Saturday, 22 December 2007
We hope you have a wonderful time over the festive period - and look forward to resuming contact in the New Year.
Our Newcastle office is now closed until Thursday 3 January, but will re-open again on that date.
In the meantime, Action 4 Equality Scotland and Mark Irvine can still be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
The revised offers are a considerable improvement on the original cash sums proposed by Renfrewshire Council in 2006 - and also recommended for acceptance by the tame local trade unions, don't forget!
So, what it comes down to is that old saying: "She who laughs last - laughs longest!"
Individual letters will be issued to clients before Xmas and we will be doing everything we can to get people paid their money as quickly as possible in the New Year.
As with some other councils, these revised offers are restricted to employees on the old manual worker grades at the moment - but there are many other 'white collar' groups (in Renfrewshire and elsewhere) with perfectly valid equal pay claims.
So, these unresolved cases will continue - either until the employers come to their senses and make offers to these groups as well - or until a settlement is imposed via the Employment Tribunals.
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Oh no, the reality is actually much worse than that - because the council has set out , quite deliberately, to treat many women workers less favourably than men in traditional male jobs - see posts dated 6 and 10 December 2007.
Senior managers have a lot to answer for - and so too do the trade unions - because they've sat on the sidelines and failed to explain what's been going on to their own members.
Sadly, the unions have kept a lid on things - kept their heads down - when their members needed practical advice and strong leadership.
What should people do now?
- Appeal and challenge you grade - if you feel it undervalues your job
- Demand to know how all NLC jobs have been scored - especially traditional male jobs
- Submit an equal pay claim as well as an internal appeal - this will take your case outside of the council - to an independent Employment Tribunal
Get organised - in small or large groups - and use the information on the Action 4 Equality web site - to challenge the way the Job Evaluation Scheme has been introduced.
Monday, 10 December 2007
Take grade NLC 6. Now this is not a very high grade - nor does it pay a king's ransom - but it does epitomise how male and female jobs have been treated so very differently - under a scheme that was intended to improve the position of many women's jobs - which had been undervalued for years.
Some Traditional Male Jobs on NLC 6
Estates Maintenance Worker 4
Chargehand Estate Worker
Driver 2 (Refuse Driver)
Now all of these people carry out vital and important jobs - and no one is demeaning the work they do - the real issue is why are they treated so differently?
Because if the truth be told - all of these jobs are old-fashioned manual worker jobs that have existed for years - jobs that were graded at no more than Manual Worker 4 under the old grading structure - jobs that were on a lower grade than a Home Carer, Cook or even a School Janitor.
Yet, there are female dominated jobs by the barrow load - which require much more in terms of skill, responsibility or qualifications than the male jobs - but the women's jobs have just been stuck on the same grade (NLC 6) or, in many cases, even lower grades. Here are some examples:
Female Dominated Jobs on NLC 6
Social Care Worker
How can these jobs possibly be regarded as doing work of the same value as a Refuse Driver or Gravedigger?
Female Dominated Jobs on NLC 5
Library Resource Centre Supervisor
Senior Creche Worker
How can these jobs possibly be regarded as doing work of less value than a Refuse Driver or Gravedigger?
Female Jobs on NLC 4
Care Support Worker
Word Processing Supervisor
How can these jobs possibly be regarded as doing work of less value than a Refuse Driver or Gravedigger?
So, the upshot is that North Lanarkshire is getting away with murder - its job evaluation scheme is shot full of holes and contradictions - and women workers are still treated less favourably than the men.
Take a Refuse Collector - another important, but essentially unskilled job that require virtually no training and carries little responsibility - and of course it's done overwhelmingly by men whose bonus payments are being protected by the council for years into the future.
Before the JES - Refuse Collectors were on a relatively low grade of Manual Worker (MW) 2 - much lower than a Home Help, for example, whose job was graded at MW 5.
But after the JES - Refuse Collectors have been placed on NLC 3 under the new pay and grading system - putting them on a par with a huge number of female dominated jobs - jobs that clearly require much greater levels of skill and responsibility.
What are these jobs?
Home Support Worker, Catering Assistant, Clerical Assistant, Creche Worker and Warden - to name just some of the female dominated jobs that are now deemed to be equivalent to an unskilled male post.
Anyone who knows anything about the refuse collection service - knows that the job has changed dramatically over the years. What might once have been regarded as a heavy manual job - has been made much easier by the introduction of wheelie bins - not just in Lanarkshire, but throughout Scotland.
But the exact opposite is true of many of the female dominated jobs - far from getting easier or less demanding - they've had all kinds of extra duties and responsibilities added - and often for no additional pay or reward.
Just think how much the job of a Home Carer has changed in the last 10 years - as community care has been introduced - the level of care and support provided by Home Carers has increased enormously - to keep vulnerable people living independently in their own homes.
But in North Lanarkshire many of these vital female dominated jobs have been placed on a par with refuse collection - when it's as plain as can be face that they are worth much more.
Yet again - North Lanarkshire's JES comes up trumps for the male dominated jobs - destroying any claim that the scheme is remotely fair or even-handed.
More to follow - Job Evaluation 3 coming soon!
Thursday, 6 December 2007
How many employees of North Lanarkshire Council believe that their new Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) has been applied fairly, consistently and in a manner that rewards people properly for the jobs they do?
Well, very few it seems if our feedback is anything to go by - probably just the senior managers whose jobs were conveniently left outside the scope of the JES - and of course the local union reps who negotiated and urged members to accept the scheme when it was first proposed.
Take the lowest grade in the new pay structure - NLC 1 - as it has been imaginatively called.
By a truly amazing coincidence this grade has been solely and exclusively reserved for the job of Cleaner - needless to say a job done overwhelmingly by low paid women workers.
Now a Cleaner does a very important job - as do many other council employees - including Road Sweepers which, as everyone knows, is a traditional male and bonus earning job.
Before North Lanarkshire's allegedly fairer JES - Cleaners and Road Sweepers were on exactly the same grade - Manual Worker (MW) 1 in old money.
But after the JES (for reasons no one can explain) - the male Road Sweepers have been awarded the higher grade of NLC 2 - while all the women Cleaners have ended up at the bottom of the heap on NLC 1.
Something smells very fishy here - how can that possibly happen - without a good old fashioned bit of jiggery pokery?
Because the job of a Cleaner is hard, heavy work - no less arduous certainly than a Road Sweeper - and arguably the Cleaner carries more responsibility for ensuring high standards in important public areas - school toilets, for example.
So, how can Cleaners possibly end up on the lowest grade - with no male group to keep them company? The answer is that the council has engineered the results to keep the costs of equal pay down.
But it was never intended to work that way - Single Status was supposed to be fairer to many of the female dominated jobs which had been undervalued and underpaid for years.
What should people do? They should appeal their grades - demand to see the detailed scores of other male jobs - and register an equal pay claim, if they've not already done so.
If the unions had any guts, they'd be lodging mass appeals on behalf of all North Lanarkshire Cleaners - but the unions are really part of the problem, as many ordinary members now realise.
More to follow - Job Evaluation 2 coming soon!
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
In February/March 2006, North Lanarkshire tried to persuade its workforce into accepting a new pay and grading structure. Rather oddly, management and trade unions were singing from exactly the same hymn sheet - that is until Action 4 Equality arrived on the scene and explained to people that they were being sold a pig in a poke.
The proposed deal blew up in disarray- as angry North Lanarkshire workers voted the scheme down by an overwhelming majority - after a series of workplace meetings and secret ballot.
In the summer of 2006, council managers announced they would press ahead anyway - by imposing the package over people's heads and despite having lost a vote - that was so vital to their plans just months earlier.
A key part of the package was a new was a new Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) which assessed, ranked and graded all North Lanarkshire Council jobs - but to this day the JES has never been agreed by the workforce or the trade unions.
In November 2006, the council introduced its new pay and grading structure - resulting in several hundred additional unfair dismissal claims (on top of existing equal pay claims) - because the council was imposing a new contract of employment - without the agreement of its employees.
The council then gave each employee details of the new grading structure - but only on a personal and individual basis - crucial information about how other council jobs had fared was deliberately withheld .
Why? Because the management wanted to prevent people from understanding how other jobs (especially the male jobs) had done out of the re-grading exercise - after all the employers and trade unions had been keeping low paid women workers in the dark for years.
In terms of the new JES, the council and the unions were cooking the books (behind the scenes) to protect the interests of the traditional bonus earning - and predominantly male - jobs. Now North Lanarkshire is boasting about the millions of pounds they've saved - compared to other councils - and all because they've got such a cosy relationship with their trade unions
But now these chickens are coming home to roost - because the new North Lanarkshire grading structure shows that many of the key female dominated jobs have done very badly - surprise, surprise - compared the their male counterparts.
Over the next week or so we will publish some of the more glaring examples of the many women's jobs that have been scored poorly and come out badly - while other male jobs have sailed through the process completely unscathed.
Watch this space - more to follow.
Monday, 3 December 2007
School janitors were on some of the highest old manual worker grades (MW 5, 6 and 7) reflecting their responsibilities - but just like many women workers they still routinely earned much less than the bonus earning male groups on lower grades - such as refuse workers, gardeners, gravediggers etc.
When Action 4 Equality came along and lifted the lid off equal pay - we advised school janitors and other male groups that they too had valid equal pay claims - although they relied on the women workers winning their claims first.
At the time, the unions rubbished this advice claims and told their male members that they were wasting their time. In Glasgow, for example, where the GMB union represents most of the school janitors local officials laughed in their members faces - and told them not to waste the union's time.
But now the trade unions' have egg all over their faces - because the Employment Tribunals in a recent test case (Abbott and others v South Tyneside Council) have agreed with Stefan Cross and Action 4 Equality - by deciding that male workers do indeed have valid equal pay claims.
Male claims are limited to the date when the first female claims were registered - in many cases around October 2005 - but the judgment also means that if employers leave the male groups out of local equal pay settlements - then the male workers can complain of deliberate, direct sex discrimination - and raise a separate claim for 'injury to feelings'.
The bottom line is that these male groups are still very much at the races when it comes to equal pay - and still have valuable claims - notwithstanding the visible lack of trade union support for their own members.
It's not too late to register a claim - if you know of anyone who falls into his category - tell them the news and spread the word.
Jannies of the world unite - you have nothing to lose and much to gain!
Saturday, 1 December 2007
We aim to turn these offers around within a matter of days - so that our clients get their money as quickly as possible.
The sooner people return their paperwork, the sooner we can complete the process with the council - which will allow us to release individual cheques.
Remember - everyone who case is already underway with Action 4 Equality has an ongoing claim from 1 April 2008 - because the council is going to protect the higher pay of the male workers for years to come.
And for as long as the pay gap remains - between these groups of male and female workers - employees in Edinburgh (and elsewhere) have valid and very valuable equal pay claims.
Remember, also, that lots of people have perfectly good equal pay claims - but have yet to do something about it - see the two posts dated 10 November 2007.
But if you don't register a claim, the council will keep the back pay that properly belongs to thousands of low paid workers.
The council's finance chief - Councillor Gordon MacKenzie - announced in October via the Edinburgh Evening News (see post dated 19 November) that the council would do the right thing by this group of workers.
And quite right too - because they do exactly the same jobs as their female colleagues - and to treat them any differently will simply open the council up to more legal challenges and complaints of direct sex discrimination.
Action 4 Equality has already been in touch with Councillor MacKenzie - we will be getting back to him again this week urging the finance chief and his fellow councillors to deal with this matter decisively on 20 December.
If not, this will make a mockery of Edinburgh City Council's claim to be an equal opportunities employer.
Our clients can help - you should lobby your own local councillors - politely, but firmly and lay out the facts - make it clear that the council must keep its word - by putting this issue finally to bed on 20 December.
You can find contact details for your own local councillor on the council's web site: www.edinburgh.gov.uk
Monday, 26 November 2007
Sandy has made a great contribution to the work of Action 4 Equality in Scotland - which he joined in the summer of 2006.
Every day since, Sandy has dealt with the numerous calls and queries from thousands of Scottish clients in a friendly and helpful manner - remaining courteous, good humoured and professional - even when callers are wound up and incredibly frustrated - more often than not because of the bad behaviour of their employers.
So, a heartfelt 'THANK YOU' to Sandy for all his hard work and commitment to the cause - Sandy is moving on to another job in the voluntary sector and we would like to place on record our very best wishes to him for the future!
As a result, we are introducing new arrangements for dealing with calls from clients in Scotland - from Monday 3 December onwards all phone enquiries will be dealt with by our Newcastle office.
So, in future if you have a query about an existing Scotland claim, please call 0191 226 6686. Choose Option 4 and one of our admin team will be happy to respond - leave a brief message if you would like a call back.
So, our advice to people is to reject any new offer at this stage - because it represents a very good deal for the council and a rotten deal for the workforce.
Why is West Lothian doing this?
For the same reasons as Edinburgh - see post dated 10 November 2007. Many people were duped or frightened into accepting the council's original offer - but the Compromise Agreement that staff were forced to sign (to get their hands on the money) has run out!
West Lothian's agreement expired in February 2007 - yet the pay differences between the male and female jobs is as wide as ever - and will continue for years to come.
So, having conned the workforce once the council is simply up to its old tricks again - trying to get people to give up their claims for much less than they're really worth - both now and into the future.
Don't be deceived into accepting another dodgy deal - your claim is worth much more!
Monday, 19 November 2007
"The legal advice we had was that we did not have to offer compensation payments to the male manual workers, there was not the same level of risk that there is to female workers."
"However, there has been a great deal of discussion within the council over the last week and it was felt that we had to offer both male and female workers the same deal in terms of compensation."
"We've basically agreed that people in the same posts should be paid the same salary regardless of their sex, as it was felt we could have left ourselves open to other legal cases if we treated male workers differently."
Action 4 Equality reported this news at the time - as a victory for common sense - especially as these individuals (i.e male workers in predominantly female jobs) had previously been offered compensation by the council.
So, excluding these male workers at such a late stage was seen for what it was - an act of blatant victimisation, which the council quickly reversed in the face of growing public criticism in the press and media.
But having agreed the principle of correctly including the men, the council is now dragging its feet - while it's clear that the men will be made the same improved offer that's about to be made to their female colleagues - there is some confusion about precisely when this will happen.
Action for Equality will be contacting Councillor Gordon MacKenzie in an effort to clarify what is going on - because leaving people in the dark for possibly weeks, or months, on end is clearly not acceptable.
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
We asked our clients for help - to discover the size of the pay gap between traditional male and female jobs.
Remember this is the council that boasted famously: "We don't have an equal pay problem" - South Lanarkshire supposedly sorted things out with a new Single Status pay structure in 2004.
We asked people to confirm what the male jobs actually earn - relying on the fact that our clients live and work alongside the men doing these jobs.
And boy, oh boy, have they delivered the goods. Personal details will be withheld for obvious reasons - but the results are utterly astonishing - and confirm that the pay gap is much greater than even we imagined.
For example, a Refuse Driver is currently paid £11.02 per hour - which is Spinal Column Point (SCP) 44 on the pay ladder - according to a pay slip that has been passed to Action 4 Equality.
Even a humble Refuse Collector is paid £9.50 an hour - which equates to Spinal Column Point 34.
But a basic grade Home Carer (a predominantly female job, of course) is paid only £6.65 per hour - a lowly Spinal Column Point 10.
So, the difference between the female carer's job and the male refuse worker's job is a whopping £4.37 per - or £8,400 a year for a full-time worker!!!
The whole thing stinks to high heaven. No wonder the council and the unions tried to keep this under wraps - they should be ashamed of themselves.
Before South Lanarkshire's Single Status scheme came into play in 2004 - a Home Carer was on Manual Worker (MW) Grade 5 - i.e. on a higher grade than her two male colleagues - with the Refuse Driver on Grade MW 4 and the Refuse Collector on MW 2.
Now the 1999 Single Status Agreement was about tackling the pay gap and being fairer to women workers - but in South Lanarkshire the notion of equal pay has been turned completely on its head.
The geniuses behind 2004 have made a mockery of Single Status. The council has cheated the workforce and the unions have betrayed their own members. We now intend to hold the people responsible to account.
Because in South Lanarkshire - some workers are more equal than others.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
"Does the same apply in other councils across Scotland?", people want to know.
Well, the answer is a very definite YES!
All councils in Scotland have deliberately excluded large groups of employees - and despite these people having perfectly valid claims - they have been left out in the cold (see New Claims 1).
All councils in Scotland that made cash offers to employees (South Lanarkshire is the exception) continue to pay the women workers much less than the men - and will do so for years to come - so everyone who accepted the first offer can re-start their claim (see New Claims 2).
If you need any further advice, ring Action 4 Equality on 0131 667 7956 or contact Mark Irvine at: email@example.com
Saturday, 10 November 2007
Many people were duped or frightened into accepting a cash sum - for much less than their claim was really worth - because of the bully boy tactics of the council and the spineless behaviour pf the trade unions.
Why do these people have a new claim?
Because the legal document (Compromise Agreement) they were forced to sign - to get their hands on the money - expired in October 2006, but widespread pay discrimination continues to this day!
All the traditional male jobs have continued to earn much more than their female colleagues - and this pay gap will continue for years to come.
The latest settlement negotiated by Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross in Edinburgh goes up to 1 April 2008 - but those who settled (for much less than they should) can still claim for the gap period - which is worth an additional 18 months and at a higher rate than the original council settlement.
So, if you are one of those people who were stampeded into accepting the council's first offer - don't get mad, get even - by taking out a new claim.
On top of this, the council and the trade unions are likely to protect the much higher earnings of the male workers for another 3 years beyond 1 April 2008 - as the employers have done in other parts of the country.
If this happens, the pay gap (and pay discrimination) will continue until 2001 at least - which means an extra 3 year claim as well as the 18 month claim for those who settled in October 2006 - 4.5 years in total, perhaps more.
For more information or an application form ring Action 4 Equality Scotland on 0131 667 7956 or contact Mark Irvine at: firstname.lastname@example.org
NB Existing Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross clients don't need to do anything - your claim will continue automatically beyond 1 April 2008 - and until equal pay is finally achieved
Edinburgh City Council is in the process of settling some of its equal pay claims - those brought by employees doing 'manual worker' jobs such as cleaners, catering workers and home helps.
But there is a much greater group of people who have just as good a claim as the manual workers - and who have not been offered a penny piece by the council - to make up for many years of pay discrimination.
Who are they?
Classroom Assistants - helping young people get the best out of their education
Clerical and Admin Workers - in schools and other council departments
Catering Managers - overseeing Edinburgh's school meals service
Social Care Workers - providing personal care and support in the community
Nursery Nurses - providing early years educational support
Why do these groups have an equal pay claim?
Because for years they have been paid thousands of pounds a years less than traditional male jobs - such as refuse workers, road workers, gardeners and gravediggers.
For example, a refuse driver has been paid @ £20,000 a year by Edinburgh City Council for the past several years - but all the predominantly female jobs mentioned above have been paid much, much deal less.
No harm to the chap driving the refuse lorry - but if he's worth £20,000 a year, what's a Classroom Assistant or a Social Care Worker worth?
The employers and the trade unions have kept women workers in the dark about this blatant pay discrimination - despite signing a Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement in 1999 which was supposed to guarantee women workers equal treatment.
But the fact is that when you look at the content of these male and female jobs - the huge differences in pay simply cannot be justified - hence the reason so many people have a claim for equal pay and up to 5 years in back pay.
So, if you fall into one of these categories, you should register an equal pay claim now. It's not too late, there's still time - and Action 4 Equality is here to help.
For more information or an application form ring 0131 667 7956 or e-mail Mark Irvine at: email@example.com
Friday, 9 November 2007
The council has written to all employees with the outcome of the (Single Status) Job Evaluation exercise - which determines what people's new grades and rate of pay will be. If they don't accept what's on offer voluntarily, the council says it will simply impose the deal anyway.
How's that for good management and modern industrial relations?
Predictably, Argyll & Bute is following the same well trodden path of other councils - North Lanarkshire, West Lothian and Fife to name a few.
Significantly, the council is providing people the scores of only their own jobs - they want people to make a huge decision completely in the dark - without crucial details of how other employees are being treated. What are they afraid to share this information?
Because the council doesn't want the women workers to see how the male jobs have been scored - or to understand that the much higher earnings of the male workers will be protected for years to come.
Oh no, because that would let the cat out of the bag - and allow the women workers to see that they are being treated less favourably than the men.
As usual, the trade unions are standing on the sidelines - and doing the employers dirty work by failing to offer support and practical advice to their members.
Stefan Cross has written to all clients in Argyll & Bute to confirm our advice - don't accept the new contract on a voluntary basis.
Better the council imposes the new contract - since as this puts everyone in a stronger position to challenge the discriminatory nature of the new terms.
Bottom line is that while male jobs continue to be treated differently to female jobs - the fight for equal pay continues .
The article is much smaller than originally intended - which is disappointing, but it has been squeezed in a good cause - by the coverage of Glasgow's successful bid for the Commonwealth Games.
Nevertheless all publicity is good publicity - and this will certainly help keep up the pressure on the council and the trade unions.
Knowledge is power - as they say.
Every day more people are beginning to understand that Single Status and Equal Pay is a complete joke in South Lanarkshire - and that both the council and the trade unions need to be held to account for their behaviour.
We are now receiving confirmation about the pay differences between male and female jobs in South Lanarkshire - and the pay gap is far greater than even we imagined!
This is wonderful news for our clients - because it strengthens people's claims - and bad news for the council and the unions - who have been trying desperately to keep this information under wraps. More news will follow soon - so watch this space.
Well done to Glasgow by the way - here's to a great Commonwealth Games in 2014 - and congratulations to everyone involved in the successful bid!
Thursday, 8 November 2007
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
So let's make sure the story becomes the talk of the steamie in South Lanarkshire.
Because that will help turn the spotlight on the council and the trade unions who both have a lot to answer for - especially their behaviour in striking secret pay deals.
Deals that have kept women workers and ordinary union members completely in the dark about preferential treatment for traditional male jobs.
We will post brief details here as soon as the story is published - along with details of where to find the article on the Evening Times web site.
Spread the word to as many people as possible - and use the information to good effect in any meetings that you might be arranging with local Councillors, MSPs and MPs.
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
Confirmation of the council's bad behaviour quickly followed as the client revealed that new grades had been 'agreed' over the heads of staff - and imposed by management - but without any input or involvement from the Learning Assistants.
The council's behaviour breaks all the rules of Job Evaluation - which require staff to be fully involved at every stage. In fact, they are expected to sign off new job descriptions - to ensure that key duties and responsibilities are described accurately and fairly - before being assessed.
If this is what's happened to Learning Assistants, pound to a penny it's happened to many other groups of staff as well.
What should people do?
Don't accept this kind of shabby treatment - appeal the new grade - and demand a review. Even if a local appeal fails, the council's bad behaviour and deliberate flouting of the rules can be taken into account when people's cases are considered by the Employment Tribunals.
The employers have no absolutely excuse for cutting corners and deliberately freezing out their staff - after all, they've only had since 1999 to carry out this exercise and to do it properly!
So, we have edited the original letter addressed to the local Unison branch - and directed this at the GMB official who covers the South Lanarkshire area, a chap called Alan Duncan.
A copy of this letter can be sent to GMB members by e-mail on request - please send any enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Both Unison and the GMB are now likely to be joined to the Employment Tribunal proceedings that are underway against South Lanarkshire Council.
If the unions have signed up to a discriminatory pay and grading structure (as we say), then they are every bit as much to blame as the employer - and they will be held to account when it comes to damages.
Monday, 5 November 2007
This time the culprit is Unison - which has increased the woman's union contributions by £2.50 a month - up from £11.50 to £14.00 in a single bound.
Now this represents a whacking great 22% rise - or more than ten times the rate of inflation, depending on which measure you use.
If an employer acted this way, the trade unions would be shouting from the rooftops - calling for urgent action to tackle wildly rising charges and for such behaviour to be restrained.
But, of course, they won't because that would simply encourage members to ask awkward, if entirely reasonable, questions such as: "How can Unison possibly justify such an extraordinary increase - and what does the union plan to spend all the extra money on?"
One place it will go is straight onto the coffers of the Labour Party - despite the fact that in Scotland the great majority of union members support other political parties such as the SNP, Lib Dems, Greens, Conservatives, Independents and various socialist groups.
Union bosses should stay out of party politics - they should be looking after the real priorities of their members' - on vital issues like equal pay - which they have ignored for years and years, to the detriment of the lowest paid.
Dick Turpin would be proud of this modern day equivalent of highway robbery - but ordinary union members will be incensed - they should complain about their union bosses under the Trades Descriptions Act - for taking members' money under false pretences.
Saturday, 3 November 2007
One letter is aimed at Councillors/MSPs/MPs - the other is turning the spotlight on the role of the trade unions, in particular the local Unison branch.
We can e-mail an edited version of these articles to you - for use as a straightforward letter only (i.e. without the introduction and explanation) - which might make it easier for people to download, print off and use locally.
You will still have to include you own details (address and post code) - and date and sign the Unison letter.
You will have to do the same with the Councillor/MSP/MP letter, but in this case you will also need to decide which local politician to approach for help in persuading the Council to behave properly.
Please send any e-mail requests to: email@example.com
Thursday, 1 November 2007
But Stephen (a former left-wing firebrand and supporter of Militant - which grew into the Scottish Socialist Party) has been strangely quiet on the subject of Equal Pay.
As quiet as a mouse in fact - or even a Trappist Monk - because Stephen appears to have lost the ability to speak up for union members.
South Lanarkshire Council says that its Single Status pay structures were agreed by Unison and the other trade unions - but Stephen and his colleagues have remained silent while the row over Equal Pay and Single Status has raged in the press and media.
So, what is the position of Unison and the other trade unions - have they reached a collective agreement with the council and, if so, why are ordinary members being kept in the dark?
Here's a letter union members can send to their Unison branch secretary - which will help put Unison and the other trade unions on the spot. You just need to sign and date the letter after adding your address and post code.
Unison Branch Secretary
South Lanarkshire Council
South Lanarkshire Council - Single Status and Equal Pay
South Lanarkshire Council claims that the Single Status pay and grading structure introduced in 2004 was the result of a collective agreement with Unison and the other local trade unions.
As a Unison member, I would like you to supply me with the following information - so that I can see for myself exactly what happened in 2004.
1 I would like to know who signed and endorsed the Single Status Agreement in South Lanarkshire on behalf of Unison members - was this done by you or some other union official?
2 If Unison's agreement was given by an exchange of letters with the council, I would like a copy of this correspondence.
3 I would like a copy of the South Lanarkshire Single Status Agreement
4 I would like Unison to provide me with a copy of the Job Evaluation scores for all council jobs - so that I can see for myself how all posts (male and female) have been assessed and graded
5 I would like to know what the traditional male dominated jobs in South Lanarkshire have been paid since 2004 - i.e. the salary scales and pay rates for these jobs, not details of individual earnings. Unison must have access to this information since the trade unions negotiated the new salary scales when bonus payments ceased as part of the 2004 Single Status Agreement.
I believe that Unison has an obligation to provide me with this information on request, as part of the normal service and advice to members available under union rule.
I look forward to hearing from you soon
Contact details for Stephen:
South Lanarkshire Council
23 Beckford Street
Phone: 01698 454225
FAX: 01698 454219
Well here it is - the letter is not asking anyone to take sides at this stage - simply for their help in putting the facts on the table - so that everyone can judge for themselves how the council has behaved in introducing a new (Single Status) pay and grading structure.
All you need to do is date the letter - and add your name and address before sending it off to the Councillor, MSP or MP of your choice. If you need any further help, contact Action 4 Equality on 0131 667 7956.
South Lanarkshire Council - Single Status and Equal Pay
I am looking for your support in finding out exactly how Single Status has been implemented in South Lanarkshire Council. Under normal circumstances this information should be readily available to staff and others, but up till now council officials have been keeping the details hidden from public view and proper scrutiny.
In 2004 South Lanarkshire Council introduced a new (Single Status) pay and grading structure - one that was supposed to be fair and non-discriminatory - following a collective agreement with the trade unions.
Yet, the council stubbornly refuses to explain the details of the scheme to the people directly affected, or to explain why discriminatory pay practices continue to affect so many female dominated jobs.
For example, prior to 2004 a Home Carer was on a higher grade than a Refuse Driver - but after the new (and supposedly fairer) Single Status scheme was introduced the female dominated job has still been paid @£6,000 a year less (on full-time hours) than the male job.
The same is true of many other female dominated jobs in South Lanarkshire. Cooks, Catering Workers, Cleaners, Clerical Workers, Classroom Assistants and Nursery Nurses - are all paid much less than traditional male jobs such as Refuse Workers, Street Sweepers, Gardeners and Gravediggers!
All that has happened under Single Status is that South Lanarkshire has absorbed the old bonus payments (paid only to male jobs) into new salary scales - which are much higher than the salaries paid to comparable female jobs.
I am not asking you to support my individual case. What I am asking for is your help in establishing exactly what happened when Single Status was introduced in 2004. The onus is on South Lanarkshire to demonstrate that it acted fairly and consistently, but even to this day employees are being kept in the dark - despite promises that the process would be open and transparent.
My specific request are as follows:
1 I would like a copy of South Lanarkshire's Single Status Agreement with the unions
2 I would like a copy of the Job Evaluation scores for all council jobs - so that I can see for myself how all the male and female jobs have been graded - and whether or not the process was fair.
3 I would like to know what the traditional male dominated jobs have been paid under Single Status - i.e. the salary scales that have been applied to these jobs since 2004 - not details of individual earnings, which are clearly private and confidential.
All of this information should be freely available. Indeed it has been made available by many other councils in Scotland - including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Argyll & Bute. In my view South Lanarkshire has no excuse for treating its employees in this way and I would ask for your help in persuading the council to explain how key decisions on Single Status were reached.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
To add insult to injury, the Employment Tribunal also awarded costs against the council for wasting every one's time - a lesson for employers everywhere!
North Ayrshire had been arguing (ludicrously) that many of our clients claims were time barred - because of changes that had taken place to their jobs in 2005.
But having heard evidence from various quarters - the upshot was that the council simply shot itself in both feet (from close range) - and there was no case to answer.
A great WHOOP went up from the waiting room when our clients heard the news - the council was being forced to abandon a previously unshakeable position - on which senior officials were staking their lives only minutes before.
The same (and very highly paid officials) now need to explain to their political masters - just how they managed to waste vast sums of council tax payers money - in trying to defend the indefensible.
One wag at the hearing suggested that senior council officials are being wooed with a management buy-out from the Keystone Cops - though that has still to be confirmed!
More news to follow soon.
Meantime our grateful thanks to everyone who played a part in giving the council the wake up call it richly deserved - especially all those who turned up in their own time (unlike council officials) to see justice being done!
We will be sharing the good news with senior elected councillors in North Ayrshire - along with local MSPs and MPs - because it is to these local politicians that senior officials are accountable to ultimately.
Bottom line is - some searching questions need to be asked - in high places - about the performance and behaviour of said senior council officials!
Saturday, 27 October 2007
A pre-hearing review is scheduled for next week (29, 30 and 31 October) and the arrangements for the hearing have been under discussion for some time.
Stefan Cross suggested a test case involving only a few members of staff to minimise the disruption for everyone involved.
But for reasons known only to itself the council refused to play ball and has suddenly refused permission for any staff to attend during working time - which we believe to be a deliberate wrecking tactic on their part.
Stefan Cross wrote to all clients affected by this hearing late last week - urging people to attend the hearings. But by refusing to grant time-off North Ayrshire is deliberately making it impossible for most people to attend - unless they already have a scheduled day off.
We have spoken to a number of clients and have been told that the council arranged a hasty ring around on Friday - though outside office hours (i.e. after 5pm) - to say that people would not be granted time off to attend the hearing.
We will be complaining about the council's behaviour to the Chair of the Employment Tribunal on Monday - clients can do likewise to your own local councillor. Council officials are simply making the rules up as they go along - and to suit themselves.
Can you imagine a council manager being denied time off to give evidence at an important tribunal hearing - or having to take a day's leave to attend?
Not in a million years!
If you are in a position to attend next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday - let us know by phoning the office on 0131 667 7956 and leaving your contact details We will keep everyone up to date with developments later in the week.
Friday, 26 October 2007
The city council has now backed down and agreed to make revised settlements to male workers in predominantly female posts - i.e. carers, cooks, cleaners and so on.
The council said previously that it would not make new offers to these groups (for reasons known only to itself) - which caused a well deserved storm of protest in the local press and a flood of complaints to local councillors.
So, it just goes to show that making a fuss and giving the politicians a hard time - can make a big difference.
Well done to everyone who lent a hand - and forced the council to think again!
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
First of all, you have much more choice - you're no longer stuck with one party rule and stony faced politicians who are prepared to do no more than repeat the agreed party line.
Scotland's council wards are now typically made up of 3 or 4 councillors - there is not just one councillor for your local area. So, if you're being fobbed off by someone who's not really interested in your case or what you have to say - go and see one of the other councillors. And let the first one know that you will remember how they've behaved at election time.
Scotland's MSPs fall into two categories - individual MSPs who represent a single constituency and Regional list MSPs who cover a wider geographical area. In effect the Regional list MSPs ensure there is a political balance within the wider area that might otherwise be completely dominated by just one political party.
Lanarkshire - a good example
So, in Lanarkshire (north and south) for example, the Labour party completely dominates in the constituency seats section - while the regional list seats ensure that the SNP, Lib Dems Tories and others also have a voice. See post dated 4 October 2007.
So, make the most of the new set up - it's designed to give people more choice than the old 'first past the post' system.
Make your voice heard - and don't be fobbed off by some lazy party hack.
Monday, 15 October 2007
The article has a great quote from one of our clients - that the council is in denial over equal pay and that people are not going to give up and go away - just because the council has its head stuck in the sand.
Another local paper - the Rutherglen Reformer - has been in touch on the back of the Action 4 Equality meeting held in Blantyre last week - and is likely to have its own report when the paper comes out later this week. We could do with similar coverage in the Hamilton Advertiser and East Kilbride News - for anyone living in these areas.
So, local people speaking to their local newspapers is a very good way of getting our message across - but always remember to keep your name and personal details out of the story to avoid any repercussions from council management.
Journalists will always be happy to respect your confidentiality - so long as the facts of the story check out.
If they need a quote from a named person, they can always speak to Mark Irvine - especially as the trade unions in South Lanarkshire all seem to have lost their voice!
Thursday, 11 October 2007
Lots of good ideas came out of the meeting and these will be followed up soon. In the meantime, here are some of the questions and answers raised on the night:
Do employees in South Lanarkshire Council have the same claims as anywhere else?
Yes, because the pay gap between traditional male and female jobs in South Lanarkshire is just as great as it it in Glasgow, Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland.
Do the traditional male jobs in South Lanarkshire still receive bonus payments?
No, but these payments have simply been absorbed into basic salaries - so a refuse worker is paid thousands of pounds a year more than a carer - just like everywhere else
What kind of jobs can bring an equal pay claim?
Home Carers, Cleaners, Catering Assistants, Cooks, Catering Managers, Escorts, Classroom Assistants, Clerical Workers, Residential Care Staff, Nursery Nurses, etc - just about every low paid female dominated job in the council.
If and when we win our settlement from South Lanarkshire Council, will people who have not registered an equal pay claim benefit as well?
No, absolutely not - they won't receive a single penny in back pay - only those who are pursuing an equal pay claim will get the back money they are owed.
Is it too late to register a claim now?
No, people can still pursue a claim with the council - this claim goes back for up to 5 years from the date it is registered and them adds time on going forward until the case is resolved
What happens to my claim if I retire or leave my job?
Your claim freezes at the point your employment ceases, but otherwise continues as normal with all the others.
Can we speak to the press about what's going on in South Lanarkshire?
Yes, but ask them to withhold you name and personal details - to avoid any problems with the council. If they need a quote from a named person, give them Mark Irvine's contact details.
Have we been sold down the river by our trade unions?
Yes, absolutely - the unions have agreed to changes in your jobs which simply continue all the discriminatory pay practices of the past - single status in South Lanarkshire is a joke!
If you have any queries or need an equal pay application form, please contact Action 4 Equality on 0131 667 7956
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Previously she paid £2.46 every fortnight to the GMB, but right out of the blue this figure suddenly jumped to £5.02 - more than double, in fact - and without any warning or letter to explain what was going on.
Seems incredible, but they're you are!
Now, this can't be down to the great job the GMB has done over equal pay - quite the opposite, as many people realise. Truth is that if union dues were based on performance, the GMB would owe its members a full refund - for sitting around on their lazy backsides all these years.
Not surprisingly, the client has cancelled her membership - but has asked us to spread the word and encourage other union members to check their pay slips as well.
" I have paid union dues for 35 years and if it wasn't for Action 4 Equality, I know full well that the GMB would still be taking the piss", said AM. " I'm infuriated that the unions have had the audacity to keep us in the dark all these years, then feel it's OK to increase dues whenever they feel like it".
So, check and make sure you're not being royally ripped off by the GMB - or by anyone else for that matter.
Thursday, 4 October 2007
MSPs - Constituency MembersKaren Whitefield (Labour) Airdire and Shotts: Karen.Whitefield.firstname.lastname@example.org
Elaine Smith (Labour) Coatbridge and Chryston: Elaine.Smith.email@example.com
Cathie Craigie(Labour) Cumbernauld and Kilsyth: Cathie.Craigie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael McMahon (Labour) Hamilton and Bellshill: Michael.McMahon.email@example.com
Jack McConnell (Labour) Motherwell and Wishaw: Jack.McConnell.firstname.lastname@example.org
MSPs - Regional List Members
Margaret Mitchell (Conservative): Margaret.Mitchell.email@example.com
Hugh O'Donnell (liberal Democrat): Hugh.O'Donnell.firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Fabiani (SNP): Linda.Fabiani.email@example.com
Jamie Hepburn (SNP): Jamie.Hepburn.firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine McKelvie (SNP): Christine.McKelvie.email@example.com
Alex Neil (SNP): Alex.Neil.firstname.lastname@example.org
John Wilson (SNP) John.Wilson.email@example.com
John Reid (Labour) Airdire and Shotts: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank Roy (Labour) Motherwell and Wishaw: email@example.com
Tom Clarke (Labour) Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosemary McKenna (Labour) Cumbernauld and Kilsyth:email@example.com
All MSPs and MPs hold regular surgeries - that's often the best way for local constituents to raise concerns - and it would be quite acceptable for people to go along in small groups. If you need any further advice, please let us know.
You don't need to be an expert on equal pay to seek a meeting with your MSP or MP.
The key points to get across are the huge and unjustifiable differences in pay, the fact that people have been kept in the dark by both the employers and the unions and that other councils in Scotland are now trying to settle the issue.
So, why is North Lanarkshire Council still dragging its feet?
The position in North Lanarkshire is exactly the same as everywhere else - people's claims are all working their way through the Employment Tribunals - and as soon are there is any news or progress to share, the details will be reported here on this web site.
It's true that more and more councils are signalling a desire to reach a settlement - along similar lines to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling - and we hope to be making further announcements (regarding other councils) in the next couple of weeks.
But the employers are not settling out of charity or because they suddenly want to be kind to their staff!
No, these councils are settling because the law on equal pay is the same right across the country. And the employers can see that it will cost them even more, if cases go all the way through the Employment Tribunal process.
In the areas that have reached agreement so far, local politicians have come under terrific pressure to explain where they stand on equal pay - which in turn has put pressure on their local council to reach a negotiated settlement.
Many hands make light work. So, the more that local councillors, MPs or MSPs are put on the spot over their stance on equal pay - the sooner this whole business will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
The web site has plenty of information about how to raise the issue of equal pay with local councillors, MPs and MSPs - for more information have a look at the posts dated 1 August, 22 June and 16 February 2007.
Contact details for local councillors can be found either through your own local council's web site or via CoSLA at: http://www.cosla.gov.uk/
Similarly, contact details for MPs and MSPs can be found at the following addresses:
MPs - http://www.parliament.uk/
MSPs - http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/
In the current highly charged political climate, this is a great opportunity to demand that politicians come off the fence and support their local constituents over equal pay.
If you need any further advice or help, please contact Action 4 Equality Scotland on 0131 667 7956
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
Not because of the lack of trying on the part of Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross,it has to be said. But at this stage the council is only prepared to make revised offers to what they call manual worker staff - even though the term manual worker supposedly became obsolete many years ago, in 1999 to be exact.
Whatever Edinburgh Council says - the truth is that equal pay is really about the skills and responsibilities required required to do any two jobs that are being compared - not about whether one job was previously classified as 'manual' or 'white collar' (APT&C).
The important thing - in equal pay terms at least - is whether the employer can justify the pay gap between groups of predominantly male and and female jobs - which, of course, management and trade unions have turned a blind eye to for years.
But they can't of course - and that is why things need to change!
Because who would try and argue that a Cook Supervisor, Social Care Worker or a Classroom Assistant (in Edinburgh) - does a job with less skill and responsibility than a refuse worker.
Edinburgh Council has stubbornly refused to bite the bullet for these groups at this stage - but Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross believe that you still have a perfectly good claim - one that will succeed in the end. And for anyone who hasn't been made an offer at this stage, the fight for equal pay conintues.
So, don't despair - don't get mad, get even - give the council a taste of its own medicine!
The best way to put pressure on the council to resolve equal pay for once and for all - is for as many people as possible to bang in a proper equal pay claim.
Classroom Assistants, Clerical Workers, Social Care Workers, Nursery Nurses - as well as Cook Supervisors - all have very good claims. And people who have sat in the fence up until now can still register a claim.
So can those who accepted Edinburgh council's offer first time around - because the agreement people signed (Compromise Agreement) expired on 1 October 2006 - and from that date onwards everyone has a fresh claim
Ask yourself this question: "Is the money better off in the council's pocket or in mine?"
If you need any further advice or an application form, contact Action 4 Equality Scotland on 0131 667 7956.
Sunday, 16 September 2007
After much humming and hawing, Edinburgh City Council has finally confirmed that it will definitely be making revised offers to clients of Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross.
We had not heard from the Council on Thursday as agreed. So, by Friday lunchtime we had no option but to signal our intention of stepping up the campaign and to take our case to directly to Edinburgh´s elected councillors.
But very late on Friday, word suddenly came through that the Council had finally got its act together and would stop messing about - as it has been over the summer months.
So, while our plans to take the campaign to elected councillors won't now be necessary - our ability and willingness to do so proved crucial in the end.
Individual offers to Action 4 Equality/Stefan Cross clients are likely to be issued in late October with payments being made in November.
We will post other information here, as soon as details are confirmed.
Friday, 14 September 2007
Not for the first time, the council has failed to keep to its own deadline.
As of midday on Friday, we can only conclude that the lack of contact from the council means that elected councillors are trying to renege on the agreement that is being recommended to them - by both senior officials and the council`s external legal advisers.
So, as things stand the fight goes on - and the best response we can make is to put Edinburgh councillors under pressure to think again.
See the post dated 18 August regarding Home Care Coordinators in Glasgow. When Glasgow City Council tried to renege on their agreement, they didn`t take it lying down - they got organised and fought back.
And that´s exactly what we need to do now in Edinburgh!
Contact details for all Edinburgh councillors can be found on the council web site at: www.edinburgh.gov.uk