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Guidance for CYWU Section members on the Local Government dispute 16th and 17th July 2008

Posted on Friday, July 04, 2008

Guidance for CYWU Section members on the Local Government dispute 16th and 17th July 2008

The Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) will soon be going out to a formal consultation with members on the current position.  However, the pay offer for Local Government workers employed under the NJC terms and conditions has already been rejected in ballots by Unite and Unison.  Industrial Action is being planned for July 16th and 17th and clearly members paid on NJC terms and conditions (Green Book) who have been balloted for this action should participate in it.  CYWU Section of Unite members who have not been balloted for action should seek to support the Industrial Action planned as fully as possible.  CYWU Section of Unite is fully supportive of this action because we recognise that we may well be in the same position very shortly.

When Industrial Action is taking place, it may mean that you will face picket lines and our advice therefore in those circumstances is as follows:

• If possible seek to work in a different venue.
• Only undertake your normal duties and do not in any circumstances undertake duties that members on strike would normally do.
• Ensure that the work that you will be carrying out has been properly risk assessed and if not because of shortage of staff or other results from the Industrial Action, do not undertake work which you consider to be unsafe.
• If you believe in any circumstances that the situation is unsafe then you should withdraw from the workplace, advise management and ask for safe access to the place of work and a safe working environment which is the management’s responsibility to provide.

Refusal to cross an official picket line could render members of staff liable to disciplinary action for breach of contract although the Local Government Employers do not recommend such action:

Under normal circumstances, a breach of contract on the part of an employee will result in disciplinary proceedings. However, such action is generally inappropriate in cases of industrial action and authorities are recommended against it. However, warnings about misconduct arising from the industrial action should be given.”(www.lge.gov.uk)

If you refuse to cross a picket line it will be likely that your employer will count you as being ‘on strike’ and will have your pay deducted accordingly. This may also affect your pension:

“As far as the Local Government Pension Scheme is concerned, absence on strike for a day or more will not count as pensionable service. The employee can, however, restore lost service by choosing to pay extra contributions at the rate of 16% of lost pay. But the election to pay these contributions must cover all of the period of absence. If these contributions are paid, service will be regarded as having been continuous. An employee wishing to pay such extra contributions must notify his or her authority within 30 days beginning with the day on which he returns to work (or on which he ceases to be employed, if he ceases to be employed without returning to work) or such longer period as the authority may allow. However, whether or not the employee pays 16% for the strike period to count as pensionable service, he must continue to pay any Additional Regular Contributions (ARCs) that he was paying to purchase extra pension and any extra contributions he was paying to purchase added years of membership.” (www.lge.gov.uk)
 
The exception to this is where there are genuine grounds to believe that crossing the picket line could put the person concerned at risk of injury.
Where picketing takes place, employees not directly involved in the industrial action may refuse to cross picket lines. Such employees can normally be regarded as being on strike and treated accordingly. Occasionally however, employees may be willing to cross picket lines but are reluctant to do so for fear of their safety. In such circumstances, the authority should try and ensure that the employee is given every protection in crossing the picket line, or where practicable, is given the opportunity to work at another establishment. If the authority considers the employee has made every effort to cross the picket line but was unable to do so, then the authority may decide not to treat their absence as industrial action.”( www.lge.gov.uk)

Responses to industrial action will vary from employer to employer, and local branches will need to seek further clarity from their particular authorities.

Unite activists involved in the dispute will be informed of this guidance.  If you have any queries about the most appropriate form of support or if you receive any threats from your management, please contact either CYWU National office or your Regional Industrial Organiser.  CYWU Section of Unite will be sending messages of support to both Unite and Unison branches and local CYWU Section of Unite branches are asked to send messages of support to the local Union branches and we are also encouraging members to attend any local rallies in their own time and to write letters of support to colleagues taking action.

 

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