UNISON Scotland respond to GMB Pay Claim letter

UNISON Scotland has reacted angrily to a letter sent out by the GMB union to members regarding the Local Government Pay Claim. In a circular to branches, UNISON lead negotiator Dougie Black says:

“The GMB have chosen to attack UNISON regarding the fact that we have rejected the employers on Pay this year. Not only is there letter to their members inflammatory but it is factually inaccurate.

“Let me just set the record straight. Tony Dowling states that UNISON did not inform the GMB of our intention to reject the offer. At the time the offer from the employers was made the joint trade union negotiating body, which is made up of UNISON, GMB and Unite, decided to seek views from their respective local government bodies on the basis that the offer was not good enough and did not meet the claim either in its value or on the basis that it was not a flat rate offer across the board.

“There was a clear message from this meeting that the offer should be rejected. It appears that UNISON are the only trade union that can be relied on to take such a message back to our Local Government Committee and also appears that we are the only trade union to stand up for Fair Pay in Local Government.

“UNISON’s recommendation was to reject the offer and this was overwhelmingly adopted by our members in our consultative ballot by a margin of 77.6% to 22.4%. Indeed the number of UNISON members voting to reject outweighed the total combined members of both GMB and Unite across local government in Scotland.

“There is no indication at this time that COSLA will impose a 1% pay increase. Due to local government elections taking place on 4th May COSLA does not have any political leadership in place. All COSLA business in relation to pay will be deferred until the first COSLA Leaders meeting following the election on 26th May.

“For the GMB to scaremonger in this way is frankly disgraceful but given it is UNISON that has rejected this offer I would suggest that we are not only the only union standing up for low paid members but also the only union prepared to fight for a decent pay rise for them.

“It would also appear that GMB’s position on pay has weakened. Apparently they are now prepared to support a deal that is ‘weighted’ towards the lowest paid rather than a flat rate offer for all members. This is contrary to the position taken throughout the negotiations by their negotiating team including Tony Dowling and suggests a lack of commitment to low paid members.

“UNISON is moving towards a full industrial action ballot on the basis of our members clear views in the consultative exercise. It would have been our preferred option that the other trade unions would also have supported this however that clearly is not the case. As the largest trade union in local government by quite some distance UNISON will always speak for the majority of trade union members within local government.”

GMB Letter

Dear GMB Member GMB Scotland in Local Government – COSLA Pay Offer Update

This year’s local government pay award is potentially going to be delayed by Unison’s decision to reject the pay offer from COSLA. Despite this being a joint pay negotiation at no point have Unison advised us of their intentions to recommend rejecting the offer or to strike. You will remember that the offer you accepted is a flat rate £350 offer for those who earn less than £35,000 a year and 1% for those who earn £35,000 and above per year. This equates to a rise of 2.18 % for those who are on the lowest pay and takes the Scottish Local Government Living Wage to £8.51 per hour. As members of GMB Scotland you accepted the offer by 69%. Unite members voted by a bigger margin with 82% voting for acceptance. Your GMB Scotland negotiators fought hard to get the offer COSLA made and we got the final offer deliberately weighted to the lowest paid. As we explained when we balloted this was the best that could be achieved without taking strike action. During the negotiations the employers did threaten to impose a flat 1% pay increase. It is not for GMB Scotland to tell other Unions how to conduct their affairs but in light of Unison’s strike threat COSLA are again threatening to impose the 1%. If they do, it will really hit the poorest in local government; pupil support staff; caterers; cleaners, care workers and many other groups. GMB Scotland is not going to stand by and let the poorest paid get hit hardest by COSLA implementing a flat 1% pay deal. GMB Scotland wants a deal that is weighted to the lowest paid and we want the pay offer our members voted on to be honoured. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me on XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Kind regards
Tony Dowling
GMB Scotland Senior Organiser