Saturday, 3 December 2016

Money For Nothing

Here's another post from the blog site archive which might provide some musical inspiration for union members who are unhappy about being excluded from North Lanarkshire's job evaluation (JE) review. 


Money For Nothing (03/09/16)

A regular reader has come up with a great suggestion for a song or a musical number that paints a picture of the Unison South Lanarkshire branch.

My proposal which I posted yesterday was 'Can I Have My Money Back?' by the Scottish singer songwriter Gerry Rafferty, but I think I might have been outdone the following nomination - 'Money For Nothing' by Dire Straits.

Now I can see this catching on because it's great fun, so keep you ideas coming by dropping me an email at:

Can I Have My Money Back? (01/12/16)

If trade union members in North Lanarkshire are being encouraged to look after their own interest when it comes to job evaluation, maybe they should ask for a reduction in their union fees.


Can I Have My Money Back? (August 2015)

14 August 2015

Unison contributions or membership fees operate on a sliding scale based on what people earn - £1.30 a month for a salary of up to £2,000 and a maximum of £22.50 a month for those earning over £35,000 a year.

The 5th point on this scale is £7.85 a month which is paid by members earning £11,001 to £14,000 a year - and that seems like a reasonable figure to use as the contribution Unison members pay on average in your average Unison branch.

So let's apply that figure to Unison in South Lanarkshire and calculate how much the union has collected or earned in contributions from members in places like Hamilton, East Kilbride, Rutherglen and Lanark over the past 14 years. 

Now I'm using 14 years for a good reason - because the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement was signed by Unison and the Scottish council employers - including South Lanarkshire Council - just over 14 years ago.

The South Lanarkshire Unison branch claims to have 6,000 members on its books - so let's say only 5,000 of that number (a conservative figure) are directly employed by South Lanarkshire Council. 

5,000 members x £7.85 x 12 months x 14 years = £6,594,000 (£6.59 million UK pounds) - which is a whole lot of money by any standards, but the serious question I'd like to pose is this:

"Does anyone in their right mind believe that Unison members in South Lanarkshire have received value for money for their £6.59 million - especially in the fight for Equal Pay over the past 14 years?" 

I suspect not and if I were a Unison member in South Lanarkshire Council - I'd be asking for a full refund or in the words of the famous Gerry Rafferty song 'Can I Have My Money Back?'.

Gerry Rafferty Sings (14/08/15)

I'd like to nominate the following song as the new anthem for the Unison branch in South Lanarkshire Council - "Can I Have My Money Back?", by Gerry Rafferty.

If readers have any other suggestions, I'll happily share them on the blog site.

North Lanarkshire Update (01/12/16)

Here are two posts from the blog site archive which relate to NLC's job evaluation (JE) review.

Now as far as I know, no further posts have been brought into the review in spite of the developments at the Employment Tribunals.

For the life of me I can't understand the local trade unions and their DIY approach to equal pay which puts the onus on individual members to raise issues instead of the TUs taking the initiative on their members' behalf. 

As I said back in June 2016 - "Why have a dog and bark yourself?"

No doubt trade members in North Lanarkshire are scratching their heads and asking what they pay their union fees for - if they have to represent themselves.


**STOP PRESS** (16/06/16)

A kind reader has sent me the following statement which appeared on the Facebook page of the Unison North Lanarkshire Branch earlier today, apparently.


"Last week the outcome of some job re-evaluations related to equal pay was approved by the council. The jobs that were re-evaluated were identified by the unions and solicitors involved the equal pay case and the re-evaluation was part of the legal settlement. The posts were home support worker, school crossing patroller, playground supervisor, road sweeper, two grades of gardener and chargehand gardener.

"UNISON is currently in negotiations with council about re-evaluating the other posts that were part of the equal pay litigation.

"Members whose posts were not part of the equal pay case, and think their job is graded wrongly, are able to apply for re-grading through existing procedures. If you want to submit a re-grading claim, speak to your line manager in the first instance and then contact the branch office for further advice."

Now putting aside the fact that union members and the wider workforce are still awaiting details on what exactly has been agreed (without balloting the members), what jumps out at me is the fact that individual members are being expected to do all the 'heavy lifting'.

Reminds me of the old saying, "Why have a dog and bark yourself?" 

Because surely it's the job of the trade unions to be leading from the front and raising these issues on behalf their members, as opposed to telling people DIY-style to fend for themselves.

DIY and Equal Pay (02/03/14)

A number of readers have been in touch about the post on advice to union members over equal pay - from around the country and not just South Lanarkshire.

A typical comment is that their union is not interested and tells people they should have registered an equal pay claim - that this was their individual responsibility not the union's acting collectively.

Now this is a very odd stance to take if you have ask me, because when trade unions try to sign up new members they make a positive case about of the benefits of union membership and actively persuade people to join.

In other words it's not a spectator sport, so where did this DIY approach to equal pay come from all of a sudden?

And if you think about it for a minute it's a completely barmy attitude for a collective body like a trade union to take - because unions don't behave this way when it comes to strike ballots for example.

In a strike ballot every single trade union member is issued with a ballot paper and is encouraged to support whatever dispute is underway - in practice the members' views count and the union is keen to secure their backing, so they pull out the stops even though the law law lays down certain rules as well. 

Likewise when it comes to the Political Fund and union efforts to encourage their members to support the Labour Party, a topical issue at the moment, but again the unions get in there and get their hands dirty - they don't sit on the sidelines.    

So how is it possible to say, with a straight face at least, that when it comes to equal pay the members are (or were) all on their own?

If you ask me, that sounds terribly odd, inconsistent and unfair.