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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 February 2009

Victory for Salford Unison

Local government unions in Salford, led by Unison, have secured important concessions from Salford council in relation to job evaluation (JE).

Steven North, Central Manchester and Salford Socialist Party

When it announced its job evaluation proposals in September, Salford City council decided to withdraw all shift allowances for unsociable hours for its staff. This meant that staff required to work nights and weekends as part of their job would be denied the enhancements they are currently paid.

This was correctly condemned by Salford Unison, the largest union branch within the council, but with an absence of a campaign strategy on how these allowances could be reinstated. Left stewards within the branch proposed demonstrations and the threat of an industrial action ballot to fight the dispute and this was agreed at the branch committee.

After three demonstrations and with the threat of a ballot over their heads, the council has decided to reinstate the allowances. This concession is important and is rightly being celebrated by council staff, but the battle for a decent JE settlement is far from over.

The Unison branch leadership originally adopted the same position as Unison nationally - that JE is bound to produce losers. But under pressure from members and left activists, including a motion to the union's annual meeting drafted by a Socialist Party member, the branch has now vowed to fight against any pay cuts. As it currently stands, over 800 workers will lose money. The fight for equal pay without loss goes on, but an important victory has been secured.

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