A number of readers have asked me to explain the history of equal pay and Single Status in South Lanarkshire - given the activity that's underway in terms of local meetings with MSPs.
So here's a brief summary of the key events:
1 In 1999 Scottish employers and trade unions introduced a new Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement - which aimed to eliminate the historical pay discrimination facing many female dominated jobs
2 Prior to Single Status most female dominated jobs (Cooks and Home Carers, for example) were concentrated at the bottom of the pay ladder - earning much less than the traditional male jobs such as refuse workers and gardeners.
3 Single Status was supposed to tackle this problem and ensure female jobs received a fair deal in future - going forward from 1999.
4 The key to achieving a fairer deal was a nationally developed and jointly recommended Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) - which the unions and employers were committed to and which was supposed to be in place by 2002 (later moved to 2004).
5 Scottish councils, including South Lanarkshire, spent £250,000 of public money developing the JES - but for reasons that have still to be explained, South Lanarkshire bailed out and implemented its own 'in-house' JES.
6 To this day South Lanarkshire Council refuses to explain the reasons for withdrawing from the national JES - or the identity of the authors of its own 'in-house' JES scheme.
7 The end result is that workers in South Lanarkshire Council are prevented from understanding how other council jobs are graded and paid - and it's fair to say that no other council in Scotland behaves in this secretive fashion.
8 Unsurprisingly, Single Status in South Lanarkshire Council has simply reinforced the historical pay differences between male and female dominated jobs - that existed prior to 1999 - with female dominated jobs still concentrated at the bottom of the pay ladder.
9 What happened is that the higher pay of traditional male jobs - including bonus and overtime payments - was simply Incorporated into new and higher annual salaries - which were then protected for life in April 2004.
10 The end result is that traditional male groups were treated much more favourably than their female colleagues - and they continue to reap the benefit - both in terms in terms of future earnings and higher pensions following retirement.
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