UNISON members working in the YOU Trust have received their first pay rise in over a decade thanks in part to the contributions of local UNISON reps such as Darren Hart and Stephanie Churchill who were involved in the negotiations from beginning to end.
The pay deal is complex but perhaps the most striking aspect of the deal is that for the lowest paid, it is worth up to an inflation-smashing 6.2% as wages at the lowest levels are adjusted not only to accommodate the new National Living Wage but also to maintain the differential levels above this rate. All other employees, with the exception of senior management, gain at least an additional 1.0% – with most staff getting more than this basic increase. This payment is backdated to October 2019.
As Regional Organiser James Smith explains:
“Over the years of austerity pay has fallen behind the cost of living and inflation, and we have had to balance job security and sustaining existing employee benefits with trying to restore these losses in pay value. A major problem for the YOU Trust is that their key work is on contracts awarded by Councils, who themselves are under enormous financial pressure. Council’s rarely contribute fully to increases to the wages of the lowest paid staff resulting from increases in the National Living Wage, putting pressure on the wider paybill. But thankfully some employers are keen to try to provide more than just the very minimum when they can.”
A misleading element of former Chancellor George Osborne’s rebranding of the National Minimum Wage as the ‘National Living Wage’ is the cynicism of not linking this pay rate to the Real Living Wage. This means that the National Living Wage is set below the rate that provides for a basic standard of living.
But a close second is that it maintains the same age banding that makes the National Minimum Wage unfair. If you’re over 25, then from April 2020 the minimum you can expect to earn is the National Living Wage of £8.72 an hour. But for 18 to 20 year olds, the National Minimum Wage still applies – or £6.45 an hour. The harshness of this differentiation is obvious. The costs we all face do not make the same age distinctions. Can you imagine receiving a cheaper supermarket weekly shop just because you’re under 25?
But the YOU Trust will pay now the National Living Wage regardless of how old their employee is. This fairer and more responsible approach ignores the government’s barrier to better pay. Whilst UNISON will continue to strive to obtain the Real Living Wage securing this commitment is a step forward.
The YOU Trust has also agreed to maintain the current differences in pay for the jobs around those National Living Wage roles. Staff in these roles also received pay rises so that – to give a crude example – if you are paid £1 an hour more than a different role that pays the National Living Wage, you still will be paid £1 an hour more after the deal is implemented. This means that most YOU Trust staff will receive more than the minimum 1% increase.
For lower paid staff, this is a particular success and one that UNISON are proud to achieve. James concludes:
“We negotiated with the YOU Trust to win improvements to the overall benefits package last year and this year we have achieved significant changes in pay for many of our members. Some will be rewarded with comparatively large increases and we hope that the lump sum back-payment for those receiving 1% will help them make ends meet during these troubling times. It is encouraging that finally, after a decade, so many of our members will receive a pay rise. I want to thank everyone who voted on the offer at what is a very difficult time – your feedback is really important.”
UNISON negotiates pay and conditions for most of our 1.3 million members – and when we do, our members get to have a say in the outcome. Are you one of these members? If not, join UNISON