The January meeting of Chooseyouth learned that unelected officers of the Local Government Association have proposed abandoning the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth and Community Workers, (the JNC or Pink Book). The meeting unanimously and very strongly agreed to oppose this move and to support the unions and elected employers’ representatives now campaigning to retain and indeed extend the scope of the JNC as an important feature of the battle to save youth work.
The JNC is a unique collective bargaining body that has been central to the growth of Youth Services and the development of the profession of youth work since 1961.
The JNC brings together local authority and voluntary sector employers to negotiate with unions the specific terms and conditions that apply to the role of youth workers, community workers and in many cases play workers.
But it does much more than this. The JNC approves the proposals for qualification courses for our profession as validated by the Education and Training Standards Committees. Historically this has meant that the validation criteria applied when considering training courses help ensure the highest possible standards and the widest access to education and support for students.
As a result of these criteria youth and community training courses have pioneered access to higher education for non-traditional entrants and attained high levels of attainment amongst a student cohort that has for many years been composed of largely mature students returning to learn of who around 30% have been from BME communities, 30% with disabilities and over 50% women. Many students have given up other jobs and undertaken considerable voluntary work to dedicate themselves to our profession. Their commitment fully justifies being awarded the JNC terms and conditions.
Around 75% of local authorities still apply the JNC terms and conditions and an increasing number of enlightened voluntary organisations. There is no real push from real employers to get rid of it. There is just an undemocratic and potentially dangerous move to do so by influential lead officers at the Local Government Association which manages the employers’ side secretariat of the JNC.
Over the years the JNC has been responsible for many developments that have driven youth work and youth services forward.
The JNC embraced the part time workforce and pioneered pro rata terms and conditions for those working less than full time hours. It embraced the teachers’ pension scheme provisions for youth workers. It developed good grading criteria and an appeals system to save employers time and energy in reinventing their own wheels locally.
The JNC became synonymous with the growth of a national Youth Service committed to championing young people and their engagement with personal and social education. To pull the JNC apart is to indicate that this Service and commitment to youth is being abandoned.
Doug Nicholls Chair of Chooseyouth commented: “ I hope everyone concerned about young people and vibrant democratically controlled local authority and voluntary sector services will prioritise some lobbying work to save the JNC. If the JNC goes youth work goes and everyone’s efforts to save what is left and rebuild anew in the future will come to nothing. It is an indication of how unpopular and unnecessary the break up of JNC is that unelected officers have engineered this manoeuvre without the knowledge and support of councillors. Of course a few hard pressed human resource managers in local authorities would prefer one less set of terms and conditions which reward workers well. But the majority of professional youth service leads do not. There is wide recognition that JNC is a helpful tool professionally and industrial relations wise.
The JNC took over 14 years to build. Voluntary sector workers and the early trade unionists campaigned tenaciously for it alongside their campaign to establish public funding for youth work and proper recognition of the importance of youth workers to society. We cannot sit by and let this vital body disappear and we particularly welcome the concern being expressed throughout the profession and by the Universities, good employers and Education and Training Committees.”
All those concerned should make their view known to the following:
LGA Chief Executive – Mark Lloyd is on Twitter @MarkLloydLGA or generic email – email@example.com
Chairs of the political groups in LGA: