Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Increment Latest News

UNISON, Aberdeen's largest public sector trade union, says it is relieved that the long running increments row with Aberdeen City Council is now resolved, and wants to get on with defending public services in the city in the face of crippling budget proposals.
Aberdeen City Councillors voted to approve the deal brokered by ACAS whidh means that all council staff due a pay increment in April 2010 will now receive it. The unions and the council are hopeful that all payments, including back pay, can be made before Christmas. The unions and the council have agreed to enter into immediate and meaningful talks on a range of issues connected to the Council's budget proposals.
Karen Davidson, Branch Secretary of Aberdeen City UNISON, said "we are releived that council staff will now get the agreed rate of pay for their job and we are glad that this distracting issue is behind us. Withholding the increment was a breach of our contract and it affected hundreds of low paid workers who were entitled to an increment for the first time this year. Individuals will not get huge amounts of money out of this - a personal carer helping someone to staff in their own home will get £9.99 more a week after a year in the job, when she has got more skills and experience which enables her to give a better service to her clients.
We have established a vital principle here - that employers cannot use the current tough financial climate as an excuse to break contracts of employment. Our members stood up for their rights this year and carried on doing their jobs in very difficult circumstances. Our employer now know that they must work with their staff and the unions to achieve savings."
Karen continued, "UNISON knows there are difficult decisions to be made in Aberdeen about the vital services that we all depend on. We want to be fully involved in the decisions about what our services should be in the future. It's not the buildings and equipment and complicated processes that ensure people get car, receive high quality educaiton, can enjoy parks, libraries and leisure centres and have their bins emptied - all of this comes down to the commitment and effort of council workers."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ballot Problems

Please note that we have been notified that some of the Ballot papers that were issued have not printed correctly.

If you have been issued with a blank form or one that is printed only on one side please speak to your Steward as soon as possible and they will advise you what to do. Alternatively write whether you accept or reject option 2 on the blank side and return it to the freepost address.

Apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Ballot on the Employers Latest Increment Offer

After further negotiations with Trade Unions, Aberdeen City Council have come forward with a revised offer relating to the payment of increments which has been outlined on the "Zone". The Branch at it's Special Meeting on Monday 20 September agreed to issue a further ballot to members asking you to vote on the latest proposal.

The Branch is of the opinion that option 2 is the best offer that can be achieved by negotiation. We are making no recommendation as to whether you should accept or reject option 2 however we have provided you with the pros and cons of accepting the offer to help you decide.

Acceptance of the proposal will mean:-
  • the full hourly rate of the increment will be apid from 1 November with no backdating
  • the increment monies due from 1 April to 31 October 2010 will be negotiated separately to settle Employment Tribunal claims submitted
  • the employer commits to paying in full the increment due on 1 April 2011, subject to individuals meeting the criteria of "normally" (which will permit the employer to withhold or delay increments where individuals are subjectto disciplinary procedures or absence management policies)
  • that negotiations will continue with the Trade Unions to obtain a clear set of criteria and guidance for the definition of "normally" and the circumstances in which an individual's increment can be withheld. It is our understanding that this will relate to individual behaviours and not global financial pressure.

Rejection of the offer will mean:-

  • leaving the Employment Tribunal to decide whether the increment is due by pursuing the claims for unlawful deduction of wages. If the Council loses they have said that they will appeal; this means there may be no final outcome (and payment of the outstanding increments) for several months (possibly as late as the end of 2012). Although we know we have a strong argument for payment of the increments as a contractual right and the rate for the job, there are no guarantees
  • because of public sector predicted pay freezes your hourly rate will remain at 2010 levels until the outcome of the Employment Tribunal
  • members will have to be prepared to support some form of industrial action to pursue any better settlement.

We need you to tell us what you want to do. We as a Branch need a clear mandate on how to proceed on your behalf. The Ballot paper was issued on Tuesday 21 September and must be returned by Monday 27 September. This is because the Finance and Resources Committee meets on Tuesday 28 September whereby they may make a decision on this issue. Use your vote.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Press Release Latest Developments

UNISON welcomes latest developments in Aberdeen City Increments Row

A new proposal to settle the dispute over non-payment of the increment due to Aberdeen City Council staff is being welcomed as a step in the right direction by UNISON. Aberdeen City Council has released details of proposals to pay the increment due in April 2010 from November 2010.

Karen Maxfield, Branch Secretary for Aberdeen City Council UNISON says:-

"we welcome the Council's move towards paying the increment in full - this recognises our members' contractual rights and the great unhappiness that the proposal not to pay the increment at all caused. However, we are still in negotiations about the detail, need to consider all the implications and then consult our membership before any decision is reached. UNISON has not decided yet whether this proposal should be recommended to members."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Revised Increment Proposal

Discussions have been ongoing with the employer in light of our consultation paper and recommendation to reject.
The new proposal substitutes the saving from the national pay award being reduced from 1% to 0.65% being used in the basket of savings in place of the Non Standard Working Week element previously proposed.

The Branch Committee are meeting next Monday 6 September and they will take a decision on what action to take on the revised proposal.
We have been informed of the following:

The Scottish Employers have today withdrawn the offer made to SJC employees and now intend to impose the following;

2010/11 0.65%
2011/12 0%
2012/13 0%

The Joint Secretaries and Chair of the Trade Union Side met with the employers yesterday where we sought further discussions on reshaping and re distribution of the current offer. At no time did the employers indicate that they intended to withdraw the offer and impose a lesser one.

Your branch are very disappointed with Coslas stance on this. Unison had been willing to look at reshaping the deal that had been rejected and not necessarily looking for more money. It is very unfair that colleagues in England are to receive an improved offer and that Scotland, when not aware of the financial position is taking this stance. Unison leaders will meet on Friday 3 September to discuss what action will be taken regarding this imposition.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Consultation on Employer's Offer

Following the unanimous view from the Joint Trade Union Meeting on 24 August to reject the employer's offer, the Branch Committee are recommending that their members reject the offer.

You should have received a letter outlining why the Branch are recommending that the offer be rejected along with a consultative paper that has a return date of Friday 3 September. Please use your vote and return the form to give the Branch Committee a clear mandate from you, our members, on whether to accept or reject the offer.

Unison believe that you should reject the offer as:-
  • 1.5% is significantly less than the amount of increment that was due to be paid on 1 April 2010;
  • the reduction to non-standard working week allowance will have a severe impact on the take home pay of some groups of staff; some will see reductions in pay of up to £1000 a year; those at the top of the scale will also see a reduction in their pay; those in detriment will face a bigger reduction in salary when the pay protection ceases in 2012;
  • the reduction in Agency staff could have serious workload issues for some departments where agency staff have been used instaed of permanent staff;
  • the removal of First Aid, Fire Warden and Workplace Disturance Allowances will not only affect those due an increment;
  • Acting up Allowances and Higher Grade Duties Payments, ceasing these payments may mean greater reluctance to carry out higher grade duties to ensure service provision is maintained during periods of long-term sickness etc; those currently receiving this payment will see a reduction in pay;
  • the commitment to revert to the increment scale under EP&M on 1 April 2011 has been withdrawn; and
  • the Council have refused to give assurances of no compulsory redundancies.

Complete the form enclosed with your letter and return it to the freepost address as soon as possible. We need to know what you want us to do.

What is your contract worth?

If you breach your contract, you will face disciplinary action.

Your employer has breached your contract, what measures will be taken against them?
What are you prepared to do?

This is just the beginning of a reduction in your terms and conditions which, if allowed to go unchecked will only escalate the downturn in services for the citizens of Aberdeen.

We must act now!

Your branch have been in talks with the employer, advised them on the Employment Tribunals lodged and notified them of huge savings that can be easily made.

We now need you to tell us what you want us to do next.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Joint Meeting Outcome

At the joint meeting of Trade Unions on 24 August, an overwhelming view from 100% of the attendees was to reject the latest offer from the Council.

In this regard, we are now in the process of issuing a consultation letter and ballot paper to all of our members asking you to vote. We strongly recommend that the offer be rejected. This will be issued shortly and will have a return date of Friday 3 September. Make your vote count - reject the offer!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Payment of Increments - Aberdeen City Council Proposals Joint Union Meeting Tuesday 24 August 2010

A joint meeting of all Unions has been arranged for Tuesday 24 August at 4.30pm at the Beach Ballroom to discuss the latest proposals brought forward by the Council to pay part of the increments due to Council employees.

Unison has sought further clarification and guarantees on the new proposals developed by the Council which we can present to you at the joint meeting.

A strong turn out is imperitive, so please encourage as many of your Union colleagues to come along to join the debate.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Legal Update - non payment of Increments

The claim for unlawful deduction of wages has been lodged for 370 members. ACAS have advised the Council's position is that no decision will be taken until a meeting of the full Council in August. The Council has until 2nd August to lodge the ET3 (their response to our ET1) but in the meantime the Employment Tribunal Office has arranged a hearing for 24th August at 9.30am in Aberdeen.

Unite and GMB have lodged ET1s claiming sex discrimination and less favourable treatment of part time workers for non payment of increment. An article in todays Daily Mail suggests that our claims are the same as the GMB/Unite claims, which clearly they are not.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

UNISON calls on Council to 'do the right thing' over increments

Date: Wednesday 30 June 2010

Karen Maxfield, Secretary of UNISON Aberdeen City Branch spoke today to the full City Council meeting which was considering deferral of wages increments.

"A few years ago Audit Scotland condemned Aberdeen City Council because of the low morale and motivation of the employees. I despair what the impact of approving the deferral of increments will have to the responses submitted to the current staff survey.

"Many low paid women have already made financial sacrifices to avoid redundancy, they did this believing that at last they had a contract which gave their work value. They believed that the increments would reduce their financial loss. To further lower morale they have seen teachers receive increments and a 2.4% pay rise, is that fair?

"UNISON’s legal advice is clear we will sin this even if this goes to the Court of Session. Councillors are being asked to gamble tens of thousands of pounds on, “may have a reasonable chance”. Where will this money come from? Is this the best use of limited budgets?

"I ask Councillors to please do the right thing, morally and legally. Do not approve this report. Thank you."

Branch Secretary
UNISON Aberdeen City Branch

Friday, June 18, 2010

'Lobby at lunchtime' Thu 17 June - pictures

Pictures from yesterday's well-supported 'Lobby at Lunchtime' are online at UNISON Scotland Picasa gallery. Here's a sample below... click here to see them all

BBC News - Aberdeen City Council committee backs pay delay plan

BBC News - Aberdeen City Council committee backs pay delay plan:
Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Thursday, 17 June 2010 16:22 UK

Protest at Aberdeen City Council

A plan to withhold part of an annual salary rise this year for staff at Aberdeen City Council has been backed.

A consultation with staff and unions has been ongoing for the past three months, and officials have recommended withholding the incremental rise.

Members of the finance committee voted 10 to four in favour, but it was deferred to the full council on 30 June.

The local authority is looking at ways of saving £4.5m.

The afternoon meeting followed a lunchtime union protest at the town house.

Read more on BBC Scotland website...

Decision delayed on council pay freeze - Press & Journal

Decision delayed on council pay freeze - Press & Journal:
Unions make legal challenge vow over controversial plans

By Calum Ross
Published: 18/06/2010

Councillors in Aberdeen have backed controversial plans to withdraw automatic pay rises for thousands of staff, but a final decision has been delayed.

The local authority’s ruling Liberal Democrat-SNP administration attempted to push through plans to withhold pay-rise increments for 6,555 workers yesterday.

Administration councillors suggested at the finance committee meeting that more than 200 jobs could be axed to save the £4.5 million that would be gained from delaying pay rises for a year.

The move was agreed despite looming legal challenges and the threat of industrial action by trade unions, but opposition councillors referred the final decision to a meeting of the full council on June 30.

More than 50 members of staff gathered outside Aberdeen Town House yesterday to protest against the plans.

Read more on P&J site...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

'Lobby at lunchtime to stop pay cut' - Aberdeen Council UNISON

News release by Aberdeen City UNISON
Date: Tue 15 June 2010

UNISON, Aberdeen’s largest public sector trade union, is calling on Aberdeen City Council members to protest during their lunch-hour on Thursday 17 June, to warn councillors of the expensive consequences if they decide to defer paying thousands of council workers increments.

City councillors will meet on Thursday to vote on a recommendation to defer the annual increment due to workers who have not reached the going rate for their job.

Karen Maxfield, Branch Secretary of Aberdeen City UNISON, said:
"Withholding the increment is a breach of our contract, which the Council imposed on us only last year. If they defer, they won’t actually save any money at all because they will have to pay it next year instead.

Karen Maxfield said:
"Many hundreds of low paid workers are now entitled to an increment for the first time. We’re not talking huge sums of money here – a personal carer helping someone to stay in their own home will get £9.99 more a week after a year in the job, when she has got more skills and experience which enables her to give a better service to her clients. It will cost the council a lot more than that to defend a legal claim by her if she doesn’t get her increment. The top of the pay scale is the full rate for the job – it’s right that people have to work up to the full rate, but they have to trust their employer to pay it when they get there."

UNISON has lodged over 360 claims for members who are furious at the Council’s heavy-handed tactics.

The Council has already paid teachers their increment this year and many UNISON members who work in schools, such as Pupil Support Assistants, janitors, nursery nurses and school meal staff, say their work is being undervalued by not treating them the same as the teachers because they are as essential to providing a good educational experience.

UNISON is urging all council workers to defend their increments by joining the lobby of the Town House from 12 noon on Thursday.

* UNISON has discovered that the archive minutes for Aberdeenshire Council in the 1940s show that Aberdeenshire Council proposed withholding increments as the war was cutting into its finances.  After consideration the Council did not consider war to be a circumstance severe enough to withhold the increments their staff were due.

Karen Maxfield, Aberdeen City UNISON Branch Secretary, said:
"If war wasn’t enough in the 1940s, what reason could be good enough now?"

Notes for editors:

1. Aberdeen City Council Finance and Resources Committee is considering the ‘Employment Costs’ report at 2pm on Thursday 17 June, which recommends deferring increments due on 1st April 2010 for one year.

2. 6555 staff out of 8,962 should have received an increment on 1 April 2010.

3. UNISON and other trade unions are holding a joint lobby of the Town House at 12 noon on Thursday 17 June.

4. UNISON is distributing thousands of leaflets round council workplaces urging workers to protest to protect their rights.

Stay in touch with Aberdeen City UNISON news and campaigns on our blog http://aberdeencityunison.blogspot.com/