Here are some of the questions and answers we discussed at the meeting held on 29 September.
Does the letter seeking voluntary agreement to variation of contract constitute a unilateral change of contract and is therefore illegal? Can we obtain an injunction?
Region’s response is: No it is NOT a unilateral change of contract. At this stage it is a request for individuals to agree. It is not illegal. That is the definitive legal view.
The letters have been dated 19th September. That is a lie – they were sent out from the Town Hall from Friday 26th September. The letters imply that the employer has given 4 weeks notices of their intention to send out dismissal notices.
Region’s view is that we can by all means raise it locally. Nothing else to be done. At this stage it is a request with no legal issues involved. We have raised the matter with management who acknowledged the date on the letter is an error but they do not intend to do anything about it. They are saying that they will not extend the deadline.
The letters do not contain the details of individual losses. Should they?
Region say that there is no requirement for this.
The Council have always said in consultation that the incremental pay freeze will be for two years. However, the variation document states that there will be no incremental rises until 2015 at the earliest. Can we do anything about that?
We raised this with management today and they agreed. They have put in the wrong date for possible reinstatement of the incremental pay rise. It should read 2014.
Is there any challenge we can make about the disproportionate impact on women, BME workers and the low paid?
Region say no. The council have acknowledged this may be true but will claim that the need to save money is imperative.
Is there anything we can do about the fact that the Council here are providing new grades for Chief Officers that will provide potential future earnings increases of up to £20,000 a year whilst at the same time cutting the salaries of low paid staff by varying amounts of up to £7,000?
Region say No. You can publicise it and try and shame them, but you cannot stop it.
The meeting was well attended and those present agreed that we should continue to try and arrange a formal strike ballot and that we should continue with a campaign of non-
co-operation and refuse to sign the variation document.
Thanks to all of you who showed up for the meeting. Remember to keep on lobbying the councillors and to keep talking about it at your workplace. Please let fellow UNISON members have this information.
(originally posted 4.10.11)