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Showing posts from June, 2007

Game, set and match!

As this year's Wimbledon tennis championship gets underway, we can all celebrate another victory on equal pay. For the first time in its history, men and women tennis players at Wimbledon will receive the same prize money - no ifs, buts or maybes - women are no longer second class citizens. Hip. hip, hooray! So, we should all take our hats off to the old buffers and duffers that run the All England Tennis Club - because they've achieved equal pay more quickly than many other organisations that claim to be leading experts in the field. Take the trade unions and many of the council employers - they are fond of wearing their political hearts on their sleeves - they swear blind they are equal opportunity organisations - yet for years and years they have failed to live up to this star billing. National equal pay agreements have been signed amidst great publicity and fanfare - only to be completely ignored by both the employers and trade unions once the dust had settled.

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

In recent days, there have been lots of enquiries from clients asking how they can get directly involved in the equal pay campaign. If you want to do so, the answer is very simple - go and see your local councillor, MSP or even your Westminster MP - get a few friends or co-workers together and tell them exactly what you think! Equal pay has already come back to haunt the careers of a few well-known politicians: Donald Anderson (former leader of Edinburgh Council), Christine May (former leader of Fife Council) and Norman Murray (former leader of East Lothian Council). All three stood as candidates in the May elections to the Scottish Parliament - and all three were unsuccessful. The Action 4 Equality web site has plenty of information about the sort of issues you might wish to raise, for example: The employers refusal to disclose the pay rates of male workers - even though this should be freely available to the public The behaviour of the trade unions - in striking deals tha

East Lothian - Noses and Troughs

East Lothian - like many other councils in Scotland - has been quick to tell women workers that they can't afford equal pay. Very sorry and all that, should have done much better and, of course, it won't happen again - but let's look forward, not back and just get on with the job of delivering first class council services. This is the line repeatedly trotted out by senior councilors and officials - when trying to pour oil on the troubled waters of equal pay. But all too often it's one law for those at the top - while those demanding equal pay are told not to be greedy and not to rock the boat! Consider then the treatment of East Lothian's chief executive just before the council elections in May 2007. Mr Lindsay was about to retire shortly (at age 59) - but the Labour group ( which controlled the council at that point) agreed that he should also receive a redundancy package worth £149,000 - on top of his early retirement package of £200,000 (£150,000 as a lu

Disgrace in Aberdeenshire

Until the autumn of 2006, Ken Simpson was a leading figure in the GMB trade union - regional organiser for the Aberdeenshire area and responsible for - amongst other things - championing the rights of GMB members on important issues like equal pay. But according to our clients in Aberdeenshire, Ken was a known bully - who liked throwing his weight around and had a terrible, violent temper if anyone dared to question or challenge his advice. W hen equal pay came to the fore - predictably - he did the employer's dirty work by rubbishing Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross - while, of course, vigorously discouraging women GMB members from using the courts to protect their interests - after many years of inaction from the GMB and other trade unions, it has to be said. Now Ken is a disgraced former GMB official - because he was splashed all over The Sun newspaper last year after conducting a sordid affair with a woman - evidenced by photographs (taken by a mobile phone) of Ken lyin

West Lothian - Bigmouths and Bullies

At a meeting recent with home carers in West Lothian, two of our clients described an extremely unpleasant encounter with one of the council's elected members - and representative of the Labour Group to boot! The councillor made it plain he had no sympathy with the carers' equal pay claims because he told them, contemptuously: "All you do is wipe arses all day long!" Now this is a vile, stupid and offensive thing to say - not just about the carers, which is bad enough, but also about their clients - whom they help to support, so that older people can continue to lead dignified and independent lives in their own homes. These words are the words of a bully and an ignoramus - and the women on the receiving end felt they were completely powerless to do anything about the councillor's vile language - or to hold him to account for his appalling behaviour. Wrong! No one should put up with this kind of abuse - not for a single second! If this were ever to happen

West Lothian - Hall of Shame

No sooner had the antics of the unions in Falkirk Council been exposed, than the floodgates opened up with similar sorry tales from our clients in West Lothian. Yet again, the home care service was in the firing line and yet again the trade unions - in the shape of Unison, GMB and TGWU (now called Unite) - helped the employers to frighten and bully their women union members into submission. The women were told a new shift system was necessary - in future they would receive an 'all inclusive' rate of pay and lose enhanced payments for working shifts and weekends. What they were not told is that only the women carers were being singled out for this special treatment - the male bonus earners were left completely unscathed. The unions reps - Mike Kelly of Union and Peter Carr-Pollock of the GMB - who are still there today told their members they had no choice - either they accepted the council's proposals or the women carers would lose their jobs! What the unions should

CAN I START A NEW CLAIM?

The phone has been ringing off the hook in recent days with people asking if they can submit a fresh equal pay claim. The answer is a resounding - YES ! The reason being that all of the councils in Scotland are agreeing to protect the higher earnings of the (bonus earning) male workers for years into the future. So there is still a big pay gap between, say, a home carer or a classroom assistant and a refuse worker. And as long as this pay gap continues to exist, the lower paid women workers are entitled to claim the difference - which is done very easily by submitting a new equal pay claim via Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross. Such claims are worth thousands pounds, typically, depending on the specific job and number of hours worked - but in any event it's money that's better off in your pocket than the employers. Especially if you have previously been duped into accepting the council's first low offer of settlement! Everyone who accepted a first offer was force

Dirty Deeds in Falkirk

A number of clients from Falkirk Council have been in touch to say that the local trade unions are trying to re-write history and gloss over their bad behaviour on the subject of equal pay. The controversy has been caused by a recent letter from the Unison branch secretary, Gray Allan - who is now railing against the council, condemning its behaviour, calling it nasty names - and deservedly so - because Falkirk is guilty of bully boy tactics. Falkirk is the only council in Scotland, so far, to dismiss and re-engage its staff on new 'single status' contracts. But in 2002, Gray Allan and his union chums were only too happy to do the council's dirty work when it came to reorganising the home care service. The (largely female) workforce were told that they had to accept a new shift pattern (4 on and 4 off) and a new 'all inclusive' rate of pay - which meant that they would no longer receive enhanced payments for working shifts and weekends. At a series of 'roa

Settlement offers

The process of settling claims in Glasgow is now in full swing - though it's not been without its problems - first there were delays in getting the required information from the council - then there were the usual mistakes, errors, cock-ups and omissions - which are now slowly, but surely, getting resolved. Nonetheless, for most people things have gone relatively smoothly and many of our clients have been kind enough to pass on their comments - here are a few examples of what people have had to say. "Received my letter at the weekend, I'm absolutely thrilled at the result. Thanks for keeping in touch with us over the past 18 months, all you promised has been delivered. Hopefully all future negotiations will be as successful." ED, Glasgow. "I have received my new offer and am delighted. I would just like to thank you personally for all the help given. Thank you for taking the time to answer e-mails when I know you have been extremely busy. Thanks also to al