Tuesday, 28 August 2007

***GLASGOW - STOP PRESS***

Good news for Home Care Coordinators in Glasgow!

Common sense has finally broken out after the flurry of activity over the past few days - see post dated 24 August 2007.

Glasgow City Council has now agreed that Home Care Coordinators will be treated in exactly the same way as everyone else - and quite right too!

So, people's claims will now be re-calculated and re-issued as quickly as possible - this will be given top priority after all the unnecessary delay and behind the scenes arguments for the past couple of months.

A great big Thank You to everyone who got in touch with their local councillors and the council leadership - this made all the difference in helping to bring the dispute to a swift and satisfactory conclusion.

We were only asking for fair play and equal treatment for Home Care Coordinators - but sometimes you've got to fight for what's right.

And that's a lesson for clients everywhere.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Glasgow - Home Care Coordinators

A letter is on its way to Home Care Coordinator (HCC) clients in Glasgow - advising that the council is making a pig's ear of their settlement offers.

Many of the offers are based on their contracted hours of 30 hours per week - whereas most, if not all, HCCs work additional hours which should also be taken into account when calculating the value of their individual settlements.

No other group of staff have been treated this way - and council officials are unable to explain why they think it's fair to treat Home Care Coordinators differently.

So, after weeks of trying to resolve the problem by patient behind the scenes discussions - the dispute is now out in the open. The council has been told that we cannot recommend HCC clients to accept that they should be treated as second class citizens.

If a satisfactory solution cannot be found (i.e. one that treats Home Care Coordinators in the same way as everyone else), our view is that these cases will proceed all the way to the Employment Tribunals.

Meantime, the politicians need to be put on the spot - they will be unable to justify the council's treatment of the Home Care Coordinators - but the more important question is: What are they doing to put things right?

HCC clients can help by seeking a meeting with their local councillor/s - and insisting that the Home Care Coordinators be treated in exactly the same way as everyone else.


The names, contact numbers and e-mail addresses of individual councillors can be found on the Glasgow City Council web site: www.glasgow.gov.uk

The Glasgow council leader - Steven Purcell - is a fair minded kind of person, normally, and has taken an interest in the treatment of Home Care Coordinators in the past - his e-mail address is: steven.purcell@councillors.glasgow.gov.uk

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

SCOTTISH NURSE MAGAZINE

A new Action 4 Equality advert will appear in this month's edition of the Scottish Nurse magazine.

We can send you a copy of the advert by e-mail, on request, along with the paperwork you need - if you'd like to pursue an NHS equal pay claim.

This particular advert is aimed at nurse and midwives - and gives details of the likely size of people's claims.But there are many other groups with equally valid claims - which cover just about all of the NHS jobs carried out predominantly by women workers (medical secretaries, physiotherapists etc).

The advert asks three crucial questions:

  1. ARE YOU FED UP WITH EMPTY PROMISES ABOUT AGENDA FOR CHANGE?
  2. ARE YOU PUZZLED AT THE RCN's AND RCM's LAID BACK APPROACH TO EQUAL PAY?
  3. EVER WONDERED WHY UNISON IS SO USELESS AT STANDING UP FOR ITS MEMBERS?

If you answer YES to one or more of these questions, then you should definitely pursue an NHS equal pay claim - and the sooner this gets going the better because it triggers a back pay claim of up to five years.

If you would like Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross to take up your case, contact Mark Irvine on 0131 667 7956 or by e-mail at: markirvine@compuserve.com

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Union Bosses and Equal Pay

While ordinary union members struggle to get what they really deserve when it comes to equal pay - just how well do the big union bosses do in terms of their their own pay and rations?

After all, the trade unions have hardly been pulling out all the stops in the fight for equal pay - the progress that's been made, of late, has been in spite of the unions not because of them - and left to their own devices the unions would still be keeping their members in the dark.

In local government - as our clients know - there was scarcely a word from the unions about equal pay until Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross came along.

And in the NHS - the unions are in two minds about whether to sing the praises of Agenda for Change, or to denounce the way it has been implemented in many areas - probably because the unions are jointly responsible for implementing Agenda for Change along with NHS management.

Anyway, this lack of urgency on equal pay has not stopped the brothers and sisters at the top of the trade unions from earning their daily bread - though surely these big salaries can't be linked to performance - if it were, they'd be sending out for food parcels!

Tpp of the pops in the 2007 pay stakes according to the Report of the Certification Officer (Union Commissioner) are as follows:

Number 1

The RCN general secretary - Dr Peter Carter - who receives a salary package of £143, 426 (£123,588 in salary + 19,838 in benefits).

Number 2

The RCM general secretary - Dame Karlene Davis - who receives a salary package of £141,002 (£102,921 in salary + £38,081 in benefits).

Number 3

The Unison general secretary - Dave Prentis - who receives a salary package of £117,626 (£87,659 in salary + £29,967 in benefits).

Now these guys and gals might not have been setting the heather on fire over equal pay - but it has to be said that they certainly know how to look after themselves - they get paid more than most government ministers.

A Midwife's Tale

A group of midwives from Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board has been in touch recently with a tale of meanness and mendacity - at the way they have been assimilated onto Agenda for Change.

Apparently, the midwives were placed on Band 5 (from October 2004) with the expectation that they would progress seamlessly onto Band 6 after a further year's service - i.e. from October 2005.
But - and there always seems to be a but with Agenda fo Change - the local NHS management now say that the midwives are stuck on Band 5 for the foreseeable future - for reasons that no one seems able or willing to explain.

The midwives go on to say that their trade unions - Unison and the RCM - are about as much use as a chocolate teapot! And what can they do?

Well, what they should do are two things.

Firstly, they should appeal their Agenda for Change grades - which are ridiculously low at Band 5. We have examples of midwives being placed at Band 7 in other parts of the country - and Agenda for Change is supposed to be a national framework that is implemented fairly and consistently across all NHS employers (see previous post dated 12 July).

Secondly, they should register a separate equal pay claim with the Employment Tribunals - as this takes the issue outside of the all too cosy relationship between NHS management and the trade unions.

The reality is that NHS staff are being kept in the dark about gradings within their own health board and across other NHS employers - yet this information is crucial to convince people that the process of change is being implemented fairly and consistently across the country - the employers and the trade unions stubborn refusal to share the details with staff speaks for itself.

Our view is that Agenda for Change is letting NHS staff down very badly - and this tale from midwives in the front line certainly seems to back that up.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Politicians and Equal Pay

More and more clients are taking the fight for equal pay to the politicians - local councillors, Holyrood MSPs and even Westminster MPs

North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire and West Lothian are good examples - areas where the council has behaved very badly, has got people's backs up and spurred them into action.

For example, a group of clients in North Ayrshire met recently with their local MP Katy Clark - a politician who lists equal opportunities as one of her special interests. North Ayrshire Council has just imposed a new pay and grading structure on its employees - as did West Lothian Council a few weeks previously.

Our clients were able to point out that the local Labour MP, Jim Devine, was quick to denounce the council - and he invited our new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to do the same - which he duly did.

Perhaps Jim Devine and Gordon Brown's enthusiasm can be explained by the fact that West Lothian is an SNP controlled council - because in North Ayrshire, Katy Clark is not quite so keen to lay in to the local Labour controlled council.

But these kind of double standards just get the politicians a bad name - if they are prepared to turn a blind eye when it's 'one of their own', then they'll come unstuck with the voters - sooner or later - and that's what people ought to tell them to their face.

Another topical issue is the provision of information on earnings - between male and female groups - typically the male groups have earned big bonus payments which the employers and the trade unions have kept hidden from the women workers.

Many councils are still refusing to publicise this information - but some take a more enlightened view - such as Argyll & Bute Council which has released a very report that highlights the different earnings of traditional male groups.

The report shows that street sweepers, refuse workers, gravediggers, gardeners road workers (to name a few) all received substantial bonus payments denied to the women - which paid the men an extra £2 to £3 an hour more than the women workers - who were on equivalent grades. The following examples are all based on 37 hours:

  1. Street Sweeper: Bonus = £3,300 per year


  2. Gardener: Bonus = £4,056 per year


  3. Gravedigger : Bonus = £4194 per year


  4. Chargehand Gardener: Bonus = £4,500 per year


  5. Driver: Bonus = £4,753 per year


  6. Road Worker: Bonus = £6,600 per year

Now these bonuses were worth an extra 30% - 50% on top of the men's basic pay - and bonus payments were restricted to traditionally male jobs - the women's jobs never got a look in even though the women worked just as hard (or harder) and their jobs often carried a great deal more responsibility.

So, these are the facts the employers can't run away from - they promised to end this pay discrimination in 1999, but did nothing about it until Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross came along.

If you would like a copy of the Argyll & Bute report, we can send you one by e-mail on request - the situation varies from council to council, but the pay gaps between the male and female jobs are broadly similar.

So make a point of letting your local councillor, MSP and MP know what you think. Make an appointment to go and see them - put the facts on the table and ask the politicians where they stand.

If you need any help, have a look at the following web sites where you will find useful contacts: CoSLA - for local councils and councillors ( www.cosla.gov.uk), the Scottish Parliament - for Holyrood MSPs (www.scottish.parliament.uk) and the Westminster Parliament - for local MPs (www.parliament.uk)

Alternatively contact Mark Irvine on 0131 667 7956 or at: markirvine@compuserve.com

South Lanarkshire Council

Clients in South Lanarkshire are getting increasingly restive because of their council's refusal to face up to reality on equal pay.

South Lanarkshire is the only council in Scotland not to have offered some form of compensation to predominantly female workers - whose jobs have been undervalued and underpaid for many years.

The council says it introduced a fair job evaluation system in 2004 - but crucially the council refuses point blank to share the details with anyone - including thousands of their own employees. The details of the scheme are also known to the trade unions - apparently but they won't let their members in on the secret either.

Open, honest and transparent this ain't - so the fight continues!

As senior councillors know, the pay gap between traditional male and female groups is as wide in South Lanarkshire as in any other part of Scotland. Just ask a refuse worker or a gardener in South Lanarkshire what they're paid - compared to a Home Carer or School Cook?

Our clients know - because they live and work alongside their friends, neighbours and other family members who do these jobs - and they won't be conned into believing that South Lanarkshire doesn't have an equal pay problem - because the truth is they have a bigger problem than most other councils.

So, it's time to put the facts in front of local politicians - some of whom are in denial over equal pay, while other just don't know what's been happening all these years.

For example, South Lanarkshire used its own (back of a fag packet Job Evaluation Scheme) instead of the one recommended by CoSLA. Funny that, especially as the President of CoSLA at that time was - and still is - Pat Watters, a senior figure in South Lanarkshire Council

An Action 4 Equality client went to see Pat Watters recently. Our client wanted to know, quite reasonably, what the male groups of workers are paid - not details of individuals earnings, which are obviously private, but the average earnings and rates of pay that these traditionally male jobs attract.

Surprise, surpise - Pat Watters would not provide her with this information and tried to fob the woman (and council tax payer) off by referring her back to council officials who would, allegedly, deal with her request.

Now if Pat Watters - or anyone else in South Lanarkshire can show there has not been a huge pay gap between male and female jobs all these years - we will pack our bags and go home!

Given the council's stubborn attitude we are now helping our clients in South Lanarkshire to put the facts to local politicians - and to ask them where they stand on equal pay. The council's web site has contact details for all local councillors at: http://www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/

If you need help in finding the right person for you area, get in touch with Mark Irvine - here are some of the key players:

Pat Watters - President of CoSLA (the Scottish employers umbrella body) and senior SLC councillor: pat.watters@southlanarkshire.gsx.gov.uk or by phone on 07748 114617

Eddie McAvoy - Labour Leader of South Lanarkshire Council and former trade union official: councillor.mcavoy@southlanarkshire.gsx.gov.uk or by phone on 07748 114583

Archie Buchanan - Leader of the SNP group in South Lanarkshire:
archie.buchanan@southlananrkshire.gsx.gov.uk

David Baillie - Lib Dem leader in South Lanarkshire:
david.baillie@southlanarkshire.gsx.gov.uk

Beith Forrest - Leader of the Conservatives and part of SLC's ruling Labour/Tory coalition:
beith.forrest@southlanarkshire.gsx.gov.uk

Tommy Gilligan - Leader of the Independents on South Lanarkshire:
tommy.gilligan@southlanarkshire.gsx.gov.uk

In addition, there are a whole host of MSPs whose consituencies cover part of the council area - here is a selection

Labour MSPs

  1. Karen Gillon - Karen.Gillon.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

  2. Andy Kerr - Andy.Kerr.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

  3. Tom McCabe - Tom.McCabe.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

SNP MSPs

  1. Linda Fabiani -Linda.Fabiani.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

  2. Alex Neil - Alex.Neil.msp@scottishparliament.uk

  3. Bill Kidd - Bill.Kidd.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

Green MSP

  1. Patrick Harvie - Patrick.Harvie.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

Lid Dem MSP

  1. Robert Brown - Robert.Brown.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

Conservative MSP

  1. Margaret Mitchell - Margaret.Mitchell.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

Adding Insult to Injury - Pensions and Equal Pay

A number of readers have been in touch to ask what the connection is between pensions and equal pay.

The answer is that after years of being cheated at work, pay discrimination against women simply continues - gets worse in some respects - adding insult to injury - even into a well earned retirement!

The reason being that people's pensions are based on their final salary or earnings - so a Home Carer earning £12,000 per year (on full-time hours) will retire on on much smaller pension that a Refuse Driver earning £18,000 - even though the woman has been on a higher grade than the man for many years!


Take the same two examples (Home Carer and Refuse Driver) both with maximum service of 40 years in the pension scheme:
  1. The woman would retire on half her pension and get a lump sum of three times this amount - i.e. £6,000 a year and £6,000 x 3 = £18,000 as a lump sum


  2. But the male worker would receive a pension of £9,000 a year (half of £18,000) and a cash free lump sum of 3 x £9,000 = £27,000
So, if the woman worker were to live another 20 years she would lose £71,000 in total - i.e. 20 x £3,000 (£60,000) plus the £11,000 difference between the two lump sums - a small fortune to many people.

And, of course, the employers and the trade unions have known about this for years - which is the biggest scandal of all!

Unison has been in the papers recently banging on about pensions - the union's senior lay member and Scottish convener, Mike Kirby, an old friend of North Lanarkshire's Iris Wylie, by the way (see post dated 12 July), has been very vocal of late - for the first time, in a long time.

And yes, this is the same Mike Kirby who kept his head down when the going got rough over Equal Pay - right at the point when low paid members across Scotland desperately needed the full support and backing of their union leaders.

Edinburgh City Council - Still on Course!

We reported on 1 July that Edinburgh City Council was preparing to make revised offers of settlement to clients of Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross.

The planned timetable has slipped a little bit, but the good news is that we are still on course for this to happen - all being well within the next couple of weeks.

Council officials are taking slightly longer than expected to check and re-check their calculations - but they do seem intent on trying to get things right first time - the silver lining in this particular cloud may be that it avoids a lot of time consuming and unnecessary enquiries at the other end of the process.

The council has still to decide whether its revised offer will be restricted to certain groups of staff - i.e. only former manual workers. Our position is that all of our clients have perfectly valid claims - including social care workers, clerical staff and classroom assistants - groups which have been badly let down by the unions over recent years.

The unions are apparently saying members that their members claims won't be resolved for many months - until well into 2008 - even those which are straightforward and uncomplicated.

Don't know why that should be - but if anyone wants to transfer their claim to Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross, this can be done very easily - lots of people have done so already, having finally seen through the trade union doublespeak and lost patience with their local reps.

For further information on how to transfer your claim contact Mark Irvine on 0131 667 7956 or e-mail: markirvine@compuserve.com

As soon as there is a definite timetable agreed with Edinburgh City Council - we will post the details here on the web site.