Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Why Choose A4ES?

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?'.

FAQs, Glasgow and Equal Pay (05/06/17)

Not everyone is familiar with all of the arguments surrounding equal pay, so I thought I'd post a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

So if you have a question, drop me a note and I'll do my best to answer it on the blog site.

What is equal pay?

If a woman is in an equivalent job to a man because they are rated (graded) the same or have jobs of equal value, then she is entitled to exactly the same terms and conditions as that man - and this is done contract term by contract term, individually,
 not by aggregating at all terms together. 

A classic example is in the NHS where an electrician had a lower hourly rate of pay than a nurse, but the electrician got time and a half for overtime - whereas the nurse was paid only time and a third. 

But equal pay legislation meant the electrician was able to claim the same hourly rate as the nurse, and the nurse was entitled to the same overtime rate as the electrician.

Similarly, in Glasgow Home Carers were on the same pay grade as Refuse Drivers, but the drivers were paid big bonuses - 50% and more on top of their basic pay.

A4ES challenged these pay arrangements back in 2005 and as a result the Home Carers were able to claim compensation for not having received the big bonuses paid to their male 'comparators'.

After the WPBR was introduced in 206/07, the men had their big bonuses protected but the women got nothing. 

The unions, of course threatened to go on strike to maintain the pay of 'red circled' jobs having turned a blind eye to the huge inequalities in pay that had existed for years.

The Court of Session has now agreed that this was wrong and compensatory payments will now be calculated and discussed with Glasgow City Council. 

A4ES is also challenging other aspects of Glasgow' City Council's WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review) including: WCD (Working Context and Demands), NSWP (Non Standard Working Pattern (NSWP), EDC (Employee Development Commitment) and its grading and assimilation arrangements.

One big potential issue in Glasgow is the hourly rate used to calculate overtime - employees who work more than 35 hours per week may have a very significant claim.

By the way, who thinks that I should send a copy of this post to Unison's Mike Kirby, the union's regional secretary, formerly a 'big cheese' in the Glasgow Unison branch?