Pay 2022

Membership Update 26.07.2022

Many thanks for all your feedback following last week’s Pay Update. We greatly appreciate your support as we reject the insulting Home Office pay offer and campaign for a fair ‘cost of living’ wage rise for ISU members. Our case only grows stronger.

Last week saw the headline inflation rate surge to 9.4%, while Public Sector Pay Review bodies recommended significantly more generous settlements for the NHS, police and teachers than the Home Office have offered us. Those awards are still beneath inflation – but at an average of around 5%, comfortably outstrip the average 3% of our offer. Once again it is all too clear – ISU people and the national security we bring are not a priority. The distance between the hollow words of appreciation we hear and the cold, hard reality is stark. The Home Office simply don’t value their people.

Membership feedback strongly favours our very assertive response, with high support for industrial action. We also hear members who – while prepared to support action as a final resort – want us to go the extra mile to try and secure a negotiated settlement.

We understand why people feel this way. It’s difficult to contemplate walking out when our jobs make so much difference. And our instinct would always be to limit what we ask of members. However, we also believe that only the real, credible threat of industrial action has any prospect of overcoming Home Office intransigence and bringing them to meaningful negotiations.

The law on industrial action is not Trade Union friendly. In a formal ballot, a minimum turn-out of 50% is required for a ballot to be valid. Additionally in essential public services – and this includes Border Force but not Immigration Enforcement, Asylum & Protection and UKVI – 40% of those eligible to vote must support action. These are high thresholds and, in general, Unions do struggle to meet them. If the Home Office seem complacent about the risk of industrial action, it is perhaps because they believe we will not meet the thresholds.

We are also aware many members would more readily support action short of a strike than a full strike. Again, the law here favours employers. Industrial action we might assume to be ‘short of a strike’ – such as refusing to undertake certain activities or use certain IT systems – in fact requires a mandate for full strike action. ‘Working to rule’ is a phrase often used but is more of an option in, for instance, a heavily regulated factory setting than in our world where there are significant discretionary elements to our roles. Any action short of a strike could only take the form of refusing to undertake voluntary activities, for instance working no overtime. We feel this would have limited impact unless accompanied by a full strike mandate.

We know many members are extremely angry and feel the Home Office is treating them with contempt. It is therefore essential we plot the path forward with care and ensure we meet what the law requires. We do not contemplate industrial action lightly. We know members would prefer the Home Office finally to see sense, to draw back from the precipice and enter meaningful discussions for a fair pay settlement.

The National Executive has therefore decided to conduct an on-line Consultative Ballot on industrial action over Pay 2022. This is not a formal industrial action ballot. That would follow in the event a strong vote for action in the Consultative Ballot does not motivate the Home Office to enter meaningful dialogue. This Consultative Ballot is an opportunity to :-

  • Express our emphatic rejection of the Departmental pay proposals ;
  • Demonstrate we can comfortably achieve the mandate threshold for industrial action the law requires ;
  • Send the unmistakable message we are fully prepared to take industrial action in support of fair pay

ISU members only want to be treated fairly – industrial action is a last resort where the Home Office continue to disrespect our people by refusing even to discuss our fair, moderate case for a cost of living pay rise. We want to see serious negotiation and a fair resolution, not a damaging dispute.

We will give the Home Office the opportunity to reflect on the results of our Consultative Ballot. If they decide not to heed any message you send, it is they and not the ISU who will be recklessly imperilling our national security if we are left with no option but then to proceed to industrial action.

Our Consultative Ballot will be a short, sharp exercise, running over three weeks between Wednesday 27th July and Tuesday 16th August. It will be run by our independent scrutineers, MiVoice, through a secure on-line voting portal. We cannot send details to members using Home Office e-mail addresses – details will be sent electronically to members who have given us private e-mail addresses and by post to those who have not. MiVoice can offer an alternative process for any members unable to access the on-line portal.

We need members to send an overpowering message through our Consultative Ballot that if the Home Office continue their refusal to engage with the ISU pay claim, you will support and carry through industrial action in large numbers.

Please cast your vote in support of our campaign to win a fair cost-of-living pay settlement for ISU members everywhere.

Mark Gribbin

General Secretary