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Showing posts from April, 2007

Who's in charge - union members or union bureaucracy?

Unison is the largest and, arguably, most powerful trade union operating in the NHS - well resourced, well informed and politically connected, especially to Scotland's Labour establishment of senior councillors, Holyrood MSPs and Westminster MPs. Yet Unison, along with the other NHS trade unions, is managing to dig a very deep hole for itself over Agenda for Change (see earlier posts of 10 February and 26 April). Why? Because the principles of Agenda for Change are sound - they are intended to reward people for the day-to-day the skills they use in carrying out their jobs. But the implementation of this new grading structure is being badly mishandled at local level - largely due to a lack of professional advice and support to nurses and other NHS employees. The fact is that Unison and their union colleagues are jointly responsible for implementing Agenda for Change in local hospital and community settings - decisions are being made jointly with NHS managers about job profile

Falkirk Council - STOP PRESS

The Employment Tribunal dates for Falkirk Council - scheduled for this week and next - have had to be postponed we're sorry to say. The reason being that the council failed to provide essential information about its Job Evaluation scheme in time for the original hearing - so there was no point in proceeding on those previously agreed dates. The good news is that the information requested from the council has finally arrived - this is currently being assessed and will be considered at a new case management hearing which has now been arranged for 22 May. A new Falkirk Council will be elected on 3rd May - its leadership and make up is anyone's guess at this stage - but whoever is in charge, the council will have to take a long hard look at the mess they've made of equal pay. The reality is that recent developments in Glasgow will put pressure on Falkirk - and all the other councils in Scotland - to consider how wise it is to proceed all the way through the Employment T

NHS - Conflicts and Change

Conflicts of interest are an everyday part of life - nothing to get too worked up about - provided you handle them openly and honestly. Agenda for Change is a good example - the trade unions have a very real conflict of interest - because they're busily agreeing to new bandings and new grades with local NHS managers - but of course the ordinary union member hasn't got the foggiest clue about what's going on - everything is happening over their heads. Agenda for Change is implemented locally against a nationally agreed framework - but the local unions reps and managers making these decisions are also required to: record all their decisions clearly ensure that that their decisions are fair, objective and consistently applied be properly trained and competent in the Job Evaluation techniques that underpin Agenda for Change provide the information that their members need to understand and make sense of Agenda for Change, both in terms of their own jobs and - just as impor

Edinburgh City Council

Edinburgh City Council is now firmly in the spotlight following Glasgow's decision to reach an 'out of court' settlement of their equal pay claims. Scotland's capital city and second largest council is now between a rock and a hard place - with Edinburgh very much on the back foot, as the old east west rivalry comes into play. Why? Because the legal arguments about equal pay are exactly the same at both ends of the M8 - there's nowhere for Edinburgh council to hide, which its highly paid, senior officials know only too well. Some enterprising Action 4 Equality clients have already been in touch with the former leader of the council - Donald Anderson - to ask why he failed to implement the equal pay (single status)agreement back in 1999, as the employers promised. What they got was the usual politician's answer. Because although Donald Anderson has stepped down as council leader, he is still fighting the Edinburgh South seat as a potential Labour MSP. The tr

Odd Allies and Strange Bedfellows

North Lanarkshire won't win any prizes for the council's handling of equal pay, but it has thrown up some odd allies and strange bedfellows. Take Jim McCabe , leader of the outgoing council. Now Jim is a decent enough fellow, not a political heavyweight, but an experienced Labour party man and a former Nupe (now Unison) shop steward. So, he understands all the issues when it comes to equal pay - or ought to at least. Yet, Jim's greatest claim to fame is not fighting against discrimination or low pay. Oh no, he is best known locally for dropping his pants at the office Christmas party - much to the embarrassment of fellow guests.Jim followed up this PR disaster with another - by puffing away in his office during an interview with a journalist. Effectively, thumbing his nose at the council's strict no smoking policy and the Scottish Parliament's smoking ban. Guess what made the headlines! Jim is also leader of the CoSLA Labour group - CoSLA being the umbrella b

EQUAL PAY - GLASGOW LEADS THE WAY

Glasgow's decision to reach a settlement on equal pay has put all the other councils in Scotland on the spot. Action 4 Equality's message for those councils still dragging their feet is: "If Glasgow can do it, so can you. So, let's stop shilly shallying about - the legal arguments are the same across the length and breadth of the country - they are not unique to Scotland's largest council." Glasgow has done the only sensible thing because the writing was on the wall, if their cases went all the way through the Employment Tribunal process. In effect, Glasgow realised the game was up. So, they decided to bite the bullet and cut their losses. Glasgow's decision has also shown up the trade unions in their true colours - not as champions of equal pay, but as organisations with too many vested interests and out of touch with their own members. Action 4 Equality highlighted and explained the big pay differences between male and female council workers - not th

GLASGOW BITES BULLET ON EQUAL PAY

The breakthrough moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived - Glasgow City Council, Scotland's largest council, has decided to bite the bullet on equal pay. Great news for our clients in Glasgow and a huge boost to Action 4 Equality's ongoing campaign. Details of the proposed settlement have been sent to all Glasgow clients, but we have been inundated with enquiries - so here are the key points: Individual offers of settlement will be made to Glasgow clients in mid May - these will be NET amounts - i.e. after deduction of tax and National Insurance contributions Payment will be made within 10 days of return - but in any event by no later than 30 June 2007 The offer will vary according to individual circumstances - hours worked, length of service etc. Clients will receive up to 90% of the real value of their claims - a big improvement on the council's original offer The proposed agreement will settle claims only up to 31 March 2006 The proposed settlement

North Ayrshire Council - Another Fine Mess

North Ayrshire is the latest council to shoot itself in the foot, as yet another workforce ballot on equal pay delivers the 'wrong result'. Council employees in North Ayrshire have decisively rejected new pay and grading structures - proposed by the management and supported by the trade unions. Sound familiar? Having spent years contemplating their navels and getting nowhere fast, council officials (and the unions) belatedly sprang into action. But, of course, only after Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross arrived on the scene - and let the cat out the bag by telling the women how much they were being underpaid compared to the men. The laugh is that these same (highly paid) council officials and unions leaders - who had kept the women in the dark all these years - now claimed they would put things right. However, things didn't quite go to plan. Instead of a vote of confidence in the new pay structures - the workforce spoke loudly and clearly - and effectively told

Fife Council - bully boys beware!

Fife Council tried to introduce a new (Single Status) pay and grading structure at the end of 2006 - but the proposed new package was rejected by the workforce following a secret ballot - much to the surprise and annoyance of local management and the trade unions - who had both been urging support. Undaunted, local management are now ignoring the result of the ballot - having originally agreed one was essential for staff confidence in the first place - while the tame local trade union officials deliberately look the other way. An important safeguard was put in place allowing staff to appeal against their new grades - if they were unhappy with the outcome. But the supposed safety net has been shown to be a complete joke with the release of a letter from the council dated 27 March 2007 which states: "No information regarding any job other than your own will be provided." Effectively, this means that anyone wishing to pursue an appeal about their grade and job evaluatio

South Lanarkshire Council

A number of South Lanarkshire clients have been in touch to ask if the council really is part of Scottish local government, or does it operate instead in some kind of strange, parallel council universe? Surprisingly, the answer to both questions is: Yes! South Lanarkshire is our 5th largest council, Labour dominated as most of the big councils are, but with nothing much to suggest that South Lanarkshire is so completely different - unique even - when compared to the rest of Scotland's 28 mainland and 3 island councils. The first leader of the new council (created in 1996) was no less a figure than Tom McCabe - now finance and local government minister for the Scottish Executive. The current leader is Eddie McAvoy, brother of the local Westminster MP, Tommy McAvoy. Eddie is a very traditional, some would say old-fashioned local politician with a strong background in the (male dominated) engineering union. Eddie has no great claim to fame other than installing a bust of himse