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Work Voice Pay

“Welcome to the latest edition of Work Voice Pay Monthly, as a part of Unite’s industrial strategy, each month we will bring you the latest bargaining data and news.”

Sharon Graham, Executive Officer – Work Voice Pay

 

 

"Covid-19 has supercharged automation and plans to rip-up RPI. We need to focus on the workplace."

says Sharon Graham

The impact of Covid-19 on jobs, pay and conditions will be with us for some time and yet many of the challenges we face are familiar and now we have a choice about what comes next. How do we tackle job losses, the pay squeeze and the rise of new firms undercutting our agreements? More of the same cannot be an option.

The pandemic supercharged change that was already underway - automation has been one of the chief beneficiaries, including powerful new methods of workplace surveillance. It also confirmed to the Government that scrapping the Retail Price Index would be necessary to keep a cap on pay - a kind of velvet coup for pay restraint. And as the health pandemic begins to ease, the political bubble will now turn its attention to paying back debt.

With the Government in power for several years yet and the Labour Party again looking divided and bereft of any coherent vision, it is time to admit that - at least short-term - Westminster won't be the answer. We have no choice other than to look to ourselves. To believe in the Union and the power we hold within ourselves. Politicians have failed. Now it is time to be Union.

Before the pandemic we had set out a clear, practical plan to tackle our industrial decline. The ‘Top 10’ strategy was based on one premise - rebuild our shop stewards base and grow power at the workplace. We need to put our focus firmly on our core business - jobs, pay and conditions. We need to push on, not retreat and deal with firms like Amazon who undercut our pay and conditions. Firms like this don't just affect the Sectors they dominate, their impact is felt throughout the economy, helping to set the pace of pay and conditions more widely. We cannot shrug our shoulders as major employers grow in our industries without Unions. Now it is time for Unions to step up to the plate - workers need us more than ever.

In solidarity,

Sharon Graham, Unite Executive Officer

sharon.graham@unitetheunion.org

 

 

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produced its latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) in November 2020. This can be a useful tool for activists to benchmark against in pay rounds. See how your pay compares to the median pay of workers in your industry or region.

Industry and Regional Data

CODE STANDARD INDUSTRY CLASSIFICATION MEDIAN £ PER WEEK ANNUAL % CHANGE
A AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHING 495.00 3.3
B MINING AND QUARRYING 808.60 5.1
C MANUFACTURING 575.00 -3.0 
D ELECTRICITY, GAS, STEAM AND AIR CONDITIONING SUPPLY 785.70 2.5
E WATER SUPPLY; SEWERAGE, WASTE MANAGEMENT AND REMEDIATION ACTIVITIES 630.80 -0.5 
F CONSTRUCTION 588.00 -9.5 
G WHOLESALE AND RETAIL TRADE; REPAIR OF MOTOR VEHICLES AND MOTORCYCLES 480.80 -1.7 
H TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE 605.00 0.8
I ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD SERVICE ACTIVITIES 383.30 -6.1 
J INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION 795.30 3.8
K FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE ACTIVITIES 800.40 1.9
M PROFESSIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ACTIVITIES 680.00 -3.4 
N ADMINISTRATIVE AND SUPPORT SERVICE ACTIVITIES 501.40 1.9
O PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND DEFENCE; COMPULSORY SOCIAL SECURITY 651.10 1.7
P EDUCATION 634.50 0.7
Q HUMAN HEALTH AND SOCIAL WORK ACTIVITIES 563.40 2.0
R ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION 486.90 -0.3 
S OTHER SERVICE ACTIVITIES 507.70 1.3

 

ONS NATIONAL REGION MEDIAN £ PER WEEK ANNUAL % CHANGE
UNITED KINGDOM 585.50 0.1
ENGLAND 589.90 -0.4 
NORTHERN IRELAND 528.60 -1.1 
SCOTLAND 592.70 2.7
WALES 537.80 0.6

 

ONS ENGLISH REGION MEDIAN £ PER WEEK ANNUAL % CHANGE
LONDON 760.70 3.1
EAST 574.90 -1.0 
EAST MIDLANDS 552.00 3.1
NORTH EAST 521.40 -2.2 
YORKSHIRE & HUMBER 538.90 0.0
NORTH WEST 559.60 1.7
SOUTH EAST 608.60 -0.9 
SOUTH WEST 550.10 -0.3 
WEST MIDLANDS 552.50 0.0


ASHE also records the average median pay for occupational groups.

Occupational Data

CODE STANDARD OCCUPATIONAL CLASSIFICATION MEDIAN £ PER WEEK ANNUAL % RISE
1 MANAGERS, DIRECTORS AND SENIOR OFFICIALS 852.90 -1.1 
11 CORPORATE MANAGERS AND DIRECTORS 918.00 -2.3 
12 OTHER MANAGERS AND PROPRIETORS 593.70 -2.5 
2 PROFESSIONAL OCCUPATIONS 776.90 1.1
21 SCIENCE, RESEARCH, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONALS 810.70 -0.9 
22 HEALTH PROFESSIONALS 745.30 0.7
23
TEACHING AND EDUCATIONAL PROFESSIONALS
776.00 2.8
24 BUSINESS, MEDIA AND PUBLIC SERVICE PROFESSIONALS 781.20 0.6
3 ASSOCIATE PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL OCCUPATIONS 609.50 -2.4 
31 SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATE PROFESSIONALS 555.80 -2.4 
32 HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE ASSOCIATE PROFESSIONALS 509.30 0.0
33 PROTECTIVE SERVICE OCCUPATIONS 769.10 2.5
34
CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORTS OCCUPATIONS
521.00 -5.3 
35 BUSINESS AND PUBLIC SERVICE ASSOCIATE PROFESSIONALS 645.10 -3.8 
4 ADMINISTRATIVE AND SECRETARIAL OCCUPATIONS 462.60 1.2
41 ADMINISTRATIVE OCCUPATIONS 469.50 1.7
42 SECRETARIAL AND RELATED OCCUPATIONS 419.60 -1.7 
5 SKILLED TRADES OCCUPATIONS 507.00 -6.3 
51 SKILLED AGRICULTURAL AND RELATED TRADES 411.20 0.0
52
SKILLED METAL, ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC TRADES
566.70 -7.1 
53 SKILLED CONSTRUCTION AND BUILDING TRADES 509.50 -6.7 
54 TEXTILES, PRINTING AND OTHER SKILLED TRADES 401.80 -7.2 
6 CARING, LEISURE AND OTHER SERVICE OCCUPATIONS 401.90 2.5
61 CARING PERSONAL SERVICE OCCUPATIONS 402.80 3.7
62 LEISURE, TRAVEL AND RELATED PERSONAL SERVICE OCCUPATIONS 397.60 -3.0 
7 SALES AND CUSTOMER SERVICE OCCUPATIONS 395.00 0.1
71 SALES OCCUPATIONS 375.00 0.6
72 CUSTOMER SERVICE OCCUPATIONS 431.90 0.8
8 PROCESS, PLANT AND MACHINE OPERATIVES 476.90 -5.3 
81 PROCESS, PLANT AND MACHINE OPERATIVES 444.00 -3.9 
82 TRANSPORT AND MOBILE MACHINE DRIVERS AND OPERATIVES 507.90 -6.8 
9 ELEMENTARY OCCUPATIONS 397.00 0.4
91 ELEMENTARY TRADES AND RELATED OCCUPATIONS 406.20 -2.3 
92 ELEMENTARY ADMINISTRATION AND SERVICE OCCUPATIONS 392.80 0.9
  ALL EMPLOYEES 585.50 0.1

 

The latest RPI figure shows inflation at 1.4%

Cost of Living - Going Up

The latest RPI figure shows inflation at 1.4%

On 17 February the UK Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the latest Retail Price Index (RPI) figure. This provides the RPI rate to 12 January 2021. It shows that prices are up 1.4% from a year ago.

 

Clothing and footwear are up 4%

Women’s clothes have risen 7.6%, while new gear for the kids is 3.4% more expensive than last year. Other clothing is also up by 4.5%.

 

Household services are up 2.2%

Each of the areas within household services has gone up faster than headline inflation over the last twelve months. Items include postage 11.5% higher, phone bills up 1.9% and domestic services costing 2.6% more.

 

Leisure goods are up 4.4%

The cost of toys, photographic and sports goods has increased 7% and CDs and tapes cost 5.2% more. Hi-Fis and TVs are up 4.6%, while gardening products cost 3% more than a year ago.

 

Personal goods and services are up 2%

Personal services (such as dental charges and residential and nursing home fees) which are up 4.9% on last year.

 

Fares and other travel costs are up 4.8%

Bus and coach fares have increased an astronomical 21.7% over the last year. Other travel costs are 3.8% more expensive.

 

Household goods are up 3.2%

Furniture is 6.6% more costly than a year ago while electrical appliances increased by 3.3%. Furnishings have gone up by 3.9% over the same period.

 

Housing is up 2.6%

Rent is 2.2% more costly than a year ago and council tax and rates have gone up by 3.9% over the same period.

RPI Items Breakdown

Here are the latest figures for all the Retail Price Index (RPI) items.

 RPI ITEMS  Annual % Change
 ALL ITEMS 1.4
 Food -0.6
 Catering 1.5
 Alcoholic drink 0.7
 Tobacco 5.8
 Housing 2.6
 Fuel and light -8.9
 Household goods 3.2
 Household services 2.2
 Clothing and footwear 4.0
 Personal goods and services 2.0
 Motoring expenditure -1.1
 Fares and other travel costs 4.8
 Leisure goods 4.4
 Leisure services 2.0

 

NOTE: Why RPI not CPI?

Unite strongly recommends using the Retail Price Index (RPI) for negotiations because it more closely reflects the actual price rises experienced by Unite members. The RPI has been going since 1947. It is still used to decide prices such as mobile phone bills, rail fares, student loans and ‘sin’ taxes e.g. alcohol. 

Some employers prefer the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which the government introduced in 2004 as a measure of inflation. The CPI is calculated using a different mathematical model which tends to make it lower. It includes the spending of groups not usually relevant to our negotiations. It doesn’t include the price rises our members experience in paying for mortgages or foreign holidays.

In RPI but not in CPI  In CPI but not in RPI
Mortgage payments The top 4% of households by income
What you spend on holiday Pensioner only households 
  Stock brokers fees
  Spending by foreign tourists

 

Sector “Top 10s”

Targeting the most powerful employers in each of our sectors

Who are the most powerful employers in your sector? Not the ones that have the most Unite members, but the employers with most market power. These are most often the employers that set the standards others will follow. Reps fighting for better work, a stronger voice and higher pay have a much harder job on their hands when there are big, powerful non-union employers in their sectors ready to undercut and drive down standards. So, knowing who the key players really are is important for all of us. Recently though Work, Voice & Pay, our Union’s Broad Industrial Strategy we have been able to identify them for the first time.

There are reasons why this had not been done before – it isn’t easy. The best way to figure out who the biggest companies are in a particular Unite sector is to look at how much revenue they generate in that sector. But working out how much revenue a company makes from a single sector in the UK can be hard. Unite sectors - based on membership and representation - often don’t map across to the ‘sectors’ used outside the union (either based on the Office for National Statistics’ SOC codes or on certain markets for products or services as defined by investors). Lots of big companies also straddle many sectors and many national markets but their accounts tend to lump this income together. It also means dealing with moving targets, not only because the fortunes of companies change over time but also because their very structures change, as they are subject to mergers and acquisitions. And of course, we need a whole different set of criteria for public sector and not-for-profit employers.

But we worked hard to overcome these obstacles and we now know who these employers are. We call them the ‘Top 10s’ (although there aren’t always 10 of them). By matching these employers with data on unionisation we can paint a picture of each sector which can help us make decisions about how to deploy our resources.

As you will see in the following example, Top Companies in Unite's Road Transport Commercial, Logistics and Warehousing Sector, this research makes it easy to see which companies are pace-setters that can negotiate and push up and which are the under-cutters that need to be organised and pulled up to the standards enjoyed by others in the sector. The National Industrial Sector Committees have already been presented with the data for their sectors and we have recently been working on updates, including a look at how COVID-19 has changed these employers. By having a focused and targeted approach to ‘Top 10’ employers, we can build the Union and give all reps the best possible chance to raise terms and conditions throughout our sectors.

 

Top Companies in Road Transport Commercial, Warehousing & Logistics Sector

Key to the Table

 

Bitesize Bargaining

Don’t Stop Using RPI

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, many Shop Stewards will soon be negotiating new pay deals. In order to work out whether a proposed pay rise represents an increase in real terms, you need to know how the cost of living has changed over the last year. The best tool available for assessing that is the Retail Price Index (RPI), which we report in this publication.

Many of you will also know that in November last year, the UK Government announced plans to end RPI reporting in February 2030. That is a potential threat to collective bargaining. Regular Work Voice Pay Monthly readers will be aware that Unite does not consider the proposed alternative – the CPIH – to be as good at reflecting actual cost of living increases for unite members. CPIH is also calculated using a different mathematical model which tends to make it lower than RPI (hence its popularity with employers). So, we strongly advise members not to accept any proposals to switch over.

Interestingly, it would not just be collective bargaining that would be hit by the loss of the RPI. Many financial products, such as gilts and some annuities are based on RPI. Then there are all the final salary pensions whose RPI increases are enshrined into scheme rules. Indeed some of those pension funds are considering a legal challenge against the Government’s decision.

But however that pans out, Work Voice Pay has got your back. As a result of work we have conducted, the Organising and Leverage Department has plans in place that will allow us to track prices properly, creating a Unite Cost of Goods and Services Index (UGSI), using exactly the same data and formulas that the Government uses for RPI currently.

And we will not stop there. RPI is a great tool but it can be improved upon. We are currently working on a formula that will allow us to benchmark pay bargaining - a Unite Negotiators’ Benchmark. This formula will take account of rising costs (using RPI or UGSI) but also the employer’s ability to pay and Union power at the workplace, to deliver a headline figure – a basic estimate of the value of settlement that we should be looking for. Of course, this will be a guideline figure, not a hard target and on occasions there will be further mitigating circumstances that must be taken into account. However, Work Voice Pay is all about helping workers to push forwards, not fall backwards. Whatever the Government does, we will be working hard to help reps stay ahead of the game and set the pace on pay and conditions.

To use RPI automatically as part of your pay claim go to:

https://unitetheunion.org/work-voice-pay/pay-claim-generator-gb-ni/

 

 

 

 

Staying Safe

You may now only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home. That leaves a lot of workers still having to deal with the health and safety at work issues brought up by COVID-19. This includes, but is not limited to, people who work in:

  • Critical national infrastructure sectors (Chemicals, Civil Nuclear, Communications, Defence, Emergency Services, Energy, Finance, Food, Government, Health, Space, Transport and Water)
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Childcare or education
  • Essential public services

If you are one of these workers try to make sure:

  • You have a current up to date risk assessment detailing procedures for protection of workers. Ensure consultation is taking place including production of guidance around risk assessments. Challenge if this is not taking place.
  • Your employer is providing all you need to stay safe including facilities for washing, soap and hand sanitisers. Also appropriate training, instructions and signage.
  • Workers can self-isolate with no loss of pay and that there are management procedures in place to protect vulnerable people in line with government guidance and the Equality Act 2010.

For more information on staying safe at work during the pandemic, read the latest government advice and take a look at our Work Voice Pay COVID-19 Checklist and Unite’s Coronavirus Work Rights guidance. Other resources can be found in material compiled by Hazards and by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

If you are a Unite rep and you have suggestions for other WVP tools, Executive Officer, Sharon Graham would welcome your input.

Email: sharon.graham@unitetheunion.org

If you don’t have your login details just email david.wesson@unitetheunion.org