I've had a number of queries from readers in North Lanarkshire regarding the job evaluation (JE) review which can be summarised as follows:
1 Why have the JE grades of school clerical workers not gone up since the equal pay settlement in 2015?
2 The advice from our union is that we have to start all over again on an individual basis
3 The union says things are complicated and that we members don't understand the details of the equal pay settlement?
Well I don't think things are complicated at all and here's an explanation that should help people see the wood through the trees.
- The original equal pay settlement with North Lanarkshire Council covered the period up to 31 March 2015.
- The scores and grades awarded to three female dominated jobs (Home Support Worker, Playground Supervisor and School Crossing Patroller) were heavily criticised at the long-running Glasgow Employment Tribunal - as a result these three jobs were subject to a further JE review along with a number of male comparator jobs.
- 1st Wave School Clerical Workers (SCW) represented by A4ES were not included in this settlement - nor were Sheltered Housing Warden (SHW) or Classroom Assistant (CA) represented by A4ES - because these former APT&C posts had not received an equal pay settlement first time around.
- The reason for this is that A4ES was still disputing the JE scores and grades of these three job (SCW, SHW, CA) categories at the long-running case Employment Tribunal case in Glasgow.
- The trade unions in North Lanarkshire had previously settled their claims on behalf of these three groups.
- As a result the trade unions were not supporting A4ES in its argument that the JE scores and grades of SCW, SHW and CA were far too low.
- In 2016 A4ES finally won the argument at the Employment Tribunal and the council was forced to concede that the scores and grades should be amended for the purpose of calculating much improved settlement offers.
- The new settlements affected only A4ES clients and only went up to the date of the Employment Tribunal judgement.
- The settlements reached previously by the trade unions were much poorer than those achieved by A4ES.
- In one case an A4ES client achieved a settlement of £19,000 having previously been offered a settlement of £2,000 via her trade union (although the £19K was subject to further tax and NI deductions).
- The settlements A4ES achieved for employees in these job groups varied depending on people's individual circumstances, but the highest settlements were between £30,000 - £50,000 which speaks for itself.
- Action 4 Equality Scotland also won a huge victory over the right of claimants to have their settlements paid on a pensionable basis. The trade unions were not part of this pensions dispute and had previously advised members that equal pay settlements could not be made pensionable.
- Presumably the trade unions are none too keen on their members understanding that A4ES achieved these far better results which may explain why they would now like to sweep the whole business under the carpet.
The evidence is all there from the Glasgow Employment Tribunal and this could easily be used by the Council and the trade unions to give these jobs a further examination and fairer deal - even though the trade unions would be left looking rather foolish.
In other words it is not really complicated at all and if you ask me, it's ludicrous to expect individual members of staff to do this on their own - that's what trade unions are for, or at least it was in my time.
After all, why have a dog and bark yourself?