On Monday 2 September the Local Government Association (LGA) held the first of it’s consultative “Regional Pay Roadshows” in the North East region.

The event was led by Harry Honnor, Principal Negotiating Officer at the LGA, and all 12 councils in the region were represented.

At the start of the meeting regional officers from UNISON, GMB and UNITE trade unions gave a presentation in support of their pay claim with the main elements being;

* minimum wage of £10 per hour (current minimum wage is £9.00 per hour);

* 10% increase on all other pay points;

* an additional 1 day’s leave on top of the NJC’s current minimum (21 days per year);

* a reduction in the standard working week from 37 to 35 hours.

The Trade Unions then left the meeting and Harry went on to give his presentation which looked at some background to the 2018-2020 two year deal and what’s happening in other parts of the public sector.

A number of questions were then asked of those attending regarding what level of pay increase in 2020/21 councils were budgeting for and the other aspects of the pay claim.

Responses provided both at the meeting and in writing separately will be used to form a regional response at a meeting of the NEREO Executive Committee to be held on 2 October 2019.

One caveat to all of the above is that national developments may require a complete re-think of any Employers’ Side position that may emerge following the completion of the Roadshows.  For example, if a General Election is to be called it is likely that the main parties will include in their manifestos a reference to the National Living  Wage (NLW) and the Labour Party is known to favour a rate of £10 per hour.

The other main parties may state something very similar and if, for example, a new government sets a policy of increasing the NLW to £10 per hour from 1 April 2020, this will have a significant impact on pay negotiations in local government and may well require a further review of the national pay spine.

For this reason and because of further uncertainty over the financial settlement for local government in 2020, negotiations are unlikely to be concluded quickly!