Friday, 1 July 2016

North Lanarkshire Update



Here's a copy of an email I've just sent to the chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council's, Paul Jukes, at the following email address: jukes@northlan.gov.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Irvine
To: jukesp
Sent: Fri, Jul 1, 2016
Subject: North Lanarkshire Council - Job Evaluation (JE) Review



Dear Paul

North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) - Job Evaluation (JE) Review

I have received literally hundreds of email and Facebook enquiries recently (from NLC employees) regarding the Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review.

As I am sure you appreciate, the responsibility for answering people's queries and concerns lies with North Lanarkshire Council, as their employer, and not the trade unions. 

To my mind the best way to deal with this situation would be for the Council to publish full details of the JE Review on its web site and also to share this information with all claimant organisations, but as far as I know this has still to be done even though key aspects of the JE Review were announced to the press weeks ago.

So the Council workforce has lots of unanswered concerns and questions and no doubt you understand the importance of treating all NLC employees equally, regardless of whether or not they are members of a trade union.

In the circumstances, I plan to post this email on my blog site and redirect people towards you as the Council's chief executive and head of the paid service. If and when more sensible arrangements are made, I am happy to publicise these too since that would seem to me to be in everyone's best interests.

Kind regards



Mark Irvine


Now if you see me there's no need for NLC employees to be given the 'run around' in this way and if proper arrangements were in place, there would be no need for people to bombard the Council's chief executive with huge numbers of individuals enquiries.

But until this does happen my advice to employees who have queries about the Council's late-running JE Review is to email Paul Jukes directly.





North Lanarkshire Update (30/06/16)



I said the other that that I was overwhelmed with enquiries about North Lanarkshire Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review.

Not just that, I also explained that I was unable to answer most of these queries because the Council's senior management and the local trade unions are the 'architects' of the latest JE exercise - not Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES).

A4ES is attempting to clarify various issues with the Council, but so far at least the Council has been unable or unwilling to explain important aspects of the JE Review.

The efforts to get some sense out of North Lanarkshire Council will continue and any news will be reported on the blog site.

In the meantime, individual employees who are being given the run around may wish to drop a note to the Council's chief executive Paul Jukes who can be contacted at the following email address: jukesp@northlan.gov.uk

For the avoidance of any doubt equal pay claimants whose cases were previously handled by Stefan Cross Solicitors, Fox Cross Solicitors and Fox and Partners Solicitors are now being represented by Action 4 Equality Scotland Limited. 


North Lanarkshire Update (22/06/16)


I have received lots of enquiries from North Lanarkshire in the past 24 hours, via email and Facebook, regarding the Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review.

Now I don't have the time or resources to respond to all of these queries on an individual basis which is why I tend to communicate with readers via the blog site.

I will do what I can to shed some light on aspects of the JE review that are causing people most concern, but I can't of course speak for the Council and/or the trade unions.

Nor can I necessarily explain the problems or anomalies about a 'deal' which the Council and the unions have struck between themselves, not least because many of the details are still unclear even at this late stage.  

So my advice to trade union members is to raise a query with your own trade union in the first instance, in writing, and keep a copy of your enquiry for future reference along with any response received.

For readers who are not in a trade union, your line manager is the first port of call and again I would raise any queries in writing (by email) rather than over the phone, for obvious reasons.


NLC Update (30/06/16)



I said the other that that I was overwhelmed with enquiries about North Lanarkshire Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review.

Not just that, I also explained that I was unable to answer most of these queries because the Council's senior management and the local trade unions are the 'architects' of the latest JE exercise - not Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES).

A4ES is attempting to clarify various issues with the Council, but so far at least the Council has been unable or unwilling to explain important aspects of the JE Review.

The efforts to get some sense out of North Lanarkshire Council will continue and any news will be reported on the blog site.

In the meantime, individual employees who are being given the run around may wish to drop a note to the Council's chief executive Paul Jukes who can be contacted at the following email address: jukesp@northlan.gov.uk

For the avoidance of any doubt equal pay claimants whose cases were previously handled by Stefan Cross Solicitors, Fox Cross Solicitors and Fox and Partners Solicitors are now being represented by Action 4 Equality Scotland Limited. 



North Lanarkshire Update (22/06/16)


I have received lots of enquiries from North Lanarkshire in the past 24 hours, via email and Facebook, regarding the Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review.

Now I don't have the time or resources to respond to all of these queries on an individual basis which is why I tend to communicate with readers via the blog site.

I will do what I can to shed some light on aspects of the JE review that are causing people most concern, but I can't of course speak for the Council and/or the trade unions.

Nor can I necessarily explain the problems or anomalies about a 'deal' which the Council and the unions have struck between themselves, not least because many of the details are still unclear even at this late stage.  

So my advice to trade union members is to raise a query with your own trade union in the first instance, in writing, and keep a copy of your enquiry for future reference along with any response received.

For readers who are not in a trade union, your line manager is the first port of call and again I would raise any queries in writing (by email) rather than over the phone, for obvious reasons.


NLC Update (29/06/16)


Here's the advice that Unison is apparently issuing to Home Care members in North Lanarkshire regarding the outcome of the Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review.

"Our branch secretary informed us this morning that when job re-evaluation takes place employees are automatically placed at the bottom of the pay grade they are upgraded to.

"This would result in spinal column 22 if no equal pay claim was made or spinal column 23 if an equal pay claim was processed, applicable to grade 7." 

Now I find this very peculiar for the following reasons:
  1. The Council is the employer and senior managers in NLC should be taking responsibility for explaining these issues to employees
  2. The grades involved are not new grades and many of the equivalent male comparator jobs have been at their top of their respective pay scales for years
  3. No such 'rule' about re-evaluation exists and the unions ought to be standing up for their members interests instead of acting as a mouthpiece for the Council.
If you ask me, the NLC workforce deserves a detailed explanation on the workings of the JE Review which has been sadly lacking up until now.




**STOP PRESS** (28/06/16)



A kind reader has been in touch to say that has received an explanation, of sorts at least, fromher trade union about the new grades arising from the late-running NLC job evaluation (JE) review and where people are being placed on their new pay scales. 

Apparently, the trade unions' position is that employees are automatically placed at the bottom of the appropriate spinal column, if their job is upgraded following a JE exercise.

Now I haven't seen this advice as yet, but the whole point about the recent job evaluation in North Lanarkshire is that the latest JE Review is intended to correct the mess that was made last time around in 2006/07.

So these are not really 'new' grades in the normal sense of the word, but grades that should have been in place many years ago.

In which case putting people to the bottom of the pay scale is not the right thing to do, if you ask me.


**STOP PRESS** (28/06/16)



A kind reader has been in touch to say that has received an explanation, of sorts at least, fromher trade union about the new grades arising from the late-running NLC job evaluation (JE) review and where people are being placed on their new pay scales. 

Apparently, the trade unions' position is that employees are automatically placed at the bottom of the appropriate spinal column, if their job is upgraded following a JE exercise.

Now I haven't seen this advice as yet, but the whole point about the recent job evaluation in North Lanarkshire is that the latest JE Review is intended to correct the mess that was made last time around in 2006/07.

So these are not really 'new' grades in the normal sense of the word, but grades that should have been in place many years ago.

In which case putting people to the bottom of the pay scale is not the right thing to do, if you ask me.

His Master's Voice (18/06/16)


The trade unions in North Lanarkshire have shown their willingness in recent weeks to act as a mouthpiece for the Council, as this post on the future of the Home Care services demonstrates only too well. 

Days later the unions issue a joint press release with North Lanarkshire extolling the virtues of the late-running job evaluation (JE) review, yet the full details of this review have still not been released and the workforce remains firmly in the dark.

Strange days indeed and ordinary union members could be forgiven for asking what they are paying their union dues for, especially when the level of service and support  is so poor.



NLC Update (27/05/16)

Image result for his master's voice

A kind reader from North Lanarkshire sent me the following statement which has appeared on the Facebook page of the local Unison branch.

HOME SUPPORT MEMBERS

"in light of recent concerns over the future of home support, the bench asked the council to clarify its position on privatisation and TUPE transfer of home support workers.

"the council have assured UNISON that there are NO PLANS to privatise and TUPE transfer home support and that Cllr McCulloch's statement earlier this month where he said that privatisation was off the table still stands."

Now I think's it's a good thing that the union has been stirred into action, but why is Unison speaking on the Council's behalf?

Surely a senior figure from North Lanarkshire Council should be seeking these words 'on the record' was it were, otherwise they're not worth the paper they're not written on - as an old friend of mine was fond of saying.

Not only that, a clear statement of the Council's position should be sent to the Joint Integration Board of Lanarkshire's Health and Social Care Partnership so that the record can be set straight at its next meeting.


Backpay Bombshell? (17/06/16)



Lots of readers from North Lanarkshire have been in touch to ask where they stand (what they stand to lose), if the Council tries to stop them receiving any backpay that may be due from the late-running job evaluation (JE) scheme.  

Now I don't know is the honest answer because over a week after the Council and the trade unions announced that a 'deal' had been done everyone, especially the workforce, is still in the dark as to what this really means.

Which is an incredible state of affairs if you ask me and instead of clapping each other on the back, you would think that the Council would immediately release full details of the JE review so that people can see the proposals for themselves.

But that hasn't happened and the trade unions seems to be dancing to the Council's tune instead of standing up for the right of their members to know what is going on.

The backpay that would be due under any upgrading depends on the difference in pay (if any) between someone's old grade and new grade, and where their post would be placed on that new grade.

Given that this whole dispute goes back to 2007, I think it would be reasonable for anyone who was in post at that time (i.e. 2007) to go straight to the top of their new grade because that's the only thing that makes sense, if you ask me, since the new grades are intended to correct what went wrong with the old 2006/07 JE scheme.

If the difference in pay between the old and new grade were £2.00 an hour (an assumption not a prediction on my part), then the amount of backpay due would be £2.00 x a person's normal working week.

Using 30 hours as an example, that would come to £2.00 x 30 hours x 52 weeks in a full year = £3,120 less tax and National Insurance, of course. However this would only go back to 1 April 2015 which is the the originally agreed 'implementation date' for any new pay arrangements.

Yet we are now hurtling towards the end of June 2016 because the review is running very late and so I imagine any new pay arrangements could not be put in place until the end of July 2016 which would, therefore, add another four months (one third) to the backdating period.

So do the maths for yourself!

A bigger difference in hourly pay would obviously produce a higher figure in terms of any backdated pay and vice versa, as would an increase or decrease in the number of hours worked per week.

In any event the only way to get to the bottom of this is for the Council and/or the trade unions to explain what exactly is going on which they have failed to do up until now even though the review exercise should have been completed before the end of 2015.




Backpay Bombshell? (16/06/16)


A number of readers have been in touch to say that a stubborn rumour is doing the rounds in North Lanarkshire to the effect that the Council is planning to implement the late-running job evaluation (JE) review in such a way as to avoid paying the workforce any backpay they are due.

Now I can't see this happening for a number of important reasons:
  1. The equal pay settlement reached with NLC last year drew a line under all pay and grading issues up to 31 March 2015.
  2. So 1 April 2015 was always understood as the operative date for any new pay and grading arrangements going forward
  3. As everyone knows, a JE scheme evaluates jobs as they are being done at the time - and clearly the duties and responsibilities of Home Carers, to name just one job, were being carried out from 1 April 2015 onwards
  4. So any new rates of pay and higher grades can only, logically, apply from 1 April 2015 onwards. 
  5. If not, the Council (and the trade unions) might just as well pull any old random date such as 1 April 2020 out of thin air
  6. As a result 1 April 2015 is the only possible implementation date for the late-running JE review and the employees concerned must be entitled to be paid at their new rate and grades for all hours worked from 1 April 2015 onwards. 
Not just that, of course, because in my view any agreement North Lanarkshire has reached with the trade unions cannot override the right of individual employees to backpay, where appropriate.

Otherwise, the trade unions would be guilty of 'screwing' their own members in a way that would be truly shocking and indefensible.

So I think these rumours are probably just that 'rumours', although it is true to say that a week on from the JE Review being announced in the press, union members and the wider NLC workforce are still waiting to be provided with written details explaining the outcome.

I find it hard to believe that the local trade unions would attempt to sell their members out in this kind of cynical fashion, yet as regular readers are only too well aware this is exactly what happened back in 2006/07.

Surely the local unions would not enter into such a Devil's Pact again? - not least because if history were to repeat itself, the unions' credibility with ordinary union members would go right thought the floor. 

What would help clear all of this up, of course, is a clear and unequivocal statement from North Lanarkshire Council and hopefully this post on the blog site will spur the Council into action.



Thursday, 30 June 2016

North Lanarkshire Update



I said the other that that I was overwhelmed with enquiries about North Lanarkshire Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review.

Not just that, I also explained that I was unable to answer most of these queries because the Council's senior management and the local trade unions are the 'architects' of the latest JE exercise - not Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES).

A4ES is attempting to clarify various issues with the Council, but so far at least the Council has been unable or unwilling to explain important aspects of the JE Review.

The efforts to get some sense out of North Lanarkshire Council will continue and any news will be reported on the blog site.

In the meantime, individual employees who are being given the run around may wish to drop a note to the Council's chief executive Paul Jukes who can be contacted at the following email address: jukesp@northlan.gov.uk

For the avoidance of any doubt equal pay claimants whose cases were previously handled by Stefan Cross Solicitors, Fox Cross Solicitors and Fox and Partners Solicitors are now being represented by Action 4 Equality Scotland Limited. 



North Lanarkshire Update (22/06/16)


I have received lots of enquiries from North Lanarkshire in the past 24 hours, via email and Facebook, regarding the Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review.

Now I don't have the time or resources to respond to all of these queries on an individual basis which is why I tend to communicate with readers via the blog site.

I will do what I can to shed some light on aspects of the JE review that are causing people most concern, but I can't of course speak for the Council and/or the trade unions.

Nor can I necessarily explain the problems or anomalies about a 'deal' which the Council and the unions have struck between themselves, not least because many of the details are still unclear even at this late stage.  

So my advice to trade union members is to raise a query with your own trade union in the first instance, in writing, and keep a copy of your enquiry for future reference along with any response received.

For readers who are not in a trade union, your line manager is the first port of call and again I would raise any queries in writing (by email) rather than over the phone, for obvious reasons.