Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Glasgow Equal Pay News

A kind reader from sent me a copy of a letter circulated to GMB members in Glasgow City Council regarding the long-running fight for equal pay.

Here's what the letter says - Gary Smith, by the way, is the GMB regional secretary in Scotland.

Dear Colleague,

I am just writing to you to assure you that our Solicitors Thompsons are pursuing a claim relating to Equal Pay/Pay Protection on your behalf.  As a member of GMB Scotland you do not pay any legal fees and neither the Union or Thompsons will take any of the money you receive, this is unlike those who are with private Solicitors.

It will take time to sort out payments that are due to individuals.  It is a huge undertaking and is likely to take many months.

There is another legal appeal over the Job Evaluation Scheme that we want to hear about.

Depending on the result of that appeal we may have to take action, but at this stage you do not have to do anything.

GMB Scotland and Thompsons as our Lawyers will keep you advised of progress.

Yours sincerely,

Gary Smith

Now what I find odd about this letter is the claim that GMB members do not pay legal fees because they obviously do, in the sense that most union members in Glasgow have been paying their union contributions (fees) for years. 

And the GMB's legal service is, of course, paid out of these union membership contributions which must run to millions of pounds in Glasgow over the past 12 years or so. 

Yet still the GMB decided to restricted its members equal pay claims in Glasgow to only 3 years, as the union did in North Lanarkshire for example, instead of following Action 4 Equality Scotland's lead by challenging the Council's JE scheme and WPBR pay arrangements. 

Now the GMB has known about this situation for a very long time, yet Gary Smith says "we want to hear about" the JES and WPBR challenge.

"We may have to take action," says Gary without explaining why or what any further  action might involve after all this time.

A4ES does charge its clients a success fee of 10% plus VAT (12%) so claimants keep the lion's share of their settlement and there are no 'up front' charges - unlike the trade unions.

But the reason for charging a 'success fee' is that A4ES provides a very professional, reliable service and doesn't get into the kind of mess the GMB has created for union members in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.


Why Choose A4ES? (13/06/17)

Here's another in my series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council.

Why pursue a claim with A4ES?

Put simply it is because we have a track record of getting our clients much more than the trade unions have achieved for their members. 

Remember in Glasgow when we started the claims in August 2005 the unions immediately agreed a compensation scheme with the council which meant that the women received only about 25% of the value of their claims 

Whereas A4ES clients who didn't accept the Council's original offer (in the run-up to Christmas 2005) almost always ended up with considerably better settlements. 

The same thing happened in many other councils including North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire where our non-manual clients often received five times the amount that the local trade unions agreed to settle for. 

The unions say that they provide a free legal service, but members are obviously paying for this service through their union dues, but arguably without very much to show in return as far as equal pay is concerned.

See the example below from South Lanarkshire Council where the local trade unions actively discouraged their own members from pursuing equal pay claims against the Labour-run council.

Yet during the long fight for equal pay the trade unions have collected millions of pounds from their low paid women members in union subscriptions while failing to defend their interests properly

The more clients who join up with A4ES the greater the leverage we have with the unions and the council to ensure that a fair deal is reached.


Can I Have My Money Back?
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?'.