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Showing posts from July, 2007

NONE SO BLIND, AS WILL NOT SEE!

A male employee of North Ayrshire council has been in touch to say he is unhappy at our criticism of the local management and trade unions - because, in his considered opinion, they are not really favouring the men over the women - when it comes to equal pay. In support of this argument, he explains that his current hourly rate as a refuse worker (others are better paid) is £8.40 - but that this will drop to £7.60 under the new single status pay structure - though his current earnings will be protected for at least another 3 years - by which time of course the normal annual 'cost of living' pay increases (of 3% or so per year) will take him back up to where he started. But what our male refuse worker fails to recognise - of course - is that he has been on this much higher rate of pay for years and years. Whereas many women's jobs that have been on the same or even a higher grade than his - have been earning £2 to £3 per hour less for all that time - which adds up to t

North Lanarkshire - new 'dodgy' ballot

North Lanarkshire Council went ahead and imposed a new 'single status' pay structure in the autumn of 2006 - despite the fact that the workforce voted overwhelmingly to reject the package put forward by management and trade unions. Now the unions are continuing to do the employers dirty work - by conjuring up a second ballot right at the height of the holiday period! A letter from the local Unison branch dated 6 July announces a new ballot which must be completed and returned by 3 August 2007 - i.e. in less than a month and at a time when all the schools are closed and many people are off on their summer holidays. The timing stinks to high heaven - and suggests that the unions are simply trying to smuggle through a YES vote on a low return - while many of their members have more important things on their minds! Otherwise why not organise a ballot when people are at their work and can also attend workplace meetings - where they can ask questions of their elected represen

GMB FAT CATS - THE SAGA CONTINUES

The story about the GMB's Fat Cats has taken a strange and bizarre twist. The £200,000 salary figure was originally reported by Personnel Today magazine - but it turns out that not all of that amount was paid to the current General Secretary (Paul Kenny) - some of it was apparently paid to his predecessor (Kevin Curran) whom Paul Kenny replaced as Acting General Secretary in March 2005. How much was paid to Kevin Curran - and more importantly why - has yet to be explained by the GMB - but the fact is that in 2006/07 the GMB paid £199,000 to its 'two' general secretaries - one of whom stopped working for the union in 2004/05. Unbelievable, incredible - are the words that spring to mind - as well as the thought: What kind of way is that to spend GMB members' money? If the GMB wants to set the record straight, by explaining who was paid precisely what and, more importantly, why? - we'll be only too happy to publish the details here. The likely answer is that p

GMB - FAT CATS RULE OK?

GMB members in Scotland will be amazed to hear (not that their own union will tell them) that the recently installed General Secretary - Paul Kenny - is to be paid a Fat Cat salary of £200,000 a year - a handsome package which includes a top of the range car and final year's salary pension scheme! The GMB is, of course, fond of complaining about the high salaries and dividends paid to captains of industry - so this takes the biscuit for hypocrisy and union double speak. What must low-paid GMB members think of their organisation and its leaders? Now a labourer is worthy of his (or her) hire, of course. And, quite sensibly, some unions have introduced a link between the pay of their own full-time officials and the ordinary members the union represents. The EIS (teachers union in Scotland) - for example - links the pay of their most senior official to the highest paid secondary school teacher in Scotland - not a bad arrangement and one that most members can at least understand

NHS Joint Futures - Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

Sources within Scottish Executive have drawn an interesting fact to our attention. Some of the 'best brains' from local government and the unions have apparently been giving NHS Scotland the benefit of their wisdom and experience - on how to deal with equal pay. The Joint Futures Human Resources Group (JFHRG) met with ministers and civil servants back in 2004 to drive forward a modernising pay agenda - talks which led to, you guessed, Agenda for Change. So here are some of the brightest and best who gave of their valuable time to the JFHRG - free of charge as far as we can tell. Iris Wylie - a legend in her own lunchtime and head of personnel at North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) - largely responsible for the dog's dinner NLC has made of equal pay, having lost a crucial ballot is now simply ignoring the workforce and the unions - long time advisor to CoSLA (the employers umbrella body) on equal pay amongst other things - see previous post dated 16 April 2007. Joe Di P

AGENDA FOR CHANGE - LATEST NEWS

The NHS unions in Scotland (GMB and Unison) have now been joined to the Employment Tribunal proceedings that are underway against the employers. Why? Because the unions are jointly responsible for the implementation of Agenda for Change - not just the NHS management. The trade unions are taking joint decisions via local Grading Panels - in both hospital and community settings which is how NHS staff get placed on their new Agenda for Change band or grade. But many people rightly complain that these union reps are often invisible, anonymous figures - who under trained and ill-equipped to do the job - and who are not accountable to NHS staff and union members for the decisions they make. So, instead of Agenda for Change being handled in an open and transparent way - with decisions being made consistently and fairly across all the NHS employers - staff are faced with anomalies and contradictory decisions. Worse still, the whole exercise is conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy and sus

North Ayrshire - STOP PRESS

North Ayrshire continues to make a mess of its new 'single status' pay and grading structures - which are being imposed despite the workforce voting to reject the council's proposals earlier this year. Many clients have been in touch this week to complain that management and trade unions are less concerned about equal pay for women - and more exercised about protecting the earnings of the traditionally higher paid male groups. Women's jobs - jobs that have been undervalued and underpaid for years - are still being held back while the management and unions agree to protect the higher pay of the higher paid jobs such as refuse workers. To add insult to injury, management and the unions are now promising to redesign these jobs - so that they continue to be better paid for many years into the future. Equal pay is about closing the pay gap - and treating male and female workers fairly. But what North Ayrshire is doing is reinforcing the pay gap and maintaining different

North Ayrshire - Job Evaluation

North Ayrshire Council is not only in the process of imposing new contracts on all of its staff - the council is also trying to lay down the law when it comes to challenging the new grades that flow from its job evaluation scheme. North Ayrshire will no doubt follow the same path as other councils that have gone down this route: The council will refuse to give details of how other (male dominated) jobs have been graded - an essential piece of information - otherwise how can anyone judge if the exercise has been carried out fairly and properly, when they can't compare one job to another? The council will try to restrict people's rights of appeal - to very narrow and limited grounds of appeal - ones stacked in the council's favour instead of being fair and even-handed - but the management are just making these rules up as they go along The council will introduce ridiculous time limits - which have not even been discussed never mind agreed staff - again just to make life

NHS UPDATE 2 (of 3)

The second major item from the NHS case management discussion (2 July) was the ongoing row about whether the NHS in Scotland acts, in practice, as a single employer. Why is this important? Because if the NHS can be regarded as a single employer, then the process for dealing with all the outstanding cases will speed up enormously. Instead of having to deal with all the individual health boards (and other employers such as NHS 24) separately - it would be possible for the parties at the Employment Tribunal to agree that test cases be brought for each occupational group - on the understanding that the outcome would be binding on all other claims - right across NHS Scotland. Clearly, this would save a huge amount of time, energy and expense - for everyone involved - so you can bet your life the employers will resist such an eminently sensible suggestion. The good news is that the Scottish Executive has finally been forced to concede what has been obvious for some time. NHS Scotla

NHS UPDATE 1 (of 3)

The latest NHS case management discussion (held in Glasgow on 2 July) made some progress, but things are still getting bogged down because the employers continue to argue that their computer systems (heard this lame excuse before?) can't provide accurate information about people's jobs and grades. Now this would be funny if it were not so ridiculous and frustrating. The employers agreed to provide this information months ago - and they are still coming up with ridiculous excuses. If these people worked for the railways, they'd be blaming delays on the wrong kind of snow! Why is this information so crucial? Because in equal pay cases employers are required to explain clearly how many staff work in each job category or grade - and how these jobs are split between male and female employees. In other words, are some jobs done mainly by men or women - and what explains the difference in pay between the two groups? So, if as Action 4 Equality believes, highly trained nurs

Stirling - Settlement in Sight

Stirling is the latest council to come forward with revised offers of settlement to clients of Stefan Cross and Action 4 Equality. Stirling is one of Scotland's smaller councils, but it does go to show that the employers are talking to one another behind the scenes - and the result of the May council elections has certainly stirred the pot. Where the control of a council has changed hands - or the administration is under more pressure than before - there appears to be a willingness to deal with the mess that the employers and trade unions have made of equal pay. At this stage, Stirling is restricting its offer to former manual worker posts - and has not finally decided whether to make a similar offer to former APT&C staff. We are obviously encouraging the council to include as many people as possible - since we believe that all current claims are valid. Unfortunately, the person dealing with the calculations has gone off on holiday and the council says there is no one else

North Ayrshire - new contracts

As reported yesterday, North Ayrshire Council has announced its intention to impose new 'single status' contracts on its employees - but without their agreement to the terms of the new contract. Normally a contract can only be changed with the consent of an individual employee or, in certain circumstances, the collective agreement of the trade unions. For reasons the council has failed to explain, so far, North Ayrshire says it will simply impose the new contract - regardless of what anyone thinks - which is hardly the sort of behaviour expected of a public sector employer. But at this stage North Ayrshire Council has only issued a press release via its web site - the council has not written to employees explaining or justifying its actions - and actions speak much louder than words. So our strong advice to clients is simply to sit tight - and do not sign or agree to anything at this stage. It is not in your interests to agree to these changes voluntarily - it is bette

North Ayrshire Council - Sauce for the Goose

North Ayrshire Council is the latest employer that is trying to impose a new pay and grading structure on its workforce - but without the agreement of its employees or the trade unions (see earlier posts dated 24 January and 14 June). Just a few days ago, West Lothian Council went down the same route - but the council's behaviour was quickly raised on the floor of the House of Commons. Local Labour MP, Jim Devine, a former Unison official, condemned the SNP led council and invited the Chancellor (Gordon Brown) to join in the criticism. Gordon Brown duly did so - willingly and without hesitation. No doubt his decision was made that much easier because West Lothian is now led by the SNP - which wrestled control of the council from Labour at the May elections. But the fact is that North Ayrshire is behaving in exactly the same way as West Lothian - and what's sauce for the goose should, of course, be sauce for the gander. So, let's see if the local politicians (MPs,

Edinburgh - Settlement in Sight

Our clients in Edinburgh will be pleased to learn that we are close to reaching a settlement with the City Council. Talks have been underway, intermittently, over the past two months. There are still a number of important issues to resolve - but we are confident that an outline agreement with the City Council will be reached soon - hopefully within the next couple of weeks. If so, a timetable for payment will run over the summer months - with a likely completion date by early September. We cannot go into specific details at the moment, unfortunately. We are not clear, for example, whether Edinburgh will decide to exclude certain groups, as Glasgow did recently. If so, the fight for these groups will continue. But as soon as we can spell things out - we will do so via a new post on the web site. So, everyone one should take heart from the fact that yet another council (Scotland's second largest behind Glasgow) is now keen to settle. And, of course, people can use this la