Thursday, 7 July 2016

A very busy week of collective bargaining......

I've (hopefully) helped resolve two "failures to agree" during the last week.

Company 1

The workers are contracted to work a minimum of 45 hours pw, although typically they do more like 55.  Through negotiations, a 2% rise was possible on basic pay.   The company does not pay overtime.

Our plan to is to improve conditions of service.  Rather than go for the 2%, we've managed to secure the establishment of an overtime rate.  Overtime will now kick in at 47.5 hours, payable at time and a quarter.   Over the course of this year, that will be much the same as getting a 2% increase.  But for every year in the future, the workers will gain.    The members would like time and a half, kicking in at 45 hours.  But we have to start somewhere, and we can build on this.  Collective bargaining is usually the taking of progress in achievable steps....

In return, we've recommended an offer that includes a low cost of living rise of just 0.7%. There's a small number of part-time workers who won't benefit from the overtime, but we have got them a one-off cash sum equal to 1.3%, which they will get in addition to the 0.7%.

We've also secured some small "bread n butter" wins.  Eg a contractual right to full payment for a shift if it's cancelled within 12 hours notice.   Over time, these little wins really do add up to a much better job....

There's no company sick pay scheme, and that will be a large focus of our efforts in future negotiations.

Last year there was no minimum length of the working day, meaning that you might get a 4 hour job, leaving you with extremely long days the rest of the week.  We secured a minimum day of 8 hours, even if the day was actually less than that.

There's so much good that can be done, without it costing an employer a fortune.

Company 2.

Negotiations dragged on months before I was asked to intervene.  A miserable 1% had been offered, and management were sticking to it.

Company poverty was being pleaded, but our stewards had no financial information about the employer. It appears that this particular division of the company is very profitable.  This employer hides it's great wealth very well as part of tax avoidance. I had a look at the info available at Companies House, and it revealed absolutely nothing of any use.

I put a collective bargaining disclosure request in.  This would have entitled me to details of profits and other info.  This sort of employer hates these requests, and will stop at nothing to avoid giving the info.  I'm told that some will even de-recognise a union rather than give the info.   With membership at over 70%,  I had little fear of that in this situation, but I didn't seriously expect the request to be complied with.  I calculated it would pressure them into the ballpark of reasonable, and so it has proved.

All our members wanted was a rise of 2%, as that's pretty much what other union workers in Burton have had.

It took a long meeting (six hours!) with ACAS to get to what I thought was a reasonable place. We've come away with 2% for this year, and 2% for next year.  Now that the bargaining for this negotiation is complete, the employer is no longer required to process the disclosure request.

Both offers are subject to members voting to accept.  I hope they will.  Neither of these offers could be improved by negotiations alone.

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