Wage rates.

“It is a disgrace that 28,000 hardworking local government staff now earn less than the rate which the government accepts is the minimum any worker in the UK should be paid."

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary

Following on from Newcastle City’s brave step in adopting the Living Wage from November 2012 Councils across the region are signing up to support the campaign. All councils have now either set a date for implementation or are in discussions with UNISON over the detail of agreement.

Read the Living Wage campaign newsletter, Spring 2013 for more news from around the region.

Living Wage Campaign


NJC pay negotiations update

The Employers have expressed disappointment that we were not willing to engage in ‘reform’ of the Green Book but also that they understood UNISON’s view of proposed cuts to car allowances. Local government is being squeezed hard, so comparisons with other public sector groups are not necessarily helpful and the public sector pay limit is 1%.
However, they agreed to give further consideration to our representations and respond to us with a formal offer by the end of April.

Pay Matters bulletin No. 8


Employers close pay negotiations

The Local Government Employers (LGE) have effectively closed negotiations on our pay claim by issuing a final offer.

Unison’s NJC Committee will be meeting on the 7 May to discuss the LGE’s final offer and to arrange consultation with branches and members.

Read the employers' letter and UNISON's initial responses on our Pay Matters page. Discuss with your colleagues what kind of response UNISON should make to the offer and if they are not members of a trade union ask them to consider joining UNISON.

The employers' allegation that UNISON has not been prepared to discuss ‘reform’ is untrue, but we have not been provided with the opportunity to discuss positive reform to bring NJC workers in line with other public sector groups. ‘Reform’ for the LGE means ‘cuts’. For UNISON, it means negotiating for fairness and equality across the public sector.

If we are to achieve that we will need all hands on deck.


Model Text for Members Letter to Councillors on NJC Pay

Further NJC pay talks are taking place this week and so it is absolutely urgent that members contact local councillors and council leaders to say that the pay offer is an insult they can’t accept.

In Newcastle the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet have expressed strong support for staff receiving at least a 1% pay rise and they’ve budgeted for that.

You might have something to say about that when you customise the suggested model text in Pay Matters bulletin No. 7


New Local Government Pay Matters Facebook Page!

"UNISON in Local Government" Facebook page which is just focusing on our NJC Pay Matters Campaign has now gone live.

We hope you find it helpful to keep you up to date with all the latest news in one handy place with our regular Pay Matters bulletins along with other current information.

Can you spread the word and ‘Like’ it if you have a Facebook page of your own. The link to the page is

Read more in Pay Matters bulletin No. 6


UNISON provides information for Councillors

Councillors have been asking us for further information about how local government pay compares to other public sector workers’ earnings and also for further information on the car allowances and mileage rates that the Employers’ are seeking to cut in their pay offer.

Read more in Pay Matters bulletin No. 5


Councils are putting money in the bank, but not into the pay packets of local government workers.

Many councils have cut conditions of work and redundancy pay, while spending£ millions on consultants and agency workers which they could be investing in their own staff through a decent pay increase. Council reserves have risen from £13 to £16 billion in the last two years!!!

Read more in Pay Matters bulletin No. 4


At least 50 councils are prepared to pay, or have pledged to pay, the Living Wage.

This amounts to an 18.25% increase on the lowest NJC pay rate. An increase above 1% without strings for all must therefore be affordable.

Read more in Pay Matters bulletin No. 3


18% of local government pay lost since 2010

We have done up to the minute calculations on how much pay you have lost since 2010 when the coalition took power and the employers stopped giving you pay rises.

It’s a massive 18% when inflation is taken into account!!

Read more in Pay Matters bulletin No. 2


Pay offer rejected

Our employers pay offer has been rejected by UNISON.

The Employers responded with two options – set out below.

Option 1 is their stated  “preferred option”. As you can see, it includes 1% on all pay points, changes to NJC Mileage Rates (not NJC essential and casual car user allowances) and replacement of the unilateral arbitration clause with a bilateral clause – both from a date to be agreed. It also includes 1 day of additional annual leave on the basic entitlement and extension of the continuous service provision from 5 to 10 years.

The second “no strings” option is for 1% on spinal column points from 4 to 10 and 0.6% on all pay points from 11 upwards. Option 2 is included as a default option, in the event that Option 1 is rejected.

The “Options”

Option 1

(NB: all dates for implementation of changes to be agreed as part of final deal)

Option 2

Pay Matters bulletin No. 1

Blog by Heather Wakefield, head of UNISON's Local Government Service Group


UNISON survey - Pay and Conditions

UNISON has launched a short online survey for our members in local government.

You can help us campaign for better pay and conditions for everyone working in local government by completing the survey at

The survey will close on 8 February.


MPs need to "get real" on pay demands

At a time when millions of workers are getting zero pay rises, the idea that MPs believe they deserve a 32% increase is “living in cloud cuckoo land” said UNISON chief, Dave Prentis this week.

“MPs should get real about pay, this shows they are totally out of touch with working people. How can they think that they deserve a 32% increase when the rest of the country is being told to tighten their belts?

“Across the country public sector workers such as teaching assistants, school dinner ladies, nurses, paramedics and care workers are struggling because they have had their pay frozen for years. It would be good to hear them backing calls for a decent rise for these workers – instead of thinking about themselves.

“And what about those on benefits will get just a 1% increase – a real terms cut in the face of higher inflation?

“No wonder this research is anonymous, it shows real contempt for the plight of families across the country struggling to make ends meet.”

MPs call for, in private at least, a 32% pay rise The Guardian, 10 January 2013.


Why postcode pay doesn't add up

Thanks to the UNISON Active blog for these links.

The TUC 'Payfair' campaign has produced a great infographic showing why regional pay is unfair, bad for the economy, isn't backed up by the evidence, isn't what the private sector does, would be impractical and is unpopular.

Pay Fair Infographic

TUC: The case against regional or local pay has been growing and political and public opposition to it has increased


Public sector pay premium

The latest figures from the ONS on the public/private sector pay divide arein danger of being used out of context to peddle a myth that public sector workers are overpaid for the same work as those in the private sector.

Across the public sector, workers such as hospital cleaners, cooks and porters or home care and residential care workers have been contracted out of the public sector, but still work in it. These lowest paid privatised jobs are counted as private sector workers - skewing the pay figures. Where public sector workers do get paid more, it is a reflection of the professional training necessary to carry out their jobs such as teachers and social workers or reflect high paid jobs such as army generals, judges and senior civil servants.

Read more


Pay claim proposed for 2013/14

The UNISON NJC committee  has proposed that the next pay claim should comprise "A substantial flat rate increase on all scale points as a step towards the longer term objective of restoring pay levels and achieving the living wage as the bottom NJC spinal column point."

Members have been asked to endorse that proposal and you should have received an email from the branch asking you to vote yes or no.

Since 2009 the value of your pay has fallen by 13% and while it might be unrealistic to expect to claw back the full 13% in a one year pay deal the proposed pay claim is intended to make a start.

Please take the time to respond to the branch consultation. If you cannot reply to the email then contact the branch office to let them know which way you vote.


The Living Wage

The living wage is an hourly rate set independently every year. It is calculated according to the cost of living and gives the minimum pay rate required for a worker to provide their family with the essentials of life.

Living Wage Factsheet

The Living Wage website

Negotiating a Living Wage

These are  guidance notes on negotiating to maintain equal pay proofed pay structures when introducing the Living Wage, drawn up by Sue Hastings, Gill Archer and Kathie Dickson.

They apply to the NJC pay structures, but the principles raised in the guidance can be ‘read across’ to other pay systems.

The paper was motivated by the desire to maintain Single Status pay structures which have been agreed and which are intended to deliver equal pay. The introduction of the Living Wage – while a UNISON target – can raises difficult issues in terms of the grading structure.

As you will see, the paper concludes that introducing the Living Wage as a ‘supplement’ is the best way of maintaining equal pay proofed pay and grading structures in local government.

Newcastle City Council has become the first council in the North East to introduce a living wage for the council’s lowest paid workers.


Regional pay 'ruse to drive down pay' - UNISON

UNISON has branded new justifications for regional public sector pay a ‘transparent ruse from the Tories to justify driving down pay.’

Professor Carol Propper’s research for the University of Bristol calls for national pay in the public sector to be scrapped, claiming it drives down standards in education and leads to reduced quality of care for hospital patients.

UNISON assistant general secretary Karen Jennings said: “This is yet another attempt from this government to attack hard-won employment rights, and a transparent ruse from the Tories to justify driving down pay for public sector workers.

“Our research has already put paid to the argument that nationally-agreed public sector wages ‘crowd out’ public sector employment; using the findings of Professor Propper’s research to suit their agenda is clouding the real issue – austerity isn’t working, and reducing the wages of public sector workers will not help stimulate growth.

“It is time for this Tory-led coalition government to have a good hard look at their failing policies, and concentrate on creating real growth and real jobs, rather than attacking the already dwindling incomes of our public sector workers.”

‘Crowding out: fact or fiction?’  A research report for UNISON from Incomes Data Services (IDS), July 2012


Pay Fair

Why regional pay doesn't add up.

We all want to see fair pay for the nurses, teachers and others who work hard to deliver good public services.

But on top of pay freezes, the government now wants to change the way pay is set in the public sector.

Instead of a fair, transparent national system, they want local or regional pay that would mean different rates for people doing exactly the same jobs, just because of where they live.

The TUC has identified five reasons why it doesn't add up:

You can read more about these arguments and follow and support the campaign on the TUC "Pay Fair" web pages.


Regional and local pay

The Coalition Government has been making statements about “Regional” pay for some time and in his Autumn Statement in November 2011 the Chancellor announced that  Pay Review Bodies would be asked to consider how public sector pay “can be made more responsive to local labour markets.”

As part of this process the Office of Manpower Economics invited the TUC to submit evidence to assist the Pay Review Bodies consideration of the subject. IN the introduction to its response, 'Regional and Local Pay in the Public Sector',  the TUC declares, "it is unfair for a public sector worker in one area, performing the same duties and with the same skills and qualifications, to be paid less than a public sector colleague doing an equivalent job elsewhere in the country."

The threat of Regional or even “ local “ pay rates has the potential to devastate the economy of the North East where around 33% of the workforce is employed in Public Services, making recovery from the recession even harder. This, at a time when thousands of jobs are being lost in the sector and throwing many families into poverty in a Region where unemployment is at record levels , particularly for the young, and child poverty is rife.

The Region has included campaigning against these proposals as part of our Regional Action Plan for 2012 and the TUC response gives some key points for Branches to use in arguments against Regional Pay.


Low paid local government workers facing poverty

A report by the New Policy Institute for UNISON shows that local government pay has been slashed to 1990’s levels by below inflation pay settlements, a two-year pay freeze and the employers’ failure to pay the £250 promised to low paid workers by the Chancellor. It has declined by 13% in the last three years alone. Additional cuts to pay and conditions at local level are making a difficult situation even harder for many local government workers.

More than a quarter of the workforce – 75% of whom are women – now earn less than the Living Wage of £7.20 per hour. Many are forced to rely on benefits and tax credits to keep their heads above water, and any change in their family’s situation can drag them into poverty. Meanwhile, Chief Executive pay in local government has risen by a massive 59% between 1998 and 2007.

Read more


Pay claim 2012

In order to simply catch up with inflation we would have to make a claim for an 11% pay increase.

However, the UNISON NJC Committee considered this unrealistic so branches are being consulted about a pay claim comprisingon two elements:

Newcastle branch members on email have been asked whether they agree with these objectives and a majority of those who responded do agree.

On the first question 765 voted YES and 126 voted NO. On the second question 757 voted YES and 50 voted NO.

Although the questions are vague these results will give our negotiaters an indication of how members feel about pay and help them to draw up a detailed claim.

The pay claim together with some background analysis is presented in a UNISON circular to branches.


Is the Prime Minister right to claim that public sector pay is ‘now higher than the private sector’?

Earlier this week the Prime Minister stated that:

…according to the Office for National Statistics, the average gross pay in the public sector is now higher than in the private sector

The implication is that overly generous pay justifies the pay freeze, increased pension contributions and heightened risks of redundancy that workers across the public sector are currently being asked to bear. Nicola Smith, the TUC’s Head of Economic and Social Affairs, says that to claim that pay across the public sector is outstripping private sector earnings is simply wrong.

Read Nicola's blog which presents some useful counter-arguments regarding public sector pay to those being espoused by the Government.


Britain's Livelihood Crisis

Thirty years ago, Britain moved from welfare to market capitalism, on a promise of economic dynamism and renewed efficiency. The result has been rather different. While those at the top have become very rich the disappearance of many middle-paid, skilled occupations and an ongoing squeeze on wages has led to a poorer, more divided Britain. In a pamphlet for the TUC Stewart Lansley deconstructs the different elements that, together, have led to ‘Britain’s Livelihood Crisis’, before setting out the changes that government, business and unions must make if we are to deliver more wealth and greater equality.

Full pamphlet

Executive summary




provides some useful counter-arguments regarding public sector pay to those being espoused by the Government. 


New on Site


Learning at Work Week

15-21 May 2017. The theme this year is Curious and Creative for Learning at Work Week.

Distance Courses

Starting 24 April 2017, these courses can be done online or paper based.


NEC Elections

Branch nominations and ballot details.

'There For You’ Newsletter

This newsletter includes an update on the changes to the Bereavement Support Payment as well as contact details for ‘Down to Earth’, who provide practical and emotional support throughout the funeral process.


Branch Lottery

Winners in March.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/13

Executive pay bandwagon rolls on

Cycle courier entitled to holiday pay

Employment law changes this April

New minimum wage rates kick in

UK lags on maternity

Merger heralds new teaching union

Consultation on caste discrimination



New courses for members and stewards.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/12

Inflation leaps to 3.2%

More regulation of gig economy needed

Appalling risk of suicides in construction

Fat cats — the great pay divide

Racist abuse after Brexit vote

Lack of diversity at top in Wales


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 3 April.


Regional Disabled Members Group

Meeting on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at 4.30pm.

Misogyny as a Hate Crime

Nottinghamshire Police have taken the bold step to identify misogyny as a hate crime and Northern UNSION are keen for this to be replicated in our region. The aim of the event is to identify how we can move the issue forward across the region with all three Police and Crime Commissioners.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/11

Swings and scooters of inflation basket

No real improvement in weekly earnings

Cosmetic improvement with Living Wage

Zero-hours contracts at record high

Unemployment falls below 1.6 million


AGM 2017

Agenda and annual report.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/10

Economic forecasts in Hammond's Budget

Mixed fortunes in ethnic women's pay gap data

Company merger and acquisitions in 2016

Numbers on zero-hours contracts at a high

GMB take on DX delivery firm

Former chancellor's nice big earner

Charter to stop violence at work


March/Rally for Durham Teaching Assistants

Saturday 25 March. Hear grassroots, union and guest speakers and watch the Reel News film showing the Durham Teaching Assistants’ story.

LGBT Policy weekend

Saturday 25 March, to plan UNISON LGBT activities for the year ahead.

HOPE Not Hate Event

A joint training session for trade union and community activists on how to organise to defeat the politics of division.  18 March 2017.

NE People’s Assembly

March calendar of events and activities.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/9

Trade Union Act regs come into force

Gender pension gap leaves women short

Violence at work — the nasty truth

Bookseller's £7m salary

Money purchase pension are norm

British Gas denied appeal in Lock case

Government fails in ethnicity review


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 6 March.

Retired members

Papers for the retired members' meeting on 17 March.


Branch Lottery

Winners in February.

Workers Memorial Day

Morning seminar and afternoon remembrance service in Hartlepool on Friday 28 April 2017. There is also an Eve of WMD ‘Gig’ on Thursday 27 April.


Labour Research Department Fact 79/8

Government green paper on pensions

A 'Stern diet' for fat cat directors' pay

Employers — don't miss out on talent

Argos repays £2.4 million to 37,000 staff

Economic growth revised upwards

Work fears of disabled people revealed

In the papers

Migrants have helped make Britain. It’s time to celebrate us

NHS at breaking point, according to British Medical Association

Councils prepare to cut essential services to fund adult social care

London transport spending equivalent to £1,500 more per head than North East


Labour Research Department Fact 79/7

Minimum wage cheats named and shamed

Inflation hits three-year high

Unemployment at 11-year low

Inflation erodes growth in weekly earnings

In the papers

Migrants are always the scapegoats. But now they’re taking on Ukip’s lies

I, Daniel Blake is a realistic depiction of life on benefits. Isn’t it?

English social care system for elderly facing 'complete collapse'

North East peers want law to make Government investigate impact of Brexit on region

North East recruitment drive revealed as jobless total in region rises

UK employment growth driven by foreign nationals, figures show

The NHS needs a rethink. Its priorities no longer make sense

Top Labour politicians come to 'UKIP area' Sunderland for Brexit debates and festival

Rothbury Community Hospital inpatient ward closure public meeting this week

Shopping will cost you more as prices rise, but is Brexit to blame?

Campaigners calling for u-turn over Post Office move

UK labour shortages reported as EU worker numbers fall

Britons living in the EU face Brexit backlash, leaked paper warns

Then the Daily Mail came for Gary Lineker, and we said: ‘Enough!’

Brexit survey revealed: What you would do if given second shot at EU referendum

Booming gig economy costs £4bn in lost tax and benefit payouts, says TUC

There will be a shameful betrayal of the Brexit low-paid

Welcome to the new dark ages, where only the wealthy can retire

NHS 'pays £7.5m a year for 20 most expensive agency doctors'

Drive to bring health and social care together is a well-intentioned mess


Disabled Members Policy Weekend

Sunderland, 19/20 May 2017.

Members training

Sign Language (BSL) Introduction, 2 March 2017

Dementia Workshop, 30 March 2017

Reps training

Regional Education Calendar 2017

In the papers

A&E in England had worst delays ever in January, leak suggests

Why was Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes the star of Prime Minister's questions?

Number of patients stuck in hospital 'far higher than NHS data shows'

It's time corporate tax dodgers started losing lucrative council contracts

More council housing needed in the North East - government report reveals

Council tax, youth funding and bins: 6 things to look out for from Sunderland budget meeting

TyneMet and South Tyneside colleges merger: What it means for jobs, campuses and its new name?

Labour Research Department Fact 79/6

Review of tribunal fees finally published

Plan to tackle abusive hiring practices

Insecure work on rise

Twenty eight directors share £68.37 million


Affiliations and donations

A list of affiliations and donations that the branch committee has approved since January 2015.


In the papers

UK faces return to inequality of Thatcher years, says report

NHS ID scheme could deter eligible patients, say MPs

Councils may cut social care provision due to underfunding, LGA says

Nursery schools: ‘What society gives children less chance than their parents?’

Council tax rise planned for Northumberland residents as authority faces £36m cuts

'Trump can't hack Trebs' - the best signs from Newcastle anti-Trump demonstration

Labour Research Department Fact 79/5

Racism at work

Economy grows but there's a shortfall

Advice on gender pay gap from Acas

Tories offer no solution on discrimination

Eight assaults a day in Welsh schools


A quarterly periodical updating branch reps on employment law.


Branch Lottery

Winners in January.


Young Members

Northern Region Young Members AGM

Black Members

UNISON Northern Region Black Members Forum AGM 2017.

LV Car Insurance

Discounted car insurance for UNISON members.


North East March and Rally for #ourNHS

In Newcastle on Saturday 4 February.

Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on 6 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/4

Death by a thousand fire service cuts

Guidance on stress

Modern-day slave traders jailed

Fees let bad bosses get off scot free

Top-ranked inclusive employers 2017

Get tough on pay, says pension funds


Women's Network AGM

Agenda and nomination form for the mmeting on 4 February.

Disabled Members

Annual Meeting of the Regional Disabled Members Self Organised Group on Tuesday 31 January 2017.

Members training

Mental Health Awareness Workshop on Thursday 16 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/3

Wales to ditch parts of 2016 Trade Union Act

Inflation rates at highest since 2014

Retail inflation eating into earnings growth

UK unemployment at nine-year low

In the Papers

Public sector pay poised to fall by thousands in real terms, TUC says

May’s promise on workers’ rights is hollow if she doesn’t get a deal

NHS crisis: the one act of self-sacrifice that could rescue our health service

Politicians have ignored the working class for too long

World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

Crisis, what NHS crisis? Theresa May must stop this denial

Welsh government tables bill to overturn Trade Union Act


Anne Frank Trust Exhibition

UNISON have now been allocated two spots on the 16 January to have guided tours around the Anne Frank exhibition. 

Labour Research Department Fact 79/2

Courier's tribunal win against CitySprint

TUC warns over Brexit threat to workers' rights

Lame excuses for not paying minimum wage

High street store fined over safety

Manufacturing output edges higher

Child poverty briefing


Branch Lottery

Winners in December.


The Trade Union Act and UNISON's Political Fund

Consultation on political fund review: December-January

Reading Ahead

We are having our first Reading Ahead launch at Welford Learning Zone on 11 January between 10am and 11am.

Trade Union Reps courses

Book now to secure your place on one of the courses for Reps at Newcastle College starting in January 2017.

Northern Region Training Programme

UNISON courses in 2017. These courses are free and open to all members unless otherwise stated.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/1

'Precarious pay penalty' of zero-hours staff

Plans for a Universal Basic Income

2017 — economic forecasts for year

'Fat Cat Wednesday' has been and gone

Northern Ireland to reveal political gifts

UK's deficit in trade in goods gets ever worse

UK economic growth revised upwards