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With the final offer for 2013 pay for staff covered by the local government services NJC now on the table, GMB is embarking on a consultation of all members affected.  We will be doing this through a series of workplace meetings to be followed by a postal vote so that everyone has the opportunity to have their say in the decision whether to accept or not.  Although the offer itself is straightforward, the employers are threatening to start attacking the national terms and conditions known as the Green Book and this is something we must all defend together.

Following 3 years without a national pay rise and against a background of council budget cuts and a government pay cap, GMB and the other trade unions began the negotiations for 2013 with a determination to ‘break the freeze’.  The employers offered 1% with strings, that is to say making some conditions worse which would have actually caused some people to lose money.  That first offer was not acceptable so GMB and the other unions held further negotiations which resulted in the improved, final offer. This is therefore the offer for consultation:

–          A 1% increase on all salary points payable from 1 April 2013

–          The removal of the lowest pay spine point (SCP 4) from 1 October 2013

–          No strings

–          A one year deal

In considering the offer, it’s clear that 1% is a poor response from employers.  It doesn’t meet todays cost of living let alone make up anything that was lost from the 3 year freeze.  On the other hand, against the difficult economic backdrop for councils and the controlling hand of government holding pay down, breaking the cycle of zero pay awards is a positive start in rebuilding fairness for all NJC staff.  The removal of the lowest spinal column point (that is, the £6.30 rate) means that over 20,000 people willsee their hourly rate rise to £6.45, an increase of 2.4%.  That continues the GMB policy of aiming towards the Living Wage for everyone and is therefore welcome, although obviously we would have preferred even more progress. As a result of the general 1% and the extra for the low paid the offer is worth about £160m per annum.  The fact that there are no cuts to terms and conditions attached to the offer is helpful.

GMB senior reps from all over the country met on Friday 3 May to consider the offer and what to advise members.  Nobody felt that 1% was enough but the discussion was practical ; what would it take to get more?  An all-out strike? The honest assessment was that this was not likely in the current climate.  What is more, it was felt to be important to get a pay rise into our members’ pockets and break the freeze.  So the unanimous conclusion was that GMB should now move to an all-member consultation and in so doing recommend this offer for acceptance; not because it is a good offer (it isn’t) but because it is the best achievable through negotiation and there is no realistic prospect of improving it.  You, the members, will now decide and the process and timetable is set out below.

But as I pointed out at the beginning, there is a new threat looming.  One that has far reaching implications for all members everywhere.  It is this; because the employers could not persuade us to accept cuts to conditions, they have said they will no longer honour the Green Book national conditions.  The Green Book (so called because it used to be printed with a green cover) is the national agreement between the unions and the employers setting out the core terms and conditions for all staff covered by the NJC (your contract of employment will tell you this if you’re not sure or contact GMB for advice).  As a GMB member you can view or download a copy of the Green Book for free at

This agreement sets out the minimum rights and entitlements to pay, holidays, sick pay, working hours and many other things, fought for and won by GMB and the other trade unions on your behalf over many years.  It is supplemented by local agreements, again thanks to the TUs, but the Green Book remains the core standard of national conditions that you are entitled to.

As local government, service providers to councils and schools have been under pressure to cut costs they have in turn tried to push that onto staff, but the core national conditions in the Green Book have held firm.  We must make sure that the employers threat to what amounts to tearing up the Green Book is defeated.  Otherwise everyone’s basic terms of employment would be vulnerable with no collective agreement to protect them.  Here’s the bottom line; we saw off the threat to the pension scheme and we must fight to see off the threat to the Green Book.  It’s just as important.  For that reason I urge you to come to GMB meetings to discuss not only the pay offer but also the campaign to defend your terms and conditions, the Green Book.

GMB meetings will be taking place from mid May to mid June and if you want one at your workplace please contact your GMB office or let me know.  The ballot for the pay offer will run in the second half of June and close at the beginning of July.

Please show this bulletin to colleagues who are not in GMB so that they can join. They are entitled to have a say on their pay and we all need to pull together to defend everyone’s terms and conditions.

Brian Strutton

National Secretary – Public Services Section

Posted: 10th May 2013

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