Local government pay disputes - single status

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Mike Harman
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Feb 15 2008 12:38
Local government pay disputes - single status

Seems to be a reasonable about going on, but a lot of regional variation with this national fair pay thing (which usually downgrades pay of people on about £19k to £13k and crap like that).

Nottingham County Council has an 'action group' which is having to fight Unison alongside the council. A lot of lobbying, but some organisation is encouraging, would be interested to hear if anyone knows more about them.

Quote:
FPAG was spontaneously formed in late 2007, when Nottinghamshire County Council announced the wages it had attached to its job evaluation exercise. As shock and disbelief at the results quickly turned to disgust and anger, a number of employees began making their feelings known, and a number of websites sprung up - an online petition, a forum, a blog. Workers voiced their outrage on these sites, and when a protest was suggested, the various sites and individuals took up the call, and a successful protest took place outside County Hall on the 1st November 2007.

This point marked the real beginnings of FPAG, as Peter Taylor and others began organising and requesting volunteers. The Fair Pay Action Group was formed and its first meeting took place on 26th November 2007.

To date, the group has formed a small committee, held successful rallies outside County Hall, held meetings of affected staff in the council chamber and engaged with local councillors and MP's. The group has set up various online web sites, mailing lists and facilities for the use of Nottinghamshire workers and other affected councils. The beginnings of a 'fighting fund' have been set up, and online donations are active. The group has also been in contact with, and provided assistance to, organisers of groups in other Authorities where staff are facing similar cuts - it is estimated that up to 250,000 staff will be suffering pay cuts across the country due to JE.

The group has started a national petition on the 10 Downing St website. The plight of so many people needs national attention - sadly, the one organisation that should be cordinating all of this, UNISON, is allowing local schemes to be determined. How long before national terms and conditions of employment disappear? Come and join our campaign!

FPAG is not affiliated to, or associated with, any political party or union

http://ncc.fairpay.org.uk/

There's also been a couple of one day strikes in Birmingham -I think including a lot of council workers (over 10,000). Anyone got more on this?

ftony
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Feb 15 2008 13:14

re. brum strike:
a friend of mine works for brum city council and was on a one-day strike a couple of weeks back (well, he would have been striking if he hadn't already booked the day off work - haha!). although he was fully backing the action and demands, he says that a lot of temps and other workers related to but not employed directly by the council are less than supportive. from their point of view, these (relatively) very privileged and (relatively) very highly paid workers are striking, while the rest of them are getting peanuts whether they like it or not. or at least that's how it seems to some people, including some of the strikers interestingly. hey ho, divide and rule...

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Steven.
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Feb 16 2008 12:59

In general in LG, the unions are demanding a 6% raise this year:
http://unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=3949

for inflation - 4% - and to catch up from last year's cuts - 2%.

there are a few of these too.

half of my dept are getting new pay scales, and part time workers are being discriminated against - being offered lower wages than full-timers, which is illegal.

not sure what ftony means by "(relatively) very privileged" etc., local gov workers have very low pay. skilled agency workers are paid much better, tho low skilled admin types get less. Regardless, this always happens when workers strike. with agency you can explain if they don't, there won't be any decent, permanent jobs left for them to ever get.

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Steven.
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Feb 17 2008 19:54
Jack wrote:
Steven - in your place is the trend looking universally down? Do you know nationally how much it's being used as an excuse to cut wage bills?

this is only 1 dept, there's an additional re-evaluation of all jobs, which i don't think'll make much difference. So don't know more generally. will see though in next few months.

ftony
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Feb 18 2008 11:30
Steven. wrote:
not sure what ftony means by "(relatively) very privileged" etc.

my mate was especially talking about the people who've been in LG 10, 20, or so years, with better pay and conditions than a private sector or temp equivalent. anyway, it wasn't me saying it, it was my mate who actually works for brum city council.

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Armchair Anarchist
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Feb 18 2008 12:44

61% of council employees earn less than £15,825 pa - £8000 LESS than average UK annual earnings. Most of these employees are women, working part-time, doing the jobs no-one else wants to do - carers, care assistants, dinner ladies, cleaners etc.

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Steven.
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Feb 18 2008 20:02
ftony wrote:
Steven. wrote:
not sure what ftony means by "(relatively) very privileged" etc.

my mate was especially talking about the people who've been in LG 10, 20, or so years, with better pay and conditions than a private sector or temp equivalent. anyway, it wasn't me saying it, it was my mate who actually works for brum city council.

better than private sector? Even senior management are worse off than private sector equivalents. And in the high up roles agency workers are usually better off. People there for 20 years will have lots of annual leave though, that's about the only advantage they'd have - but there's been big moves to kick out the "old guard" in local govt - one of ours recently one an unfair dismissal tribunal.

Wherever your mate works, he's talking bollocks.

Carousel
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Feb 18 2008 21:28
Quote:
Even senior management are worse off than private sector equivalents.

Public sector senior management have no private sector equivalents. Last time I checked, no one’s got everyone laid off because there’s no money in the bank due to them not making this quarter’s numbers. Different world comrade. And as for your lower ranks, well, I assure you out in the stix your local government bureaucracy lands a tastier wage than their agency equivalent. Your Blue Arrow office job is lucky to top £8.00 an hour.

Single Status takes so long to implement because of HR fiddling with the formula so the blue collar types don’t lose out to the point they don’t bother turning up. I understand that Birmingham City Council had to remove it’s livery from their vehicles because their staff were being attacked when the punters found out they were paying this bollard painter 60 grand or something. Any road up, it’s hardly an argument about what’s fair and what's deserved and so on, leave the bleating to Unison. The working class should grab what they can, and hang the arguments about what’s right and wrong. It’s not as if we want to rescue the economy or play popularity campaigns against parliament.

ftony
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Feb 19 2008 09:51
Steven. wrote:
Wherever your mate works, he's talking bollocks.

well you might want to argue that with him, who actually works there and knows what's going on

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Armchair Anarchist
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Feb 20 2008 23:43

And if he's a union member, why is he booking leave? He should be out on strike like the rest of us.

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Armchair Anarchist
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Feb 20 2008 23:47
Carousel wrote:
And as for your lower ranks, well, I assure you out in the stix your local government bureaucracy lands a tastier wage than their agency equivalent. Your Blue Arrow office job is lucky to top £8.00 an hour.

Did you read this post:

Armchair Anarchist wrote:
61% of council employees earn less than £15,825 pa - £8000 LESS than average UK annual earnings. Most of these employees are women, working part-time, doing the jobs no-one else wants to do - carers, care assistants, dinner ladies, cleaners etc.

?

Carousel wrote:
I understand that Birmingham City Council had to remove it’s livery from their vehicles because their staff were being attacked when the punters found out they were paying this bollard painter 60 grand or something.

You understand wrong then - this is an urban myth perpetuated by the Tory/LibDem 'progressive partnership' running BCC at the moment.

Carousel
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Feb 21 2008 00:22
Quote:
Did you read this post

Of course. What of it?

Quote:
You understand wrong then

It's been somewhat melodramatised no doubt. Though, as something of a local government executive myself at the mo, I know this myth holds some water. I’m intrigued as to what your beef is, if most employees are part timers then 16K pa (£15ph?) represents a better hourly rate than most people round here make. Having said that, "round here's" average household income is about 2/3rds of the UK average. Plasterers' jobs are advertised at £11ph. I can't help but think we're still caught up in the cycle of deliberating on whether this-or-that is "fair", which is hardly the problem.

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madashell
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Feb 21 2008 07:56
Steven. wrote:
better than private sector? Even senior management are worse off than private sector equivalents. And in the high up roles agency workers are usually better off. People there for 20 years will have lots of annual leave though, that's about the only advantage they'd have - but there's been big moves to kick out the "old guard" in local govt - one of ours recently one an unfair dismissal tribunal.

Wherever your mate works, he's talking bollocks.

Actually, depending on the area and industry, it's entirely possible that a temp admin will be on a fair bit less than the person they're taking over from.

Either way, it's not all that relevant. Except in the sense that, like it or not, council workers are percieved to be better off than everyone else. It's not something you can really dismiss out of hand if you want to gain the support of agency staff and third sector workers.

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oisleep
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Feb 21 2008 08:08
Quote:
People there for 20 years will have lots of annual leave though, that's about the only advantage they'd have

guranteed final salary pension in an age where that's something the bulk of employees can only dream off not considered as an advantage?

not saying it necessarily evens things out (although for someone retiring at 60 and living till 90 it probably would) but it's definately something that needs to be factored into any comparison

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madashell
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Feb 21 2008 08:08
Carousel wrote:
if most employees are part timers then 16K pa (£15ph?) represents a better hourly rate than most people round here make.

Now hold on with that showy Globetrotter algebra there. If 61% earn £8-16k, and most of those are part time, it doesn't follow that there are a load of part time cleaners out there earning £16k a year. In fact, most of the part timers are going to be concentrated at the lower end, for obvious reasons.

ftony
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Feb 21 2008 09:52
Armchair Anarchist wrote:
And if he's a union member, why is he booking leave? He should be out on strike like the rest of us.

he booked his leave months ago before he joined the union and before he knew the strike was happening.

ftony
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Feb 21 2008 09:59
Quote:
FPAG was spontaneously formed in late 2007, when Nottinghamshire County Council announced the wages it had attached to its job evaluation exercise. As shock and disbelief at the results quickly turned to disgust and anger, a number of employees began making their feelings known, and a number of websites sprung up - an online petition, a forum, a blog. Workers voiced their outrage on these sites, and when a protest was suggested, the various sites and individuals took up the call, and a successful protest took place outside County Hall on the 1st November 2007.

This point marked the real beginnings of FPAG, as Peter Taylor and others began organising and requesting volunteers. The Fair Pay Action Group was formed and its first meeting took place on 26th November 2007.

To date, the group has formed a small committee, held successful rallies outside County Hall, held meetings of affected staff in the council chamber and engaged with local councillors and MP's. The group has set up various online web sites, mailing lists and facilities for the use of Nottinghamshire workers and other affected councils. The beginnings of a 'fighting fund' have been set up, and online donations are active. The group has also been in contact with, and provided assistance to, organisers of groups in other Authorities where staff are facing similar cuts - it is estimated that up to 250,000 staff will be suffering pay cuts across the country due to JE.

The group has started a national petition on the 10 Downing St website. The plight of so many people needs national attention - sadly, the one organisation that should be cordinating all of this, UNISON, is allowing local schemes to be determined. How long before national terms and conditions of employment disappear? Come and join our campaign!

FPAG is not affiliated to, or associated with, any political party or union

re. this FPAG - are they active outside Nottingham? it seems from their website that they're very Notts based but have national ambitions. anyone know more?

Carousel
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Feb 21 2008 14:17
Quote:
In fact, most of the part timers are going to be concentrated at the lower end, for obvious reasons.

Nice pull up. I thought you might cut me some slack what with the way numbers are thrown around to show how unfair this-or-that is. Part time local government office temps make about £7.50 an hour, about a £1 ph more than the competition. Having said that, I haven’t seen a part time private sector office job advertised apart from “on reception” or in call centres.

Quote:
Except in the sense that, like it or not, council workers are percieved to be better off than everyone else. It's not something you can really dismiss out of hand if you want to gain the support of agency staff and third sector workers.

The way to secure “support” is via physical force, not playing popularity competitions.

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madashell
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Feb 21 2008 18:40
Carousel wrote:
Nice pull up. I thought you might cut me some slack what with the way numbers are thrown around to show how unfair this-or-that is. Part time local government office temps make about £7.50 an hour, about a £1 ph more than the competition. Having said that, I haven’t seen a part time private sector office job advertised apart from “on reception” or in call centres.

It varies hugely, IME, depending on the industry, the agency and the experience of the temp concerned.

Quote:
The way to secure “support” is via physical force, not playing popularity competitions.

Physical force (or the threat of it) is always an option, of course, but sometimes "playing popularity competitions" can be just as effective, if not more so.

Carousel
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Feb 21 2008 19:00

Ha ha. Well if they can be just as effective, as you say, where's the conflict with democracy? You think you can vote yourself a pay rise through the ballot box? If not, this "support" is expressed only in their thoughts.

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madashell
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Feb 22 2008 00:34
Carousel wrote:
Ha ha. Well if they can be just as effective, as you say, where's the conflict with democracy? You think you can vote yourself a pay rise through the ballot box? If not, this "support" is expressed only in their thoughts.

Well generally speaking, strikes tend to go better if agency workers aren't crossing picket lines to do the jobs of strikign staff. What the fuck has that got to do with ballot boxes exactly?

Carousel
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Feb 22 2008 02:21

The way to maintain picket lines is hit squads, not appealing to some sense of “fairness”.

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madashell
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Feb 29 2008 17:02

And as I said before, hit squads are all well and good, but they require the support of a mass of the workers taking part in a struggle to be effective. It'd be no good me calling a strike on my own and then going around saying I was going to batter every single person who showed up to work the next day, would it?

Carousel
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Mar 1 2008 15:54

No they do not require "support" at all. The contents of the workers minds, what they are for or against is irrelevant. The majority of the public being for your payrise won’t help you, the majority of them being against it won’t hinder you. If you think otherwise, you’re vindicating the responsiveness of your social institutions. What will get you a pay rise, though, is being useful. If you’re useful to at least some people, and they can’t do without you in particular, then you stand half a chance.

Quote:
It'd be no good me calling a strike on my own and then going around saying I was going to batter every single person who showed up to work the next day, would it?

It would be fucking excellent comrade. That’s what I want people to do.

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Steven.
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Mar 1 2008 17:42
Carousel wrote:
Quote:
It'd be no good me calling a strike on my own and then going around saying I was going to batter every single person who showed up to work the next day, would it?

It would be fucking excellent comrade. That’s what I want people to do.

That's just silly, one person would just get nicked. Due to the conditions we find ourselves in things like hit squads aren't on the agenda, and talking about them's a bit silly. However Carousel is right that public opinion is largely irrelevant for workers to win improvements - it's the workers' power to cause disruption or effect profits.

However things like appeals to people's sense of "fairness" and can be effective in garnering the support of other workers, which can be converted into bigger strength, if people don't cross picket lines, etc. so it can be useful.

Our council's single status review is provisionally done, and it looks very bad, nearly half of jobs are being downgraded, and loads of other shit in there like overtime payment cuts - this'll affect manual workers. Hopefully they'll withdraw this package next week though...

On part of my department's note, we're telling the boss to withdraw the new pay scales or we'll ballot for strike action.

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Steven.
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Mar 1 2008 17:46
madashell wrote:
Steven. wrote:
better than private sector? Even senior management are worse off than private sector equivalents. And in the high up roles agency workers are usually better off. People there for 20 years will have lots of annual leave though, that's about the only advantage they'd have - but there's been big moves to kick out the "old guard" in local govt - one of ours recently one an unfair dismissal tribunal.

Wherever your mate works, he's talking bollocks.

Actually, depending on the area and industry, it's entirely possible that a temp admin will be on a fair bit less than the person they're taking over from.

I know - i didn't say otherwise. I went from temp to perm admin and get more now. Low-skilled temps get shit all, highly skilled ones like social workers get more.

Quote:
Either way, it's not all that relevant. Except in the sense that, like it or not, council workers are percieved to be better off than everyone else. It's not something you can really dismiss out of hand if you want to gain the support of agency staff and third sector workers.

I'm dismissing it out of hand from a "radical" on an anarchist site. I don't with people generally.

With the temps at my place i just explain if these perm workers don't win there won't be any decent perm jobs for them to ever get themselves. The perm workers should also help them try to get perm jobs - let them apply for internal-only positions, get in redeployment pools, have rules about over 1-year service enforced, etc. I do this at my work, as a result we have strong support for our "union" activities from all our temps.

Carousel
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Mar 1 2008 17:52
Quote:
That's just silly, one person would just get nicked.

I doubt it. There's no point going on strike if you're frightened of losing your job, if that’s the case it’s just a choreographed symbolic protest. The minute you walk out the door, you’ve got to be prepared to see the firm collapse.

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madashell
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Mar 2 2008 00:47
Steven. wrote:
That's just silly, one person would just get nicked.

Nicked? I'd get my fucking teeth kicked in grin

Quote:
Due to the conditions we find ourselves in things like hit squads aren't on the agenda, and talking about them's a bit silly. However Carousel is right that public opinion is largely irrelevant for workers to win improvements - it's the workers' power to cause disruption or effect profits.

Yeah, but I wasn't talking about public opinion, I'm talking about the participation (or otherwise) of other workers effected by the dispute, which, as you point out yourself, is pretty important.

Quote:
On part of my department's note, we're telling the boss to withdraw the new pay scales or we'll ballot for strike action.

Good stuff, how solid do you think it's likely to be?

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little_brother
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Mar 3 2008 11:04
ftony wrote:
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re. this FPAG - are they active outside Nottingham? it seems from their website that they're very Notts based but have national ambitions. anyone know more?

Leicester have one too: http://lcc.fairpay.org.uk/

Incidently Nottingham City Council library workers are opposing council over uniforms: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire/2008/02/392366.html
although this already appears to be being treated as a lost cause by Unison (note this is not the same branch as Notts County mentioned at start of thread since Nottingham is a unitary authority).