I genuinely like my job and I can see growth in it. I do my normal engineering stuff and also build cases for projects that cost millions of pounds, it looks as if I am going to be moved into managing them, and I have convinced a number of important people than I can anticipate important technical problems that other people see. There are a few big projects at work based on cost and return on investment which I was the prime mover for. I don't want to leave when I have so many babies at my current place of work.

Despite that, my employer has a new policy of deliberately underpaying staff and I can make 50% more working (literally) next door doing another technical job with far fewer responsibilities. I have signed my new contract and informally told my manager that I intend to leave but that I'd really prefer not to, so he has worked fairly hard to find out if there is any flexibility on salary, only to be told there definitely isn't. I did have a meeting with our Chief Engineer where I complained about salary, he said he was not in control of salaries but he did agree to find way to get my recent promotion back paid for a year, so I think I am "valued" by people but not "valued" the company.

My employer is highly unionised and we have collective bargaining arrangements. My employer succeeded in paying people less by issuing contracts to new employees before they can be represented by the union, but these new contracts say all negotiations are "collectively bargained". The payscales on these new contracts apparently "Must" be negotiated with the unions, but for whatever reason in 3 years no negotiations have happened so there is only the entry level salary for each grade.

In my possibly Quixotic attempts to continue working for an employer that clearly hates me, I have tried to find a way to negotiate my salary, and my salary alone. Whether this is by being promoted in post or some other mechanism. My employer said it won't do this because my contract is collectively bargained with the union, and therefore if I don't like my pay then I should complain to the union.

I phoned my union's (Prospect) Head Office, and the person I spoke to on the phone said my contract was actually a "personal contract" because it was written without union consultation, and therefore is not and will never be a "collectively bargained" contract in the most literal and formal sense of the word. This meant my company reps have an obligation to try and crowbar my employer into sitting around a table with them to discuss my salary, and my salary alone.

The Head Office people forwarded my case onto the local reps who I spoke to on the phone and filled out a case form for. Over the phone they said they had never heard of "personal contracts" and understood these are very special cases for executives. They also said they will not let me get a promotion in post, because if they let me have one then everyone should get one.

Since then (one week) I haven't heard from the local reps and they put the phone down on me when I ring. I'll quickly point out that our conversation was perfectly polite and I was not hostile in any way, so I don't understand the lack of communication.

Have I got the wrong end of the stick from Head Office here? Should I be persistent with local reps or am I just banging my head against a brick wall?

  • 9
    If you can make 50% more by literally working next door, then get a job next door.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 15, 2020 at 11:41
  • 1
    In that job I'm just going to sit around and wait for stuff to break, then if the electricians can't fix it then I go in and fix it. I feel like I don't want to go back to doing that unless I really, really have to.
    – rvukwdvypd
    Nov 15, 2020 at 11:43
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    Why would you care? The point is you won't get anything. Whatever excuse given by your employer is not relevant, the simple fact they're not coming with an other offer is a red flag. You will never get threated correctly there, just run...
    – Laurent S.
    Nov 15, 2020 at 11:46
  • 1
    If you want more money take it by going next door, if not accept what you have, your choice but choose.
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 15, 2020 at 11:54
  • 2
    Collective bargaining should be easy, and it affects all employees (but only union members get to vote on the deal). If your union is saying that they don't do collective bargaining with your employer, but your employer will only deal with them, then you're stuffed. Looks like you need an employment lawyer. Your union should be able to help with that: that's what you pay your subs for. However it may be that you're actually in dispute with your union as well as your employer. Not a good place to be. Nov 15, 2020 at 12:45

1 Answer 1


Is my contract collectively bargained or a personal contract?

It's an ordinary job contract and has no connection, at all, to the Unions, in any way.

It is completely, utterly, unrelated to the unions in any way.

(There may be some confusion about the Union-related term of art "personal contract" - which has simply utterly no connection to the issue under discussion here.)

I don't understand the lack of communication.... (from the Union)

They would be completely confused by you talking to them about the contract in question - which has absolutely no connection to the Union in any way.

Good luck in your new job.

  • 1
    I know what you're saying, but my union does have an obligation to negotiate on behalf of people on personal contracts if they ask for it, which I have in writing and verbally ove rthe phone. so from my understanding my local reps should at least make it look as if they made an effort? I realise moving on is probably the best move, but I'm keen to try and fully understand this contract situation.
    – rvukwdvypd
    Nov 15, 2020 at 15:56
  • hi @rvukwdvypd - you may be right; I can only offer you my opinion. In my opinion / understanding, you guys have a big mixup over the term "personal contract". They're referring to a very specific thing that has utterly no connection, in any way, at all, whatsoever, to what you're talking about. Regarding what you are talking about, it just has nothing at all in any way to do with the Union - it would be like if you called, say, the Police, or Tescos, about the issue. they'd just be like "huh, what?" :) I can only give you my understanding. Cheers!
    – Fattie
    Nov 15, 2020 at 16:18
  • I'll upvote this answer, because I guess it's true and helpful, but I'm afraid I won't put it down as "the answer" because it hasn't settled the answer of whether or not my current contract is "collectively bargained" or a "personal" contract in my mind.
    – rvukwdvypd
    Nov 17, 2020 at 8:50

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