Monday, 20 March 2017

North Lanarkshire News

A reader from North Lanarkshire has been in touch to ask if ASNAs are caught by the arguments in support of a job evaluation (JE) review for Sheltered Housing Wardens, School Clerical Workers and Classroom Assistants.

Now I'm not familiar with the JE scores and grades of ASNAs in North Lanarkshire, but if these are the same or similar to one of the other three job groups, I have to say I can't see why the same general argument would not apply.

The key thing is for people need to get together, gather information and get themselves organised - because there seems little sign that the Council or the trade unions are going to be of much practical help. 

So if you ask me, a little bit of 'self-help' is the way to get things moving because as I've said on the blog site many times - the fight for equal pay is not a spectator sport.


North Lanarkshire News (15/03/17)

Here's a post from the blog site archive which readers in North Lanarkshire might find interesting because I believe it was around this time that the trade unions in NLC settled the equal pay claims of their former APT&C members on jobs such as Sheltered Housing Wardens, School Clerical Workers and Classroom Assistants.

A4ES continued the fight in a long-running Employment Tribunal in which A4ES clients were represented by the indomitable Daphne Romney QC and North Lanarkshire Council were ultimately forced to revisit the JE scores and grades which resulted in a much improved settlement of their equal pay claims.

If you ask me, the trade unions owe members in these job groups a proper explanation as to why they threw in the towel and failed to follow Action 4 Equality Scotland's lead in the long-running Employment Tribunal case.

Just as they owe their members an explanation as to why these three jobs are not being brought within the scope of the JE review - I'd certainly be happy to come along to a local meeting in NLC to share my thoughts on the subject. 


North Lanarkshire (27/06/13)

A number of readers have been in touch recently to say that the rumour mill in North Lanarkshire is in overdrive - with speculation as to why settlement offers to some trade union claimants have been put on hold - for the moment.

Apparently one of the sillier stories doing the rounds is that Action 4 Equality Scotland is somehow involved in this 'omnishambles' between the council and the trade unions - because we allegedly 'lost' an important case involving Equal Value (or former APT&C) claimants.

But this is completely untrue - utter nonsense and drivel - about as believable as Mark Irvine  being appointed as a new, all-powerful adviser to North Lanarkshire Council on equal pay.

Fun and interesting though that would be - I have to admit.

The real story is - according to my sources - that there is a big problem over the way settlement offers have been calculated by the council and agreed by the trade unions - which sounds a bit crazy, but there you are.

Some trade union claimants have been in touch with Action 4 Equality Scotland - and we have explained (without getting directly involved) how such settlement offers should be calculated.

And I imagine that information has been used to ask some pointed questions of the trade unions and the council - which might explain why such offers were put on hold all of a sudden.

The current position is that A4ES has not been made any reasonable settlement offers by North Lanarkshire Council - which A4ES could recommend clients for accept.

But if and when we do A4ES will ensure that any offers are properly calculated and that the basis of any offer is fully explained - before making any recommendation for clients to accept.

In the meantime A4ES is pressing for all of the outstanding EV (former APT&C) cases to be listed for a full hearing at the Employment Tribunal - in light of recent developments at the UK Supreme Court.

North Lanarkshire News (14/03/17)

More Unison members from North Lanarkshire have been in touch to say that they too have been issued with letters advising them to 'abandon' their equal pay claims voluntarily, otherwise the union will withdraw its support.

Now as I said the other day this sounds very odd to me unless there has been some proper consultation with the members concerned, especially when you read the following extracts from the Unison rule book:


"1 To promote, safeguard an improve the interest and status of members and the Union as a whole.

"2 To promote and establish a member-led union and to carry out and fulfil decisions made by members in a spirit of unity and accountability.


"1 To provide minimum standards of advice, representation and service."

What I can't understand is how a trade union which claims to be 'member-led' can take such a major decision without actively involving the members.

I'll have more to say in the days ahead, but if I were a Classroom Assistant, School Clerical Worker or Sheltered Housing Warden in North Lanarkshire Council I'd be organising an urgent meeting to discuss what's going on.

After all, the members are the union and if you ask me, they have a clear right to be involved in decisions that affect their interests.

North Lanarkshire News (12/03/17)

A reader from North Lanarkshire has been in touch to say that her trade union has threatened to withdraw support for her Equal Pay claim (as a Classroom Assistant) unless she agrees to abandon the claim herself.

Now that strikes me as very odd unless there has been some proper consultation with the member or group of members concerned.

If anyone else in North Lanarkshire has been treated in this way, drop me a note with the details, in confidence, of course:


North Lanarkshire News (09/03/17)

I continue to receive emails from readers on North Lanarkshire asking why their job evaluation (JE) grades and pay have not increased even though they've received an equal pay settlement.

Now I've explained this many times before and here's a post from the blog site archive that sets out the background in some detail.

All I can say is that if I were a School Clerical Worker, a Sheltered Housing Warden or a Classroom Assistant in North Lanarkshire I would be calling for all three of these jobs to be the subject of JE review.

Because in the Employment Tribunal fought by A4ES on behalf of these three groups, NLC was forced to concede that their JE scores and grades (from 2007) were unsatisfactory and that led to a much improved equal pay settlement for School Clerical Workers, Sheltered Housing Wardens and Classroom Assistants - but only for those represented by A4ES.

The trade unions were not part of the long-running A4ES tribunal having settled their claims previously on inferior terms, just as the unions were not part of the fight to have equal pay settlements paid on a pensionable basis.

So if you ask me, it is perfectly possible for North Lanarkshire Council and the trade unions to review these jobs given the developments at the long-running NLC vs A4ES Employment Tribunal. 

No doubt this would be embarrassing for the trade unions (because they threw in the towel early) and the Council would resist spending more money on its JE scheme, but in my view it's the only fair and right thing to do.


North Lanarkshire Update (31/01/17)

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.
As I've said on the blog site previously, while A4ES is not part of the JE review process the right thing for the Council and the trade unions to do would be to extend the scope of the JE review to all School Clerical Workers, Sheltered Housing Wardens and Classroom Assistants.

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?