2020 was a very difficult year for everyone. Not least for staff working in local authorities (whether on the frontline or working from home). The pandemic hit us just as we were being told about the ‘green shoots’ of economic recovery and an end to the previous 10 years of austerity and pay restraint. Right up until the beginning of December 2020 we were being led to believe that a cost of living award of 2% across the board was on offer from SCC for 2021/22. Whilst we never accepted that was going to be enough, we never expected that offer to be withdrawn at such a late stage in negotiations – to be replaced by a similar pay freeze policy to the one outlined by the Chancellor for public sector workers on national terms.
The Final Offer
The final offer from SCC is for:
- a £350 per year increase on all pay points up to PS7 point 4 (apart from the lowest pay scale S1/2 who will receive a £376 per year increase, bringing them up to the UK Living Wage Foundation ‘outside London’ minimum Living Wage level).
- An incremental rise (where criteria has been met and where the employee is not at the top of their scale).
- Changes to unsocial hours payments – from 1 April 2021 a new system will apply to all staff (up to and including PS8 grades) working evenings, weekends and bank holidays (please see SCC Pay Offer on our website below for details). These payments will replace all existing ‘legacy’ payments. Staff who face a reduction in pay will receive pay protection for up to 10% of losses for 12 months, and those who face a reduction of more than 10% will receive a one-off additional payment of £1,000.
- Changes to SCC ‘Recognition payments – paid to staff who have done an exceptional job over a sustained period – capped at £1,000 per person in any one year (more detail in the SCC Pay Offer).
- Professional fees – the council will go back to paying the costs of professional fees for roles where this is an essential job requirement.
Our reps met to discuss the council’s final offer and agreed to recommend the following:
- Rejection of the £350 across the board increase.
- A demand for honouring the council’s original offer of 2% across the board (but not including those on the ‘Leadership Pay Model’ from PS15 upward).
- A demand for a Working From Home allowance to cover the increased costs of heating and lighting etc.
The table below demonstrates the major fall in living standards suffered by staff over recent years.
|SCC cost of living pay increases||Rise in cost of living
(as measured by Retail Prices Index)
|2012||£350 or £500 if <£21,000 consolidated lump sum||3.2%|
|2013||£500 or £750 if <£21,000 consolidated lump sum||3.0%|
|2014||£250 consolidated lump sum||2.4%|
|2015||£300 consolidated lump sum||1.0%|
|2016||£150 non-consolidated payment||1.8%|
|2019||New pay points (ave 2%)||2.6%|
This means that, while the cost of living has risen by 34% over the last decade, pay in SCC has risen by just a fraction of that amount. Thousands of pounds have been cut from the value of our wages. For our wages not to fall back even further, they must at least keep pace with predicted rises in the cost of living, which Treasury forecasts had put at 1.6% in 2020 and 2% in 2021.
Imprtantly, once again, those staff at the tops of their grades from S7 upward will receive no pay increase at all for 2021.
What do you need to do now?
- We need to know how members feel about the offer in general and whether you want UNISON to push for the full 2% across the board in the original offer (excluding PS15 and above).
- We need to know if you have been working from home and, if so, whether you want UNISON to pursue a Working From Home allowance.
- We need to know if you are affected by the changes to the unsocial hours payments and whether you want UNISON to accept the changes.
- In all cases, we also need to know whether you would be willing to vote YES in any future ballot for industrial action over any of these issues.
We will be sending out an electronic ballot to all our SCC members consulting with you on this pay offer.
On behalf of the UNISON Pay Team