Showing posts from February, 2007

Scottish Elections

A lot of interest has been shown in the earlier posting about the forthcoming Scottish elections -for MSPs and local councillors - which take place on the same day this year, May 3rd 2007. A typical query has been: "How do I raise these issues with my own MSP or local councillor?" Well, that's very easy to answer. MSPs and local councillors both hold regular surgeries - often on the same day of the month - where local constituents can go along and raise issues, in person, at a private meeting. MSPs and councillors are normally happy to meet with people in small groups and this would be an ideal way of getting across the message on equal pay - a list of useful questions has already been posted on this site. Not surprisingly, in the run-up to the elections, politicians are much more interested in what people have to say - after all they're desperate for your votes. And, of course, the press and media are more likely to report what's being said - by the polit

Scottish Parliament and equal pay

In an earlier posting we promised to share details of the politicians who had a major responsibility on equal pay since 1999 and who will be standing for election to the Scottish Parliament May 2007 - they deserve to be asked some tough questions. Charlie Gordon Labour party candidate for the seat of Glasgow Cathcart Former leader of Glasgow City Council - Scotland's largest council - and a member of the GMB union. The GMB ( along with other unions) has kept their members in the dark about their rights to equal pay for years - deliberately hiding the huge pay gap between male and female workers - rates of pay which the unions know about because they negotiated these rates with the employers. Donald Anderson Labour party candidate for the seat of Edinburgh South Former leader of Edinburgh City Council - union membership or affiliation unknown. Donald has taken a keen interest the employment practices of other employers - for example, by castigating the Scottish Executive for

North Lanarkshire Council

All of Scotland's 32 local councils have behaved appallingly over equal pay, but undoubtedly the Dunce's Cap should be awarded jointly to the management and trade unions in North Lanarkshire Council. First of all, the council agreed a Job Evaluation scheme with the trade unions, but then they both refused to share the details with the workforce. So, exactly how were staff expected to have any confidence in the outcome, especially if they could not see or understand the scores and how the new grading structure rewarded different groups of workers? Maybe they were supposed to to take it on trust from the same people who had kept them in the dark for all those years. Then the council put the scheme to the workforce in a democratic ballot - a wizard idea supported by the best brains amongst the unions. However, things did not go according to plan and to the enormous shock of the council and the unions, the ordinary union members very sensibly voted the package down - and by a

A Case Study

Home Care Coordinators play a vital role in delivering essential support services to thousands of elderly and vulnerable clients in Glasgow. The job was created several years ago to support the role of the Home Carer. Coordinators have all the necessary hands on skills, but also supervise groups of Home Carers and provide much needed practical help in resolving many of the 101 things that can go wrong in the course of a normal working day. For taking on these additional responsibilities Home Care Coordinators were paid the princely sum of £1 an hour extra on top of the rate paid to Home Carers - and both were hugely underpaid in comparison to many unskilled male workers in Glasgow earning more than £10 per hour - while the Home Carers and Coordinators hourly rates were nearer £6 and £7 respectively. No one pointed out this blatant and completely unjustified discrimination out to the women workers, of course. Not the Labour council - and not the GMB union which negotiated these ra

Councillors salaries and 'golden goodbyes'

The press and media have been awash with comment this week about our elected local councillors receiving big pay increases this year, while others are to receive 'Golden Goodbyes' for agreeing not to stand in the next council elections due on May 3rd 2007. A new scheme will pay existing councillors, who agree to step down, up to £20,000 (tax free) - the payment is intended as compensation for all the years that these councillors worked without proper salaries or access to pension benefits. The cost of the severance package in Glasgow alone has been estimated at £420,000 From May 3rd 2007 onwards all of the remaining or new local councillors will benefit substantially from the introduction of a new basic salary of £15,452 a year, rising to £46,357 a year for the leaders of the largest councils - in the fair cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Now there are different views on how generous or otherwise these new arrangements really are. Some commentators say they don't go

Holding our politcians to account

Equal pay is one of the biggest issues to hit Scotland's public services in recent years - yet our elected councillors and MSPs have been a quiet as church mice. Why? Because many of them were in very senior and influential positions years ago when Scotland's councils, for example, promised to eradicate pay discrimination back in 1999. But the employers and the trade unions simply sat back and did nothing until Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross came along. So, the politicians prefer to turn a blind eye to the widespread pay discrimination that still exists in Scotland's councils and the NHS - and in any event they can always blame someone else for the failure to put things right. Whatever this is it's not leadership - and the truth is that Scotland's public service workers deserve a great deal better. On almost any other issue, the politicians would be asking pointed questions and demanding straight answers. Why did the employers and the unions sit on their

Appeals - union advice and support

Lots of people have been on touch to say that some local union reps are not being very helpful when it comes to Job Evaluation appeals - see previous posting dated 29 January 2007. The plain truth is that the trade unions are going to be in a lot of trouble if they take money from their members in union contributions, but then fail to provide the service and support that members are entitled to expect. The trade unions are annoyed that so many of their members have taken up claims with Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross, but that is not a valid reason for refusing to provide individual members with advice and representation, if requested, especially at the workplace. A local Job Evaluation grading appeal is an internal matter to the council and very often the trade unions are the only bodies recognised by the council employers for dealing with such matters. So the trade unions owe a duty of care to their members, which they cannot ignore just because some of the officials are in

New council 'buy-out' offers

Some councils - North Ayrshire, for example - are making new 'buy-out' offers to staff in a desperate attempt to stop people from submitting fresh equal pay claims. These new 'buy-out' offers follow exactly the same pattern as before - they are not delivering equal pay, but are based on a one-off payment and still leaves the women workers with a lower rate of pay than the men - whose earnings are protected for years to come. The council are simply cheating people - and paying much less than their claims are really worth. How much depends on individual circumstances and the council involved, but in some cases the amount on offer represents less than 20% of the true value of people's claims - since the councils make a great saving by leaving out overtime and pension payments. The reason for this latest panic is that the Compromise Agreements (COT3) which people were forced to sign in the first round of 'buy-out' payments were only valid for a fixed per

NHS - latest news

A Case Management hearing for the NHS Equal Pay claims is due to be held on 1 March 2007, but don't expect fireworks from day one - this is really just the start of the formal process for NHS cases in Scotland. A Case Management hearing should set out a timetable for dealing with the NHS cases and involves the appointment of an independent expert to consider the equal value side of the claim, i.e. whether a fully trained, highly qualified nurse is doing a job of equal value to a hospital tradesman or technician. See the detailed posting on Agenda for Change In other walks of life, this is a 'no brainer' question - but even though the answer is perfectly obvious to anyone with any common sense it is an essential part of the employment tribunal process, which all claims must go through to be successful. So, while this will take some time to complete, the good news is that you add the time on to your claim going forward. For example, if it takes a person with a five year

NHS - Agenda for Change

Scotland's spending on the NHS has doubled in the past 10 years - but the big winners have been the medical staff (especially consultants and GP's) because the pay gap with nurses and other health professionals is greater than ever! The truth is that the NHS has been discriminating against its female staff for decades. This equal pay gap has been widely known (to the employers and trade unions) since 1997 when the first large scale claims were made in Cumbria. The Cumbria claims established that nursing assistants were doing jobs of equal value to male maintenance workers, but the men were getting paid £4,000 more than the (largely female) nurses. Similarly, highly qualified nurses were earning less than the male electronics technicians - and medical secretaries less then male painters and joiners. In 2005, the NHS agreed to compensate some of the Cumbria staff with some nurses being paid over £100,000 in back pay. Despite knowing that these cases were likely to succeed,