Notice of industrial action in job evaluation dispute

Local Government escalation of industrial action paused. Staff outside the LGMA holding posters of love hearts, with the words job evaluation and love local government.

Fórsa served formal notice of industrial action on local authority chief executives yesterday, in an ongoing dispute with the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) over their refusal to establish a job evaluation scheme.

Fórsa members working in local authorities will begin their campaign of industrial action next week. It will commence with an indefinite ban on engagement on all political representations (both verbal and written) from Wednesday the 21st June 2023, followed by a telephone ban on Thursday 22nd June 2023, to include the use of work landline and mobile phones, work telephone calls via online platforms such as MS teams, work calls via social media platforms such as WhatsApp phone/video, and the use of personal mobile phones for work issues. The campaign is set to continue, with rolling action planned over the coming weeks.

Fórsa’s Head of Local Government and Local Services Richy Carrothers said that the union remains available to discuss derogation requests for emergency cover, providing that it is genuine emergency cover and limited in nature.

“We have been left with no other option but to escalate our dispute, this action is a last resort. We have a strong mandate from our members, and this dispute isn’t going to go away by ignoring it, which is exactly what the LGMA has attempted to do,” he said.

Richy said that the management’s refusal to negotiate or even conciliate using the state machinery for dispute resolution is “a clear breach of the current public service agreement aimed at ensuring industrial peace.”

“Fórsa representatives remain available for meaningful and solution-focused engagement, as has always been our position. A small window of opportunity exists right now to resolve the dispute by engaging in meaningful negotiations and to avoid escalation of this dispute, but that window is closing,” he stressed.

The union formally served notice to the LGMA management earlier this month (1st June), after members working in local authorities voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike action.

The union represents more than 10,000 local government and services workers including clerical, administrative, management, technical and professional staff.

Job evaluation, which has been established in the health and higher education sectors, is a process for measuring the relative worth of posts in an organisation based on the work a post-holder is doing or is expected to do. It is carried out so that fair levels of pay for different jobs can be set, rather than be based on subjective criteria or assumptions. Local authority workers in Britain and in Northern Ireland have had access to job evaluation for decades.

Fórsa maintains that local authority workers continue to take responsibility for additional duties and responsibilities assigned to them during the economic crisis, when 10,000 jobs were lost from the sector.

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