Wednesday, 14 October 2015

NLC Update (01/10/15)

The Motherwell Times reported on a well attended meeting on equal pay convened by Alex Neil MSP in Airdrie last week.

I understand that Alex Neil intends to organise another meeting in the near future to which senior figures from North Lanarkshire Council and the trade unions (GMB and Unison) will be invited to attend.

Let's hope they turn up and face the music.

But I was intrigued by the comments of the Council spokesperson who says that recent settlement terms offered to GMB members were proposed by the GMB itself - based on the claims that the GMB had lodged with the Employment Tribunals.

Now this flies in the face of 'explanations' I've heard myself from GMB officials who suggest that the union was duped or misled somehow, but this clearly cannot be the case if the GMB proposed settlement terms to the Council.

Not only that the GMB appears to have allowed some of its members to accept these terribly low offers of settlement without explaining that they are worth far less than the true value of their claims.

And to add insult to injury the Council now says it has paid out over £100 million in equal pay claims, but not a single elected politician or senior council official in North Lanarkshire has been held accountable for this appalling mess.

Council employees call for authority to take action on equal pay

Alex Neil MSP organised the meeting along with Neil Gray MP

More than 175 North Lanarkshire Council employees gathered at a meeting in Airdrie last week to call for action on equal pay claims.

The meeting, organised by Alex Neil MSP and Neil Gray MP, heard from Mark Irvine, a former full-time union official who now represents Equality Scotland, and Alison Martin and Donna Gray from the legal firm DM Legal.

Workers told how they had been ‘cheated out of big financial settlements by the authority’s failure to implement national agreements on equal pay’.

In some cases, workers have reportedly lost more than £10,000.

They also said they felt let down by UNISON and the GMB.

It was said in some cases the union had lost their claim and in others they had failed to fight for their members on the issue of equal pay.

Mark Irvine urged the workers not to give up but to keep on fighting. He said that the council will be forced by the Employment Tribunal to pay out eventually.

DM Legal, which represents many of North Lanarkshire Council’s employees, spelt out the need for unity in the struggle for fairness and urged those still owed money to work together to guarantee success.

Mr Neil said that it was outrageous that a Labour-run council had gone to great lengths to deny its own workers their legal entitlement to equal pay.

He added that the council had spent many hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal fees to attack their own workers.

Mr Gray said it was time for NLC to stop any more delaying tactics and pay out now.

The meeting voted to invite council leader, Jim McCabe, and the UNISON and GMB union leaders in Scotland to attend another meeting soon.

In response, a NLC spokesman said: “The council implemented a national agreement which was signed up to by the trade unions.

“To date, we have settled equal pay claims in excess of £100 million. The council has always adopted a position of paying claims where these are justified and will continue to treat claims on their legal merits

“We have offered compensation payments to 205 GMB members, 52 of which have been accepted to date, based on settlement terms proposed by the GMB and based on the claim GMB had lodged against the council.

“The council agreed settlement terms with Unison in March of this year.”