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The NJC joint TU executive met on 15th August when UNISON exec reps met with Unite and GMB, and the three unions stated their respective positions and discussed potential next steps.

Unite reported that they now have a mandate for action in 24 employers, but we believe these mandates cover less than 5000 members in total. We are therefore surprised to hear that they intend to push ahead with action in some of these areas in September.

GMB reported that they are still intending to run an industrial action ballot, mostly in schools, from 12th September to late October. The earliest possible date they could take industrial action would be 9th November so this is well outside the agreed timetable.

UNISON’s exec reported our committee’s clear position that it did not feel we had a mandate to take effective national action that could improve the pay offer, and that it didn’t want to take small, isolated groups of members out on strike on behalf of large groups of members that didn’t meet the threshold. Our position was therefore that members wanted and needed the money in their pockets as soon as possible, and that we wanted to move forward to submitting a claim for 2024 and building on the improved participation this year in an even stronger 2024 pay campaign.

Following a discussion between the unions, agreement has been reached to:

  • Write to the Employers’ Side to ask for an improved offer; and in the meantime/pending a response,
  • Convene a meeting of the full Trade Union Side to make a decision on 2023 pay.
  • This meeting will now take place on 19th September and UNISON hopes to help resolve pay for 2023 then

Our position is very much that we want to turn our attention to 2024 pay – getting a strong pay claim agreed and submitted as soon as possible, and launching a wide-ranging and ambitious campaign to support it.

UPDATE 19th Sept

Following the results of this year’s ballot, UNISON’s NJC Committee (our national committee overseeing our work on NJC pay) decided not to take industrial action. Since then, UNISON’s clear position has been to accept the pay offer the local government employers offer in order to get on and build a strong pay campaign for 2024 on a proper timetable.

The offer for 2023 is a consolidated, flat rate increase of £1,925 pro rata’d for part-time and term time only staff.

Given the cost-of-living crisis and its particular impact on low paid staff, we want to do all we can to support our members and get them more money in their pockets.

UNISON met with the other trade unions (Unite and GMB) earlier this week, and we did our best to encourage a resolution to the 2023 pay dispute – emphasising the need for members to receive their pay rise as soon as possible. Ultimately we were disappointed that we were not able to get an agreement and the outcome of the meeting was to reconvene in late October, after the current GMB industrial action ballot closes. Unite are currently taking industrial action in a small number of local authorities but not in our area. Since the process cannot move forward unless the NJC trade union side has reached an agreement, we are unable to proceed at this time.

Update 1st Nov

Dear all

I spoke to GMB’s lead officer for local government this evening who confirmed that GMB have decided not to take industrial action on NJC pay 2023, and that they wish to move to settle and get the pay rise paid to members asap. They are posting the decision on their website so it is public.

We have a meeting of the TU side joint secretaries at 2pm tomorrow, where UNISON and GMB will state clearly that with our two unions wanting to settle immediately, that needs to be the decision, in line with the TU side constitution. Following the decision, we will notify the LGA and ask them to prepare a draft joint circular for approval and distribution to employers (this should not take them long).

Mike Short

National Secretary

Education, Local Government, Police & Justice