GMB Scotland & Our Rejection of the COSLA Pay Offer
You will have seen my communication to everyone last week that the GMB COSLA Delegates have decided we recommend our members reject the final offer from COSLA for this year’s pay award.
As GMB reps and as the leaders in your workplace members will be asking you what is going on and what will happen next, so I thought it’s important I wrote to you and gave you that information.
First of all, it is right that we have taken this stance. The offer isn’t good enough and there is no point sitting on the fence waiting to see what happens or hoping for an intervention. GMB is building a reputation now of defending our members interests and not letting others decide our future. Our engagements with COSLA on local government pay should be no different.
So why have we recommended that members reject the offer?
· There was no negotiation – We submitted our claim and they came back with a final offer, we expect to sit around the table and discuss the claim and how best we use the money available for pay. That is how negotiation works. For COSLA to decide that they will just dictate what you will be offered undermines each and every GMB rep and member is not on. Neither will Derek Mackay dictate what local government workers get paid. So if we sit back and let pay be imposed on us, then what is the point in us running pay surveys and engaging with our members?
· The offer is well below what we asked for – We started off looking for a £2 an hour increase across the board, then had to work with the other trade unions to submit a joint claim, agreeing collectively to go for £1500 or 6.5% whichever is higher. The flat rate for the lowest paid would ensure they get a fair deal. We have been offered 3% across the board for lowest paid while the highest earners will get £1600 flat rate. It’s unacceptable.
· The offer is blatantly unfair – We cannot agree to a situation where the chief executive gets £1600 on top of their £130,000+ salary while the catering, cleaning, home care, refuse workers, classroom assistants and social workers get from about £250 to £600 a year. This pay offer has to address a decade of austerity and the growing inequality between the lowest and highest earners. As it stands, it fails on both counts.
· The offer abandons the lowest paid – COSLA have stated they will no longer pay the lowest paid the biggest increases; they agreed 4 years ago to look at consolidating the living wage into the spinal column points and work with us on how we look at the differentials. They haven’t done that but that is not the workers fault so why should our members suffer. They need to look again at differentials and a flat rate increase will ensure they don’t get any worse while making sure everyone gets a decent increase.
· The offer doesn’t build on the living wage minimum – For the last few years GMB has fought to ensure the Scottish Local Government Living Wage (SLGLW) is the absolute minimum a worker will be paid. This is where the starting rate is increased to the new living wage rate and then the percentage / payment increase is added. With that calculation we had hoped the SLGLW would be £9.01 rather than the £8.77 they have offered. The minimum rate in the offer doesn’t come close to meeting our expectations.
So what happens next?
GMB will run a consultative ballot of our local government membership from Monday 7 May to Friday 15 June. Wherever possible this will be run in the workplace, with postal ballots running only where a workplace ballot is not logistically possible. You will have the full support from your GMB officer and the organising team if required and campaigning resources will be provided in advance. You will receive a ballot box, ballot papers and a membership list from your GMB officer.
Non- GMB members can join the GMB and get a vote so you will also receive application forms for them to get involved in his important fight for a decent wage rise. Non-GMB members won’t get a vote but will be bound by whatever the joint trade unions agree so make sure the non-members know that. The majority of local government staff are not trade union members. Joining is quick and easy and can be done online at www.gmb.org.uk/join
As ever, if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01382 225491
GMB Scotland Senior Organiser
Posted: 24th April 2018