Friday, 7 July 2017

Questions for Unison

A number of readers have been in touch to say that the local Unison branch in Glasgow City Council is holding a series of equal pay meetings starting next week - week beginning Monday 10 July 2017.

Now the current regional secretary of Unison in Scotland is a chap called Mike Kirby who used to be a 'big cheese' in the local Glasgow branch back in 2005 - when equal pay first became a big issue thanks to Action 4 Equality Scotland, of course.

So I hope Mike will be heading back to his old stomping ground to where some of the bodies are buried, so to speak, and here are a few topical questions Unison members might like to ask of Mike and their local union representatives:
  • Why did Unison agree to the arbitrary cap on equal pay settlements back in 2005 which resulted in very poor offers of compensation - lower even than the £13,500 figure proposed by COSLA (the council employers' body)?
  • Why did Unison agree to exclude groups such as Clerical Officers from the Equal Pay Compensation Scheme?
  • Why did Unison agree to exclude non-bonus earning male workers such as School Janitors and Special Needs Drivers from the Equal Pay Compensation Scheme? 
  • Why did Unison agree to much lower and insulting compensation payments to  groups such as Classroom Assistants?
  • Why did Unison agree to exclude overtime from the Equal Pay Compensation Scheme when so many people, especially the lowest paid, relied on additional overtime hours?
  • Why did Unison not attend the 'acceptance meetings' in November/December 2005 and provide its members with its own legal and other advice on the Council's Equal Pay settlement offers?
  • Why did Unison not threaten strike action to bring the pay of the women into line with their male comparators?
  • Why did Unison only threaten strike action to defend the former bonus earnings of male dominated 'red circled' jobs?
  • Would Unison behave the same way again today the the clocks were turned back and if so, why should union members have any trust in Unison in 2017?
If Mike Kirby and/or the local unison branch would like to debate these issues, I would be delighted to come along to a future Glasgow members meeting.


Glasgow Equal Pay News

I said the other day that I would explain more about the staff groups who were deliberately excluded (by the City Council and local trade unions) from receiving 'Equal Pay - Compensation Payments' back in 2005.

So here you are:
  • Clerical staff in council offices
  • Clerical staff in council schools
  • Male workers in non-bonus earning jobs
  • School Janitors (despite being on high Manual Worker grades)
  • Special Needs Drivers (even though they had to hold special licences)
  • All City Council employees with less than 1 year's service - despite having claims worth up to several thousand pounds (depending on hours worked)
I find it interesting that the trade unions bitterly criticise the government over workers being denied 'employment rights' until they complete a year's service - they (rightly in my view) campaign for employee rights from Day 1.

Yet when it comes to the fight for 'Equal Pay' the local trade unions ganged up with senior management to deny compensation to any council employee with less than 1 year's service.

Amazing - and completely hypocritical into the bargain!

Not just that, of course, because the unions agreed with the decision to exclude Admin & Clerical staff from compensation payments and then wrongly advised hundreds of non-bonus earning male workers, e.g. Janitors and Special Needs Drivers, that Equal Pay was only for women!

No wonder 80% of equal pay claimants in Glasgow City Council are pursuing their cases with Action 4 Equality Scotland.


Glasgow Equal Pay News (19/06/17)

Here is some more information about the 'Equal Pay - Compensation Payments' agreed between Glasgow City Council and the local trade unions back in 2005.

As regular readers know, these payments were highly controversial in a variety of ways:
  • Payments were capped in a completely arbitrary fashion, without a proper explanation, and a maximum ceiling of  £9,000 imposed
  • Pupil Support Assistants, Child Development Officers and others received widely varying, often derisory payments - again without a full explanation of the differences in pay with male comparator jobs
  • People were credited with contracted hours only - no credit whatsoever was given for overtime working which was very prevalent (and still is) in some parts of the Council
  • Many groups were deliberately excluded  for these payments despite having perfectly valid claims - more to follow on this issue shortly 
Under the 'Questions and Answers' section the document says "Staff can also contact their Trade Union to ask for further guidance" reinforcing the message that this whole business was carefully worked out and agreed with the local unions.

More to follow on the 'excluded groups' - so watch this space.


Glasgow Equal Pay News (17/06/17)

I promised the other day to share information on the blog site about the 'Equal Pay Compensation Payments' agreed between Glasgow City Council and the local trade unions back in 2005.

So here's an extract from an official document that the City Council published at the time which confirms that senior management and the unions really were working 'hand in glove'.

"Equal Pay - Compensation Payments"

"What is Glasgow City Council doing about Equal Pay?

"The Council, in partnership with the Trade Unions, has begun the process of tackling financial inequality in the workplace through the offer of compensation payments.

"All staff who are being offered a compensation payment are being provided with information about what the Council and Trade Unions have negotiated.

"Remember: Both the Council and Trade Unions are working jointly." 

Over the next week or so I'll share further extracts from this document which will explain how the council's lowest paid workers were effectively 'duped' into accepting very low offers of settlement - when what they really deserved was equal pay with their male comparators. 

As I said the other day, I am happy to discuss and debate these issues with the local trade unions in Glasgow.