Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Settlement Offers - Glasgow

Letters of settlement to clients in Glasgow will start going out today - Wednesday 30 May.

There has been a delay in receiving detailed information from Glasgow City Council, but this has finally arrived - and the intention is still to make payments by no later than 30 June 2007.

All those to whom the council is making a revised offer should receive a letter by the end of the week.

All those to whom the council is not making a revised offer at this stage - will continue with their claims.

The council's revised offer covers the period up to and including 31 March 2006.

All those who remain in the council's employment have an ongoing claim from 1 April 2006 - and for a further 3 years at least - because of the council's decision to protect the higher pay of the male groups.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Latest hearing dates

Here are the latest Case Management hearing dates that have been agreed with the Employment Tribunals.

11 June 2007
Argyll & Bute Council - Glasgow

12 June 2007
Stirling Council - Glasgow

12 June 2007
East Ayrshire Council - Glasgow

13 June 2007
Renfrewshire Council

13 June 2007
South Lanarkshire Council - Glasgow

14 June 2007
North Ayrshire Council - Glasgow

14 June 2007
West Dunbartonshire Council - Glasgow

15 June 2007
East Renfrewshire Council - Glasgow

27 June 2007
Clackmannanshire Council - Glasgow

08 August 2007
Falkirk Council - Glasgow

15 August 2007
East Dunbartonshire Council - Glasgow

21 August 2007
Midlothian Council - Edinburgh

21 August
East Lothian Council - Edinburgh


North Lanarkshire Council
A date for the next North Lanarkshire hearing is still being discussed behind the scenes - the council has until 8 July to respond to various procedural issues raised at the last ET hearing - so the next one will take place sometime after that date - details will be posted on the web site as soon as they are confirmed

A few points to bear in mind:

  1. New dates are always being arranged on a regular basis - so don't be anxious if your council is not mentioned in the latest list.
  2. New dates will be posted here - as soon they arise.
  3. People often phone on the day of the latest hearing asking for an update - this is unnecessary and simply overloads the phone - as any significant developments will be posted on the web site within a very short period of time.
  4. A breakthrough is just as likely to happen because of event taking place behind the scenes - away from the Employment Tribunal hearings - as happened in Glasgow recently.
So, the best and quickest way to get the latest news is to read the web site regularly - and to raise any specific queries by e-mail, if possible.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

New Contracts - Glasgow City Council

At the end of March 2007, Glasgow City Council announced that it would be imposing the terms of its Pay and Benefits Review on all council employees - including those who had still to sign up to the new contract.

The council issued a letter stating that the new contract would come into effect from April onwards whether people liked it or not. This should have meant that everyone went on to the same rate of pay - and that people were paid the back money they were due for the period April 2006 to March 2007.

But the council has now reneged on this promise and gone back on its word - and not for the first time either.

Some people who accepted the new contract - reluctantly or otherwise - have now been told that they will stay on a lower rate of pay (for how long no one seems to know) and that they will not receive the back pay they had been led to expect.

The council's behaviour is vindictive and bullying - to say one thing and then go back on its word is a disgrace and employees affected should complain vociferously to the council leader (Councillor Stephen Purcell) and also to their own local councillors.

All Glasgow councillors hold regular local surgeries and can normally be contacted relatively easily by making a personal appointment, or by phone and e-mail. Details of how to contact your local councillor are available from the City Chambers on 0141 287 2000

Alternatively, you can obtain these contact details from the council's web site at: http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/

If you have an case already underway with Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross, the money that the council has withheld (between April 2006 - March 2007) forms part of your ongoing equal pay claim.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

GLASGOW - STOP PRESS

Glasgow City Council has encountered some technical problems in connection with its offer of settlement letters to Stefan Cross - which means that letters will not start to be sent out to clients until next Monday at the earliest - i.e. Monday 21 May 2007.

However, this delay should not affect the planned timetable for payment - and the process should still be completed by 30 June 2007 at the latest.

We willl make an announcement here - as soon as things get underway - so watch this space.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Empty Promises and Equal Pay

You Scotland recently published the following article on equal pay - it can also be read on-line at their interactive and informative web site: www.youscotland.com


Hands up, who supports equal pay? Everyone does, don't they,because Scotland has come a long way since women worked just for 'pin money'.

But, if this is true, why are so many women workers still paid so much less than their male colleagues? Especially when women have had the law on their side - the 1970 Equal Pay Act - for almost 40 years!

The answer is that employers and trade unions have turned a blind eye to widespread pay discrimination for years. This explains why council carers - with highly demanding and responsible jobs - earn less then relatively unskilled male jobs, such as refuse workers and road sweepers.

Whatever they say about an unshakeable commitment to equality, the big public sector employers have been quietly defending the indefensible for years - and the trade unions have been prepared to look the other way.

In 1999, Scotland's local councils and trade unions signed an historic equal pay agreement. The proposed new system was intended to pay all workers fairly - regardless of gender, on the basis of real skills and responsibilities - recognising that old, outdated employer/union agreements undervalued and underpaid many predominantly female jobs.

A new approach required non-discriminatory schemes - that assessed and scored jobs relative to one another - to produce a fair and logical set of grades and rates of pay - across the entire workforce.


But what actually happened was nothing - for six long years. Then Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross came along and let the cat out of the bag - by highlighting the big pay differences between male and female jobs and by explaining how to fight back.

Overnight thousands of women workers started submitting equal pay claims - using the courts to get redress.

Collective bargaining had betrayed the very people it was supposed to serve. Predictably, the employers blamed the trade unions and the unions blamed the employers - even though both sides knew exactly what they were signing up to at the time.

Worse followed. Instead of being honest and acting with integrity, the unions collaborated with the employers to keep their women members in the dark - and simply ignored the huge and ongoing pay gap with the men. This duplicity has led to thousands of low paid women members suing their own trade unions for the lack of proper legal advice and professional support.

Pay discrimination is also rife in Scotland's NHS. Again the employers and trade unions came up with a similar solution - Agenda for Change - a new grading system which has been sold as dealing with equal pay, but is nothing of the sort.Instead, Agenda for Change is a mechanism for protecting men's pay and avoiding equal pay claims.

NHS pay structures are completely crazy. The equal pay gap has been widely known to employers and since 1997 at least - when large scale claims were first made in Cumbria.

Cumbria's claims established that nursing assistants did jobs of equal value to male maintenance workers, but the men were being paid £4,000 a year more than the largely female nurses.

Likewise, fully trained and highly qualified nurses earned less than male electronics technicians - and medical secretaries less than joiners and painters. Even senior nurses - with years of specialist training - were being paid less than junior maintenance managers.

So, the people looking after property were being paid more than those caring for patients!

Recent events have shown the unions up in their true colours. Unions like to portray themselves as champions of equal pay, but collective bargaining has let women workers down - big time.

The difference is that people now have a choice - they don't need to stay trapped inside the world of employer/union agreements - a kind of industrial relations 'black hole'. That's why so many are now prepared to hold the unions to account - and consider other solutions to their problems.

Scotland's unions have lost the plot on equal pay. Women workers have been betrayed by a tribal male culture, driven by windy rhetoric, wedded to one political party, compromised and ultimately paralysed by its own vested interests.

Mark Irvine
April 2007

Saturday, 5 May 2007

DIY Trade Unions

A client from Edinburgh has been in touch to ask if she can transfer an equal pay claim from her trade union to Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross.

The reason being that she has received a letter from the union to say that they are processing her claim - but it goes on to ask her if she can provide information about the earnings of likely male comparators!

Now this really is crazy - and takes the biscuit for sheer cheek.

The unions know fine well what their male members are paid - after all they negotiated the higher rates of pay with the employers in the first place - so asking their women members to supply these details is simply dishonest.

The unions have also been taking contributions off most of their members for many years - millions and millions of pounds when it's all added up - asking their women members for some Do- It-Yourself help with complex legal issues is deliberately misleading - in fact treating people like fools!

So, the answer to the client who raised the question is a resounding YES! The person concerned already has a claim running with Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross against her local council - but she has a second part-time job in the NHS.

Her union was dealing with the NHS claim - but she is so disgusted with their attitude DIY approach to equal pay that she wants to vote with her feet.

This can be done very easily - we will send her a form to transfer her equal pay claim from the trade union to Stefan Cross - the advantage of transferring the claim (instead of submitting a new one) is that the original date will be used in terms of registering her case with the Employment Tribunals - so she will not lose out in any way.

If you know of anyone in a similar situation, we can send the information they need - either through the post or via e-mail.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Edinburgh City Council - STOP PRESS

A client from Edinburgh City Council has been in touch to say that she has received a letter from Unison - belatedly asking if she wants help from the union in possibly pursuing an equal pay claim!

Unison - rather late in the day - has decided that APT&C staff (as well as manual workers) may well have a valid equal pay claim against their employer - which is what Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross have been saying for years.

Unison is worried because - as well as pursuing the council - many people are also now suing their trade unions because of the union's failure to advise and support members properly over equal pay - many union members have lost thousands of pounds because of union negligence.

So, Unison are just trying to cover their backsides rather than taking a serious interest in their members rights to equal pay - if the latter were true they would have been encouraging members to pursue cases years ago.

Our advice - to existing Action 4 Equality/Stefan Cross clients is just to ignore the letter from Unison - if you are interested in pursuing a claim against Edinburgh City Council and holding the union to account as well, we are happy to help.

Midlothian Council - STOP PRESS

A client from Midlothian Council has been in touch to say that the management are in the process of issuing new contracts of employment to staff.

We have asked for a copy of the paperwork to be sent to us - so that we can assess whether or not signing a new contract would have an adverse effect on people's equal pay claims - which may well be the case.

So, our advice at the moment is - NOT TO SIGN ANYTHING AT THIS STAGE - we will issue more detailed advice - either via the web site or by letter - once we have a had a chance to study the detail of what the council has to say.

Agenda for Change = Unfair and Discriminatory

Agenda for Change is a job evaluation scheme - pure and simple - it's not rocket science and it's supposed to do what it says on the tin - i.e. assess and rank NHS jobs in an objective, fair and consistent manner.

But Agenda for Change was cobbled together in a great hurry - and only after a series of successful equal pay claims in the Cumbria NHS Trust sent the employers and the trade unions into a panic. For years before they had been happy to negotiate grading structures that paid male tradesmen and technicians much more than nurses and other predominantly female jobs.

So Agenda for Change was born with a very specific agenda in mind - and it was conceived by the very same people who had turned a blind eye to the scandal of equal pay in the NHS for years.

Now these same people will say that Agenda for Change is fair - that it rewards NHS employees for the skills that they use in their jobs - and that it doesn't discriminate against women, or anyone else for that matter.

Baloney!

Because Agenda for Change is being mismanaged and distorted locally - the information about the pay and grading outcomes for all jobs - male and female alike - is being deliberately kept hidden from NHS staff - so that people cannot see for themselves how one job is paid and graded according to another.

Fair and transparent it ain't - especially in this modern 21st century world which allegedly revolves around freedom of information.

So, what are the obvious problems with Agenda for Change?

  • For a start, 99.9% of people on the new Band 1 (the lowest paid band) are - you guessed it - women. Statistically speaking this is ridiculous and it makes a complete mockery of the whole exercise - women are still stuck at the bottom of the NHS pay ladder.
  • Agenda for Change treats male jobs more favourably than women - for example some male tradesmen get higher scores than nurses for Emotional Demands - yet unlike ward and community-based nurses they have no direct patient contact whatsoever!
  • The employers (and the unions) say medical secretaries and tradesmen are both being treated fairly by being allocated to the same Band - yet the male job is paid a salary of £22,000 while the women's job is paid only £16,000 - and the female job can't progress all the way to the top of the pay scale - while the male job can.
  • Before Agenda for Change a D grade nurse was assessed as being of equal value to a male electronics technician (Grade MTO3) - but after Agenda for Change the same two jobs have fared very differently - the male job is on Band 6 or even 7 - while the nurses job is routinely awarded only Band 5.
  • Before Agenda for Change Nursing Assistants were evaluated as doing jobs of equal value to male maintenance workers - but after Agenda for Change the female dominated nursing jobs are getting paid thousands of pounds less.
  • Male jobs benefit enormously from pay protection under Agenda for Change - their higher salaries and rates of pay continue until 2010 at least - whereas the undervalued jobs of women workers remain stuck at the bottom of the heap.
  • Many male dominated jobs benefit from an automatic recruitment and retention payment of £2,000 a year - yet the same level of payment is denied to most female dominated jobs - the difference in treatment cannot be justified.
  • Midwives under Agenda for Change are often given Band 7 - while comparable male jobs are being paid £10,000 per year more - but the higher pay of the male comparators is kept hidden by the employers and the trade unions.
  • Agenda for Change in only being backdated to October 2004 - whereas an equal pay claim submitted today could be backdated to May 2002 - so the employers and the trade unions are cheating NHS staff out of 2.5 years of back pay.

Now that's why NHS employees should appeal their Agenda for Change grade and pursue an equal pay claim to the Employment Tribunals.

The present mess won't be sorted out within the NHS - because the employers and the trade unions are not just incompetent - they're also terrified that the decisions of their local grading panels will be properly scrutinised by an independent external body.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

NHS Update

A case management hearing for Scotland's NHS equal pay claims was held on Tuesday 1 May 2007.

Progress is still tortuously slow - the NHS employers are dragging their feet pretending they don't have the information they've been asked to provide about male comparators - by the employment tribunal.

The employers were asked back in October 2006 to provide details of all job titles and rates of pay for all NHS posts - the reason being that this would make it possible to see - at a glance - the different salaries and rates of pay that apply to different male and female jobs.

This would also allow a date for a Stage 1 hearing to be agreed - which would set in place a timetable for dealing with all the outstanding NHS cases.

At a Stage 1 hearing all the parties (the employers, trade unions, Action 4 Equality/Stefan Cross) would be required to spell out exactly where they stand in relation to Agenda for Change.

The NHS employers say Agenda for Change is not discriminatory and - surprise, surprise - the trade unions (Unison and GMB - the RCN is not pursuing any equal pay claims) agree with their chums on the employers' side.

Only Action 4 Equality/Stefan Cross are arguing that Agenda for Change is being implemented in a discriminatory manner - that it is reinforcing significant and unjustified pay differences between male and female jobs.

And only Action 4 Equality/Stefan Cross are arguing that the tribunal should move as quickly as possible to a Stage 1 hearing - so that these issues can be put to the test.

The trade unions on the other hand have again agreed to give the employers more time to produce information they were originally asked for some 8 months ago.

Now this is all the more ludicrous when you realise that the trade unions have had easy access to these details all along. The trade unions negotiated the pre-Agenda for Change salaries and rates of pay - so they know fine well what different jobs were paid in the past.

And, of course, the unions are now responsible for jointly agreeing the post-Agenda for Change bandings and grades - so they know the new salaries and rates of pay that are currently in operation as well.

So, this charade of asking the NHS employers for information that the trade unions already have access to is simply a delaying tactic and an extraordinary waste of everyone's time.

Another case management hearing has been set for 2 July 2007 - and soon the tribunal will have no option but to get down to brass tacks.

Frustrating as it is, the employers and the trade unions are both being dragged - albeit kicking and screaming - to a Stage 1 hearing - a day they are desperate to delay, but ultimately one they cannot avoid.

Coming soon ...Why Agenda for Change is unfair and discriminatory...watch this space!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Unison News

A client has been in touch to say that the latest edition of the Unison Magazine is bad mouthing Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross - by advising union members to steer clear of us because we're only in it for the money etc, etc, etc.

That's a bit rich coming from Unison which has been charging its members millions of pounds over the years - in union contributions - while deliberately keeping them in the dark about equal pay - and, of course, the huge differences in pay between male and female workers.

The fact is that Unison (along with the other unions) has been prepared to turn a blind eye to the problem - and has only taken an interest in the issue since Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross came along - and let their cat out of the bag.

What really annoys the unions is that we're doing what they should have been doing for the past 7 or 8 years - using the law (which is on the side of local council and NHS workers) to get after the employers.

Action 4 Equality/Stefan Cross charge a reasonable fee (10% + VAT) for providing a professional service - and we only charge for success. Whereas the unions have been taking money from their members under false pretences for years.

What does the average union member have to show for paying 10 years of union contributions? Nothing whatsoever when it comes to equal pay.

And if Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross hadn't come along when it did - union members would still be completely unaware that - in the 21st century - their own trade union reps were still negotiating and defending pay agreements - they knew to be discriminatory and unlawful.

So, don't take any lectures from trade unions like Unison - because they have a track record to be ashamed of on equal pay and standing up for their women members!