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PRESSURE MOUNTS TO REOPEN PAY TALKS

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Unison members are demanding their union reopens pay talks with the national employers in 1995. ...
Unison members are demanding their union reopens pay talks with the national employers in 1995.

This threatens the 21-month backdated deal agreed last October which was due to last until April 1996.

Many members were unhappy with the original deal, and their dissatisfaction has been increased by inflation rising from 2.4% to 3.3% in the intervening period.

All union branches polled this week by LGC said they wanted the leadership to push for an increase this year. The employers, however, will oppose any such move.

'The branch view is that they should go back to the employers and reopen talks,' said Chris Smith, Oxfordshire CC's branch convenor for manual workers.

Unison's local government service group executive meets next month to consider the results of the consultation. Head of local government Keith Sonnet said: 'There has been a lot of pressure nationally on the issue of whether we are going to put in a claim or not, particularly with inflation going up to 3.3%.'

The settlement reached last year worked out as 4.5% over 21 months, equivalent to 2.6% in one year. The settlement included a reopener clause, which would allow the trade unions to reactivate negotiations should inflation rise significantly. It states the issue would be considered at the beginning of June, with regard to inflation in April. Some analysts are predicting inflation will fall to 3% next month.

The employers will fiercely resist any attempt by Unison to reopen negotiations. They will argue that inflation is not running significantly higher than expected, that the revenue support grant settlement was even worse than expected and that having to negotiate a settlement for 1995 would damage the talks on progressing to single status employment.

'We have enough on our plates without this distraction,' said Association of Metropolitan Authorities assistant secretary Stephen Bubb. 'To reopen negotiations would mean further cuts in services.'

The prospect of harmonisation talks being derailed by pay negotiations will not deter rank and file members. White- collar workers have little to gain from single-status employment, and do not therefore see it as a priority compared with the desire for a pay rise.

'A number of APT&C branches are beginning to question the value of single-status talks,' said Paul Barry, chair of the confederation of Derbyshire unions. 'People are asking what's it for, what's it going to deliver and is it worth all the aggravation?'

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