The NJC Executive met on Wednesday 9 June to discuss the Employers’ offer of a 1.5% pay increase for 2021.

UNISON’s negotiating team made it very clear that in the context of our claim, the years of real terms pay cuts and the work done by our members throughout Covid, the 1.5% was an insult. We said that members need and deserve more, and that their reaction to the offer had been extremely negative.

We explained the work done by members throughout Covid, often putting their own health and safety at risk to support communities and provide services.

The employers acknowledged our points and recognised the work members have done, but said that finances were very tight. While acknowledging this, we said that we needed the employers to join with us and campaign jointly for more central government funding for local government pay.

The employers had also asked for more details about three issues in the accompanying conditions claim, specifically on maternity/paternity/parental/adoption leave, homeworking, and mental health.

For UNISON, maternity/paternity/parental/adoption is an important subject, and we listed a number of areas within it where the NJC provisions compare unfavourably to other parts of the public sector and where we feel improvements need to be made.

However, UNISON left the employers in no doubt that our priority for negotiations remains the pay uplift, and obtaining an improved pay offer.

The employers said they needed to go back and consult the full Employers’ Side, and we impressed on them the need to move things on as quickly as possible.