Thursday, 7 April 2011
Something to give your local Labour Councillors, Briefing note from Heather Wakefield
UNISON’S LOCAL ELECTION MANIFESTO
WHAT WE ARE ASKING LABOUR CANDIDATES TO SUPPORT
As the UK’s largest public service union, UNISON believes that local government services and local democracy are key to a thriving, cohesive and fair society. Local government should bring democracy and power closer to the people and we support community and workforce engagement in local service delivery. This is our Manifesto for Local Government. We hope all Labour local election candidates read it and make contact with us, so that we can work together for a real future for local government.
Our message to Labour councillors
Labour councillors need to show their local communities and their workforce that having a Labour council will make a difference when faced with the cuts forced on them by the Tory-led Coalition. We would like to see open and effective engagement with the workforce and trade unions, in a joint effort to defend services, jobs, pay and pensions. Labour councils need to be out in their local communities, campaigning against the vicious Government cuts, not just being seen to manage them. We want local people to know who is destroying their services and erasing local jobs and Labour councils which look for positive alternatives.
UNISON’S largest group of members work within local government and schools – over 700,000, employed throughout the structure – from the Chief Executive to the cleaner, from the Director of Children’s Services to the social work assistant and the school meals worker.
Tell it like it is!!
Local people need to know who is responsible for decimating their services and local employment. UNISON wants Labour councils and councillors to:
• Publicise widely that it is the Coalition government doing the damage through widespread publicity and meetings with local people
• Let local people know that the financial difficulties councils now face flow directly from the economic collapse caused by the financial institutions - not from investment in public services
Support your local economy and local community!
Coalition cuts will not only affect council jobs and services. Your local economy will feel the ripple effects as spending power falls and the private sector suffers. Cuts to voluntary and community sector projects will deprive local people of services and support when they need them most. UNISON is asking Labour councils and councillors to:
• Go public on the impact of the Coalition’s cuts on your local economy and the voluntary sector
• Take a medium term view of council finances – over 3 to 4 years – to help manage the current difficult financial situation
• Achieve deficit reduction through economic growth, job creation and tackling tax evasion
• Tackle council tax fraud
• Carry out an economic and social audit of all cuts to jobs, pay and conditions and services before they are implemented – look at the long-term
• Work with local businesses to influence the Government’s agenda
• Work with community groups and the voluntary sector to identify ways of maintaining key services
• Support calls for fairer taxation – such as the Robin Hood tax on financial transactions
Local government finance
The Local Government Association submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review said that councils would need an extra £20 billion by 2014/15 to maintain services and respond to an ageing population. Instead of addressing local need, the Coalition government is slashing funding and front-loading cuts. An extra £4.6 billion is needed to maintain existing levels of adult social care. The £1 million allocated by the Government is completely inadequate.
UNISON wants Labour councils and councillors to:
• Make all financial documents publicly available on one page of your council’s web site
• Draw up and publicise a ‘needs’ budget for your council area to show how the cuts will impact and to tell local people about Labour’s alternative for your community
• When looking at budgets for 2010/13 onwards, use Council Tax increases to mitigate the effect of the Government’s cuts
• Examine ways of generating income through appropriate charges, elimination of waste and energy generation
• Review expenditure on external agency staff and consultants
• Involve trade unions and service users in early identification of budget pressures , means of reducing them and related financial decisions
• Explore options such as a review of outsourced contracts to reduce profit at the expense of the public and the workforce and look at in-house options
• Review reserves and balances to examine appropriate use in a time of cuts
• Examine every possible alternative to privatisation. Budget problems wont be solved by handing services over to the private sector, as many consultants would claimSupport your workforce!
Local government workers and school support staff have been doing more for less for years, as efficiency savings have bitten into staffing levels. Pay and conditions are already the worst in the public sector and now they are facing a second year of a pay freeze, without even the £250 promised by the Chancellor for those earning less than £21,000 a year. That’s a massive 70% of our members doing vital jobs. Councils are using Section 188 notices to dismiss and re-engage our members on worse pay and conditions, showing no respect for their loyalty and experience. UNISON wants Labour councils and councillors to:
• Work with UNISON and the other unions to examine and agree options for dealing with the Coalition cuts
• Recognise that three quarters of your workforce are women, and many are part-time workers – there will be sex discrimination and equal pay issues when redundancies and cuts to pay and conditions arise
• Plan for a workforce for a better future, retaining as many committed and experienced employees as possible
• Look at up-skilling, redeployment and flexibility as an alternative to redundancy
• Recognise that local government needs to keep and attract high quality staff by maintaining pay and conditions above the ‘bargain basement’ they are being pushed into
• Maintain a commitment to Single Status and equal pay – abolishing or changing Single Status pay and grading structures could lead to a new wave of costly equal pay litigation
• Show your support for retaining the Local Government Pension Scheme by opposing increases in contributions which could push the scheme under as low paid workers leave it
Keep Equality High on Your Agenda
In recent years, councils have had to pay out millions of pounds in equal pay compensation because they have not complied with the law. This is a waste of public money, which can – and must - be avoided in a cuts climate. Councils need to ensure that changes to pay and conditions are not creating new legal issues.
• Make sure that as a councillor, you are informed about the public sector equality duties and equality is promoted within your council
• Make sure that your council has a commitment to carry out equality impact assessments of all proposals relating to services and the workforce
• Eliminate any discrimination arising from them
• Work with UNISON and the other trade unions in the process
• Ensure that your council has carried out a Single Status pay and grading review, using job evaluation schemes that comply with equal pay principles and the Equality Act 2010
• Make a commitment to annual equal pay reviews to ensure that pay and conditions comply with the law
• Make sure that equality criteria are built into the procurement process and contracts
Support Public Service Provision and Public Value
Outsourcing of local services means that public money is wasted through use of consultants, scoping exercises, transaction costs, the shareholder premium and inflated private sector management salaries. Accountability to local people is also lost. At the same time, pay, conditions and pensions are driven down to generate cost ‘savings’. UNISON supports ‘public value’ services, in which public money and an in-house workforce are put to the best possible use, in the interests of local people.
We want Labour councils and future Labour Councillors to:
• Support directly provided services as the best use of public money
• Look at the potential for changes to in-house services before tendering
• Include a well thought-out and resourced in-house bid if tendering has to proceed
• Review existing outsourced contracts and adopt a positive approach to bringing them back in-house
• Renegotiate contracts to reduce profit occurring at public expense
• Ensure that equality and a fair deal for the workforce are built into any contract
• Oppose attempts by the Coalition to remove the Fair Pensions provisions
• Continue to use the ‘Two-Tier Code’ principles, even though it has been abolished
• Make your council is a ‘TUPE Plus’ council, which guarantees to maintain quality pay and conditions throughout any contract
UNISON LOCAL GOVERNMENT, POLICE AND JUSTICE CONTACTS:
Heather Wakefield, Head of Local Government, Police and Justice - firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucille Thirlby, Deputy Head– email@example.com
Ben Priestley, National Officer, Police and Justice – firstname.lastname@example.org
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