For the last ten years, Brighton and Hove UNISON has been fighting to address an equal pay issue affecting around 800 city council workers. The council has now agreed to proceed with a settlement that will see some of the lowest paid workers at the council be offered amounts as much as £2,000.
UNISON Brighton and Hove Unitary joint branch secretary Corinna Edwards-Colledge said:
“We are delighted that hundreds of key workers, including Care Workers, security staff, seafront officers and venue workers will now be being compensated for an historic inequality in how Brighton and Hove City Council pays its bank holiday workers.
“This is another example of the power of the collective voice that Trade Unions represent, and our branch’s prioritisation of fairness and accountability.”
The equal pay issue started in 2013 when a special bank holiday payment, the Resident’s Services Guarantee (RSG), was negotiated for workers in refuse and recycling. UNISON was not included in those negotiations at the time, so was unable to speak up for other workers.
However, since the implementation UNISON has continued to raise and publicise the issues created by the RSG. The majority of workers benefitting from the payment in Refuse & Recycling were men, and the majority of those employees also working bank holidays but not receiving the RSG were low paid women workers, with many of these working in the care sector. UNISON has continually fought for bank holiday pay to be levelled up so that there is no inequity for workers in different areas.
In 2021, Brighton and Hove UNISON lodged a formal dispute on the issue with the council. By summer of 2022 the branch had led on successful negotiations for a full and final offer from the employer of 70% of the difference between people’s current bank holiday pay, and the RSG backdated for six years; and an agreement to pay everyone at the same rate of the RSG until a new, fair system could be negotiated.
UNISON is delighted that after continuing to fight for this payment through several delays outside of our control, the employer has recognised the need to get this offer out to affected workers – most of which work in care.
Importantly, this means that all affected workers can now decide for themselves whether or not they wish to accept the offer made by the council to address historic inequality.
UNISON’s priority now, is to work with the employer to ensure everyone has a chance to look at their offer as soon as possible and decide if they want to take it. We will also be working hard to ensure any future bank holiday payment rewards all our workers the same, whether they work in Care, on our seafront, in Security and events or in Refuse and Recycling.
Affected workers have been contacting UNISON commenting on the offer from their employer:
Lindi, a care worker, said: “I am very grateful to my union for fighting this for us Brighton and Hove Council staff. This means a lot to me as we are all going to benefit. Thank you so much.”
Rose, a care worker, said: “Thanks to UNISON and your colleagues for taking this forwards. This settlement has made me feel valued and respected as an employee, which has been sadly missing from recent experience working for the council.”
Linda G, a UNISON local steward said: “Congratulations to everyone tirelessly involved in securing the settlement on behalf of Care Workers. This is another example of how UNISON locally is striving on behalf of the workforce to raise the profile and improve the terms and conditions for people in low paid, high impact jobs. Thank you UNISON, this pay award will make a significant difference to those of us – existing members and others yet to join, who routinely work bank holidays. If you are Care Crew and remain undecided about joining a union, get in touch with UNISON to discuss the many benefits of becoming a member.”
Jo, a care worker, said: “This pay-out is massive to me and I thank you for this! I still won’t be able to have the heating on but I will be able to pay the bills. Thank you so much on your achievement.”
Paul, a hostel worker, said: “With the current cost of living, my rent has gone up another £70, Gas, Electricity, Water, Phone bill, everything has gone up in line with the CPI which was 10.1%, and in fact my phone bill has gone up 14%. With everything going up so much, receiving a pay settlement would be a huge help in not getting into debt, and that everything coming in, isn’t simply going out on bills.”