Members health & well-being

UNISON local government staff accept new pay deal 

UNISON Council workers have agreed to accept a 2.75% pay offer for this year. Staff in the Local Government sector voted two to one (66%) in favour of the 2020/21 pay award, which will apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The union’s National Joint Council Committee accepted the offer from employers, but said it fell far short of the 10% claim and did not properly reward key workers for their exceptional contributions throughout the pandemic.

The NJC has also agreed that from 1 April 2020, minimum annual leave will increase from 21 to 22 days for employees with less than five years’ service. The National Agreement Part 2 Para 7.2 will therefore, with effect from 1 April 2020, be amended to read as follows:

‘7.2 Annual Leave The minimum paid annual leave entitlement is twenty-two days with a further three days after five years of continuous service. The entitlement as expressed applies to five day working patterns. For alternative working patterns an equivalent leave entitlement should be calculated.’


Unison North West Region Retired Members Committee



The Triple Lock is a mechanism used by the Government to determine the annual rise in the State Retirement Pension, (commonly known as the ‘Old Age Pension’) Under the triple lock the rate of inflation, the annual rise in earnings across the economy and 2.5% are compared, and the greater of these three
figures determines the rise applied to pensions, meaning that the rise is never less than 2.5%.

The Tory Government have been unhappy with this formula for a while, as it regularly produces rises in excess of price inflation and annual earnings rises, and government spokespersons have raised the idea of scrapping the Triple Lock formula on a number of occasions. What has to be understood is that the State Retirement Pension in the UK is low, and is only 24.2% of National
Average Earnings, normally it would take until 2038 to even reach 26% of national average earnings! (26% is the peak level, which was achieved as long ago as 1979).

But the situation is also complicated by the fact that people who retired before April 2016 receive a substantially lower pension than those retiring after that date. Our pension is also low by comparison with other similar countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, being around 29% of our working income, compared with the OECD average of 63%, whilst in Italy and the Netherlands the figure is more than 80%!

The Coronavirus crisis has created an unusual situation, because workers who were furloughed on 80% of their usual earnings, and who will return to their usual earnings when they return to work will statistically create a rise in earnings across the economy of around 18%, and this is panicking the Government because of the impact on the Triple Lock.

The National Pensioners Convention have called for urgent talks with the Government in an attempt to retain the Triple Lock, which we hope are successful, but the fundamental issue of bringing the UK pension up to a comparable level with similar countries is crucial, and if that takes a one off rise of 18% then so be it!

Roger Bannister
UNISON North West Region Retired Members Committee



Covid-19 has already brought many challenges to us all and we should expect further challenges in the foreseeable future.

But what will be the new normal?

St Helens Council appears to have pressed the reset button to radically rethink the way Council employees operate.

The Council have already engaged a small number of staff for Q&A sessions, with more planned.  We would encourage our members to take part in these sessions and raise issues that may concern you.

If you do not want to take part, but have issues that you want to raise in confidence, please email the branch and we will raise them for you.

The proposed changes are new to us all, including the trade
union, but we would like to reassure you that we will be fully
engaged in supporting our members through what is a radical change to working practices.

There has never been a more important time to be part of UNISON– Strength in Numbers!  Encourage your colleagues to JOIN.

Mike Swift                               Neil Woods
Branch Secretary/                   Convenor