A new report published by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) paints a damning picture of employee trust in local government. And the challenge for trade unions – to raise and restore pay levels – is a factor.
The September ILM report, “The Truth About Trust”, measures employee trust in their organisations through a methodology that charts positive opinions minus negative opinions to produce a net high trust figure. In simple terms, if there are more positives than negatives then an employee, on balance, trusts their organisation. If it’s the opposite then an employee, on balance, does not trust their organisation.
Across the public sector as a whole 29% of employees have trust in their own organisation. This compares to 45% across the private sector and 46% across the third sector.
But delve a little deeper and the alarm bells must surely start to ring for local government employers.
Just 10% of central and local government employees have overall positive trust in their organisations. Staggeringly, 90% of ALL central and local government workers have overall negative trust in their organisation. As the report says, “this is a shocking figure when compared to the average net high trust level of 40%” (across all organisations of all types).
There are of course many reasons, personal, professional and organisational, which shape an employee’s trust. But a worker’s sense of value and reward is right up there. And the report points out that ‘the budget cuts, wage freezes and mass redundancies experienced have had a real impact on trust levels’.
This should come as no surprise to those trade unions representing (and organising) workers in local government employers. It mirrors our own findings from member surveys and in UNISON is further reflected by the quantum growth in applications for financial assistance submitted to the union’s own charity from desperate local government workers.
As the lowest paid of all sectors our local government members have felt the full force of ‘the budget cuts, wage freezes and mass redundancies’ identified by the ILM report as a significant factor in the incredibly low trust rating of the local government employers.
Which is why our activists must remain resolute in questioning and opposing job cuts and outsourcing whenever possible. Which is why it remains important to mobilise as many UNISON members, friends and families as possible, to demonstrate against austerity, budget cuts and the pay freeze in London and Glasgow on 18 October. And which is why it is absolutely imperative that we offer our members hope, energy, commitment and leadership for an ongoing campaign and struggle to raise pay levels and restore lost earnings value, by striking on 14 October as part of UNISON's week of action on pay across both local government and the NHS.