UNISON pay offer action scuppered by Trade Union Act 2016

UNISON Scotland’s ballot for industrial action in the face of the COSLA pay offer dispute has been defeated, as the turnout was below the 50% threshold required by the Trade Union Act 2016. On 1 June, UNISON revealed that 22.8% of members voted with 62.7% voting in favour of industrial action.

Read about the UNISON ballot.

Back in April, Unite members overwhelming voted to accept the COSLA pay offer, with 82% voting to accept and 17% to reject. GMB also accepted, with 69% voting for the deal. UNISON, following a national campaign encouraging members to reject the offer, voted 77.6% to reject with only 22.4% voting to accept.

COSLA pay offer

1% pay rise for those earning over £35K or £350 rise for those earning under. For a worker earning £16K £350 is the equivalent of a pay rise of 2.19%.

The initial offer was 1% for those earning over £25K and £250 for those earning under, but this was increase following negotiations with trade unions.

This maximum pay increase of 2.19% for our lowest paid workers is in the face of

Conclusion

Had it all been four months’ earlier, there would have been the possibility of a strike. Already, we are seeing the effects of the Tories’ Trade Union Act. The 50% threshold is an attack on trade unions and the ability of workers to deny their labour.

We have to bear in mind that this rule was imposed on workers by a government that routinely allows turnouts below 30% to elect regional police commissioners in England and Wales. In the May 2016 England and Wales police and crime commissioner elections, only 7 of the 40 regions saw turnouts of over 30%. None had a turnout of over 50%. The same elections back in 2012 saw a historically low turnout of 15%. This election system was introduced by Theresa May, as home secretary, who said that despite the turnout the result was the ‘voice of the people’.

`This episode shows us that union advice weighs heavily on members’ decisions: Unite’s ballot letter recommended accept, while UNISON campaigned for reject. The overwhelming decisions in both cases are evidence that members respect the analysis of their unions when it comes to pay.

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