Monday, 30 January 2017

Fife Council Update

Image result for fife council HQ + images

Action 4 Equality Scotland reached an equal pay settlement with Fife Council a year or so ago, but for some reason the Council is still dragging its feet over settlements being paid on a pensionable basis which has significant benefits for some although not all claimants.

Now this issue was the subject of a major dispute between A4ES and North Lanarkshire Council with Scottish Ministers eventually coming down on the side of the claimants.

The trade unions were not part of this dispute, of course, having previously advised their members that equal pay settlements could not be made on a pensionable basis.

Completely nonsense as it turned out, but A4ES and our lawyers HBJ Gateley are still in the process of resolving this issue for clients in Fife.

As ever, this fight is not just a spectator sport and individual claimants can also pile the pressure on Fife by raising the issue with their local MSPs and MPs whose contact details are easily available via the internet.

I'll re-publish some of the posts from the blog site archive which explain the pensions fight in North Lanarkshire where, yet again, low paid workers had to fight a big Labour Council tooth and nail to achieve the same pension rights as their male colleagues.  


Fife Council Update (12/05/16)

Image result for fife council HQ + images

I hear that A4ES clients in Fife Council are experiencing the same problems as their colleagues in North Lanarkshire where the Labour-run administration is preventing employees from having their equal pay settlements paid on a pensionable basis.

Now this is a ridiculous state of affairs if you ask me, because these settlements are classed as 'arrears of pay' which go back years and so there is no reason for refusing to count these payments for pension purposes.

So if Fife Council does not reconsider its position very quickly, there will be no option but to fire up the A4ES campaign machine and bring this whole nasty business to public attention. 

Because I can't see how the politicians in Labour-run Fife can defend a situation where low paid women workers are treated less favourably than their male colleagues when it comes to pensions.

Fife Council Update (15/09/15)

Image result for fife council HQ + images

I was amazed to learn the other day that the recently retired Unison branch secretary in Fife, Linda Erskine, quickly re-emerged as a local Labour councillor just weeks after giving up her trade union role.   

Now it's not completely unheard of for people to 'cross the floor' and take on a role which means they are representing the interests of the council employer, rather than the interests of the council workforce.

But it is unusual, not least because the trade unions have a highly controversial track record over the fight for equal pay in Scotland and in different parts of the country over the past 15 years the unions are responsible for:
  • keeping their women members firmly in the dark about the huge differences in pay between traditional male and female jobs
  • panicking when Action 4 Equality Scotland arrived on the scene in 2005 and finally let the equal pay 'cat' out of the bag
  • allowing and often encouraging their lowest paid women members to accept poor (1st wave) settlement offers from council employers
  • helping the council employers put in place new pay arrangements which did not defend the interests of the workforce and female dominated jobs, in particular     
Now I'm sure that Linda Erskine has been on the scene since the early 1990s, as first of all a local NUPE official and then Unison branch official in Fife, which means she was employed by the Council for all of that time.  

I understand that Linda retired in March 2012 only to reappear as a Labour councillor in May 2012 and now acts as a spokesperson on HR (Human Resources) issues of all things.

I wonder if Linda will be called to give evidence at the forthcoming Employment Tribunal hearings against Fife Council and if so, in what capacity - as a former representative of the workforce or as a spokesperson for Fife Council as an employer? 

I'd pay money to see that, as they say.

Councillor Linda Erskine

Cllr. Linda Erskine

(Spokesperson for HR)

Fife Council Update (28/10/15)

Image result for fife council HQ + images

The news media today is catching up with the report I posted on the blog site back on 6 October 2015 about the equal pay settlement reached with Labour-run Fife Council.

The unions in Fife are trying to claim credit for the Council's decision to settle after all this time, but they have a real brass neck because the unions have ridden on the coattails off Action 4 Equality Scotland all the way.

In fact, if truth be told the unions should be hanging their heads in shame because the 'new' pay arrangements which caused all the problems were negotiated and agreed between Fife Council management and the unions back in 2006/07.

So, just as has happened in other council areas like North and South Lanarkshire, the trade unions have Action 4 Equality Scotland to thank for digging the workforce out of another terrible equal pay mess that the unions helped to create in the first place.

Fife Council Update (06/10/15)

Image result for fife council HQ + images

Great news for all Action 4 Equality Scotland clients in Fife - the tribunal hearing against Fife Council which was scheduled to start today in Dundee has been 'sisted' or postponed until 28 February 2016.

Because after a series of last minute negotiations, A4ES has managed to reach a settlement agreement with Fife Council and a detailed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has now been signed between the parties.

Settlement offers from Fife Council will be issued in due course, but this is a big administrative task and will take perhaps four weeks to organise - no letters will be issued by A4ES until this task has been completed.

Once settlement offers have been received and checked detailed letters will be sent out to all individual A4ES clients in Fife.

In the meantime, please don't flood A4ES with email and phone enquiries as this just slows down the whole business of getting further information out to clients in Fife - any further news regarding the timetable will be reported on the blog site.

A big thanks goes to the 'usual suspects' from the A4ES negotiating team who were involved in the last ditch settlement talks including Stefan Cross QC and Karl Bromley. 

A special mention also goes to Sarah Gilzean from HBJ Gateley who stepped in at short notice (as regular readers know) and did a splendid, professional job by all accounts, in relation to both the MoU with Fife Council and the preparatory work for the Employment Tribunal.

And to Daphne Romney QC, of course, whose work behind the scenes seems to have convinced Fife Council that they were on a hiding to nothing if the tribunal hearing went ahead as originally planned.