Friday, 16 October 2015

North Lanarkshire Council

A kind reader has passed on to me details of a letter from the GMB to union members in North Lanarkshire - the following two paragraphs caught my attention immediately:

"I (Gary Smith) have launched a full investigation into the North Lanarkshire case and a complete assessment of the legal strategy pursued by Digby Brown in relation to our equal pay cases in all of Scotland. If claims need to be amended, they will be, and if we have received the wrong advice we will take action to protect our members' position.

"In the meantime, if you are a GMB member and you have a case with Digby Brown, we will be happy to transfer it to a different firm if you are unhappy with the current placement. Please contact our GMB law firm - UnionLine - at or call them on 0300 333 0303, If you would like us to relocate your case. UnionLine is a legal firm owned by the union and operates on a not for profit basis."

Now it seems obvious to me that the GMB must have lost confidence in Digby Brown, but in the recent members' meetings I've attended the GMB explained that a national policy decision was responsible for restricting its members claims to only 3-years.

But now the GMB appears to be blaming Digby Brown although I fail to understand how members can be invited to transfer their equal pay claims elsewhere (to another law firm), without being told, first of all, what has gone wrong in relation to their claims Digby Brown.

So the following questions need an urgent answer, if you ask me:

1 Will the results of the GMB's investigation be shared with union members in North Lanarkshire?

2 Does the GMB now accept that its legal advice was wrong?

3 Will the GMB be sharing this legal advice with the members affected?

4 Will the GMB confirm that settlement proposals were put directly to North Lanarkshire Council by, or on behalf of, the GMB trade union? 

The sooner we have an independents complaints procedure for trade unions in the UK the better - because this is a perfect example of the difficulty that ordinary union members often have in holding big union bureaucracies to account.