Wednesday, 1 March 2017

North Lanarkshire News

A quick reminder from the blog site archive about the long fight for equal pay in Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council. 

And though I say so myself, the bulk of what I had to say about NLC's JE scheme and pay arrangements in 2007 came back to haunt the Council in 2014/15. 


Nostradamus in NLC(26/03/14)

Here are three posts from the blog site archive about pay and grading of different jobs in North Lanarkshire Council.

Now if I could spot that there was something decidedly odd about North Lanarkshire's pay arrangements all those years ago, then why couldn't some of the senior figures within the Council have come to that conclusion as well?

From what I heard in the recent Employment Tribunal hearing (which is still ongoing), many of the traditional male jobs had their high bonus earnings taken into account when they were assimilated onto the new NLC pay structures and if that proves to be  the case, then it would explain why many female dominated jobs ended up being paid so much less.  

If you ask me, North Lanarkshire Council should be ashamed of itself. 

Job Evaluation 3 (10 December 2007)

As well as manipulating job evaluation results at the lower end of the scale, North Lanarkshire's scheme does exactly the same as it moves up through the new pay and grading structure.

Take grade NLC 6. Now this is not a very high grade - nor does it pay a king's ransom - but it does epitomise how male and female jobs have been treated so very differently - under a scheme that was intended to improve the position of many women's jobs - which had been undervalued for years.

Some Traditional Male Jobs on NLC 6
Cleansing Chargehand
Estates Maintenance Worker 4
Gardener 3
Gravedigger 3
Chargehand Estate Worker
Driver 2 (Refuse Driver)

Now all of these people carry out vital and important jobs - and no one is demeaning the work they do - the real issue is why are they treated so differently?

Because if the truth be told - all of these jobs are old-fashioned manual worker jobs that have existed for years - jobs that were graded at no more than Manual Worker 4 under the old grading structure - jobs that were on a lower grade than a Home Carer, Cook or even a School Janitor.

Yet, there are female dominated jobs by the barrow load - which require much more in terms of skill, responsibility or qualifications than the male jobs - but the women's jobs have just been stuck on the same grade (NLC 6) or, in many cases, even lower grades. Here are some examples:

Female Dominated Jobs on NLC 6
Catering Manager
Social Care Worker
Admin/Finance Assistant

How can these jobs possibly be regarded as doing work of the same value as a Refuse Driver or Gravedigger?

Female Dominated Jobs on NLC 5
Senior Clerk
Library Resource Centre Supervisor
Senior Creche Worker
Project Administrator

How can these jobs possibly be regarded as doing work of less value than a Refuse Driver or Gravedigger?

Female Jobs on NLC 4
Classroom Assistant
Community Warden
Care Support Worker
Bus Escort
Word Processing Supervisor
SEN Assistant

How can these jobs possibly be regarded as doing work of less value than a Refuse Driver or Gravedigger? 

So, the upshot is that North Lanarkshire is getting away with murder - its job evaluation scheme is shot full of holes and contradictions - and women workers are still treated less favourably than the men.

Job Evaluation 2 (10 December 2007)

Even more mysterious than the Cleaners' grading (see post dated 6 December) - is the way in which many other female dominated jobs have fared under North Lanarkshire's Job Evaluation Scheme (JES).

Take a Refuse Collector - another important, but essentially unskilled job that require virtually no training and carries little responsibility - and of course it's done overwhelmingly by men whose bonus payments are being protected by the council for years into the future.

Before the JES - Refuse Collectors were on a relatively low grade of Manual Worker (MW) 2 - much lower than a Home Help, for example, whose job was graded at MW 5.

But after the JES - Refuse Collectors have been placed on NLC 3 under the new pay and grading system - putting them on a par with a huge number of female dominated jobs - jobs that clearly require much greater levels of skill and responsibility.

What are these jobs? 

Home Support Worker, Catering Assistant, Clerical Assistant, Creche Worker and Warden - to name just some of the female dominated jobs that are now deemed to be equivalent to an unskilled male post.

Anyone who knows anything about the refuse collection service - knows that the job has changed dramatically over the years. What might once have been regarded as a heavy manual job - has been made much easier by the introduction of wheelie bins - not just in Lanarkshire, but throughout Scotland.

But the exact opposite is true of many of the female dominated jobs - far from getting easier or less demanding - they've had all kinds of extra duties and responsibilities added - and often for no additional pay or reward.

Just think how much the job of a Home Carer has changed in the last 10 years - as community care has been introduced - the level of care and support provided by Home Carers has increased enormously - to keep vulnerable people living independently in their own homes.

But in North Lanarkshire many of these vital female dominated jobs have been placed on a par with refuse collection - when it's as plain as can be face that they are worth much more.

Yet again - North Lanarkshire's JES comes up trumps for the male dominated jobs - destroying any claim that the scheme is remotely fair or even-handed.

More to follow - Job Evaluation 3 coming soon!

Job Evaluation 1 (6 December 2007)

Hands up! 

How many employees of North Lanarkshire Council believe that their new Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) has been applied fairly, consistently and in a manner that rewards people properly for the jobs they do?

Well, very few it seems if our feedback is anything to go by - probably just the senior managers whose jobs were conveniently left outside the scope of the JES - and of course the local union reps who negotiated and urged members to accept the scheme when it was first proposed. 

Take the lowest grade in the new pay structure - NLC 1 - as it has been imaginatively called.

By a truly amazing coincidence this grade has been solely and exclusively reserved for the job of Cleaner - needless to say a job done overwhelmingly by low paid women workers.

Now a Cleaner does a very important job - as do many other council employees - including Road Sweepers which, as everyone knows, is a traditional male and bonus earning job.

Before North Lanarkshire's allegedly fairer JES - Cleaners and Road Sweepers were on exactly the same grade - Manual Worker (MW) 1 in old money.

But after the JES (for reasons no one can explain) - the male Road Sweepers have been awarded the higher grade of NLC 2 - while all the women Cleaners have ended up at the bottom of the heap on NLC 1.

Something smells very fishy here - how can that possibly happen - without a good old fashioned bit of jiggery pokery?

Because the job of a Cleaner is hard, heavy work - no less arduous certainly than a Road Sweeper - and arguably the Cleaner carries more responsibility for ensuring high standards in important public areas - school toilets, for example.

So, how can Cleaners possibly end up on the lowest grade - with no male group to keep them company? The answer is that the council has engineered the results to keep the costs of equal pay down. 

But it was never intended to work that way - Single Status was supposed to be fairer to many of the female dominated jobs which had been undervalued and underpaid for years.

What should people do? They should appeal their grades - demand to see the detailed scores of other male jobs - and register an equal pay claim, if they've not already done so.

If the unions had any guts, they'd be lodging mass appeals on behalf of all North Lanarkshire Cleaners - but the unions are really part of the problem, as many ordinary members now realise. 

More to follow - Job Evaluation 2 coming soon!