In November 1982, Liverpool NALGO/UNISON negotiated a groundbreaking New Technology Agreement (NTA) with the then Liberal Council led by Sir Trevor Jones.
Today, we talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) permeating all aspects of our lives from Siri to self driving cars and almost everyone has a laptop, iPad or smartphone; then we were talking about Visual Display Units (VDUs - the size of your desk!); word-processors; and micro computers. Ancient history to today’s workforce no doubt, but some of the issues were very similar - should we be ‘Luddites’ and reject them, or how could we make these rapidly progressing technologies beneficial?
The 1982 NTA included a guarantee of no redundancies and improvements to conditions of service above national agreements - including the following benefits:-
*progression from the then 36.5 hour week to a 35 hour week for all staff by the 1st April 1983,
* an extra 2 days annual leave for all staff taking the minimum to 22.
* improved maternity provisions - demanded by the NALGO female representatives as it was women workers who would be directly affected the most.
Liverpool City Council NALGO/UNISON continued to enjoy these benefits for 20 plus years while millions of workers have never enjoyed these benefits. Unfortunately many of these gains were eventually whittled down in the 2000’s on the pretext of ‘austerity’, demonstrating that there are no inevitable benefits from the introduction of new technologies; that they have to be fought for and protected by workers and their trade unions for generations to come.