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Showing posts from November, 2007

Sandy Burns and Pastures New

Sandy Burns is moving on to pastures new at the end of this week . Sandy has made a great contribution to the work of Action 4 Equality in Scotland - which he joined in the summer of 2006. Every day since, Sandy has dealt with the numerous calls and queries from thousands of Scottish clients in a friendly and helpful manner - remaining courteous, good humoured and professional - even when callers are wound up and incredibly frustrated - more often than not because of the bad behaviour of their employers. So, a heartfelt 'THANK YOU' to Sandy for all his hard work and commitment to the cause - Sandy is moving on to another job in the voluntary sector and we would like to place on record our very best wishes to him for the future! As a result, we are introducing new arrangements for dealing with calls from clients in Scotland - from Monday 3 December onwards all phone enquiries will be dealt with by our Newcastle office. So, in future if you have a query about an existin

West Lothian Council

West Lothian is the latest council to issue new lump sum offers to staff - but these offers are not an improvement on what has gone before - and they cover only part of the period that is still in dispute. So, our advice to people is to reject any new offer at this stage - because it represents a very good deal for the council and a rotten deal for the workforce. Why is West Lothian doing this? For the same reasons as Edinburgh - see post dated 10 November 2007. Many people were duped or frightened into accepting the council's original offer - but the Compromise Agreement that staff were forced to sign (to get their hands on the money) has run out! West Lothian's agreement expired in February 2007 - yet the pay differences between the male and female jobs is as wide as ever - and will continue for years to come. So, having conned the workforce once the council is simply up to its old tricks again - trying to get people to give up their claims for much less than they&#

Edinburgh - Male Claims

Edinburgh City Council's finance chief - Councillor Gordon MacKenzie - made the following statement in the Evening News on Friday 26 October 2007: "The legal advice we had was that we did not have to offer compensation payments to the male manual workers, there was not the same level of risk that there is to female workers." "However, there has been a great deal of discussion within the council over the last week and it was felt that we had to offer both male and female workers the same deal in terms of compensation." "We've basically agreed that people in the same posts should be paid the same salary regardless of their sex, as it was felt we could have left ourselves open to other legal cases if we treated male workers differently." Action 4 Equality reported this news at the time - as a victory for common sense - especially as these individuals (i.e male workers in predominantly female jobs) had previously been offered compensation by th

Equal Pay Bombshell for South Lanarkshire

Great news - South Lanarkshire's cat is finally out of the bag - and women workers in that council will now begin to realise the extent of their betrayal over equal pay. We asked our clients for help - to discover the size of the pay gap between traditional male and female jobs. Remember this is the council that boasted famously: "We don't have an equal pay problem" - South Lanarkshire supposedly sorted things out with a new Single Status pay structure in 2004. We asked people to confirm what the male jobs actually earn - relying on the fact that our clients live and work alongside the men doing these jobs. And boy, oh boy, have they delivered the goods. Personal details will be withheld for obvious reasons - but the results are utterly astonishing - and confirm that the pay gap is much greater than even we imagined. For example, a Refuse Driver is currently paid £11.02 per hour - which is Spinal Column Point (SCP) 44 on the pay ladder - according to a pay s

New Claims - Across Scotland

We've had lots of calls in the past few days regarding the two recent posts about New Claims in Edinburgh (see posts dated 10 November 2007). "Does the same apply in other councils across Scotland?", people want to know. Well, the answer is a very definite YES! All councils in Scotland have deliberately excluded large groups of employees - and despite these people having perfectly valid claims - they have been left out in the cold (see New Claims 1). All councils in Scotland that made cash offers to employees (South Lanarkshire is the exception) continue to pay the women workers much less than the men - and will do so for years to come - so everyone who accepted the first offer can re-start their claim (see New Claims 2). If you need any further advice, ring Action 4 Equality on 0131 667 7956 or contact Mark Irvine at: markirvine@compuserve.com

Edinburgh - New Claims 2

As well as the groups mentioned in the previous post (Edinburgh - New Claims 1), there's a second category of Edinburgh workers who also have a new equal pay claim - those who accepted the council's first offer in October 2006. Many people were duped or frightened into accepting a cash sum - for much less than their claim was really worth - because of the bully boy tactics of the council and the spineless behaviour pf the trade unions. Why do these people have a new claim? Because the legal document (Compromise Agreement) they were forced to sign - to get their hands on the money - expired in October 2006, but widespread pay discrimination continues to this day! All the traditional male jobs have continued to earn much more than their female colleagues - and this pay gap will continue for years to come. The latest settlement negotiated by Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross in Edinburgh goes up to 1 April 2008 - but those who settled (for much less than they should) ca

Edinburgh - New Claims 1

Edinburgh City Council is in the process of settling some of its equal pay claims - those brought by employees doing 'manual worker' jobs such as cleaners, catering workers and home helps. But there is a much greater group of people who have just as good a claim as the manual workers - and who have not been offered a penny piece by the council - to make up for many years of pay discrimination. Who are they? Classroom Assistants - helping young people get the best out of their education Clerical and Admin Workers - in schools and other council departments Catering Managers - overseeing Edinburgh's school meals service Social Care Workers - providing personal care and support in the community Nursery Nurses - providing early years educational support Why do these groups have an equal pay claim? Because for years they have been paid thousands of pounds a years less than traditional male jobs - such as refuse workers, road workers, gardeners and gravediggers.

Argyll & Bute

Argyll & Bute is the latest council to try and bully its staff into accepting new contracts of employment. The council has written to all employees with the outcome of the (Single Status) Job Evaluation exercise - which determines what people's new grades and rate of pay will be. If they don't accept what's on offer voluntarily, the council says it will simply impose the deal anyway. How's that for good management and modern industrial relations? Predictably, Argyll & Bute is following the same well trodden path of other councils - North Lanarkshire, West Lothian and Fife to name a few. Significantly, the council is providing people the scores of only their own jobs - they want people to make a huge decision completely in the dark - without crucial details of how other employees are being treated. What are they afraid to share this information? Because the council doesn't want the women workers to see how the male jobs have been scored - or to unde

Evening Times 3

The good news is that the article about South Lanarkshire Council and the trade unions appears in today's Evening Times - under the news section and title - Union to Face Legal Battle with Members - http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/ The article is much smaller than originally intended - which is disappointing, but it has been squeezed in a good cause - by the coverage of Glasgow's successful bid for the Commonwealth Games. Nevertheless all publicity is good publicity - and this will certainly help keep up the pressure on the council and the trade unions. Knowledge is power - as they say. Every day more people are beginning to understand that Single Status and Equal Pay is a complete joke in South Lanarkshire - and that both the council and the trade unions need to be held to account for their behaviour. We are now receiving confirmation about the pay differences between male and female jobs in South Lanarkshire - and the pay gap is far greater than even we imagined! This

Evening Times 2

Just a quick note to say that the Evening Times article planned for today has been re-scheduled to appear tomorrow - Friday 9 November - this often happens with newspapers, but we'll let you know as soon as the story is published.

Evening Times

The Evening Times newspaper is planning to run a story tomorrow (Thursday 8 November) highlighting some of the shenanigans that have been going on in South Lanarkshire Council - over Equal Pay and Single Status. So let's make sure the story becomes the talk of the steamie in South Lanarkshire. Because that will help turn the spotlight on the council and the trade unions who both have a lot to answer for - especially their behaviour in striking secret pay deals. Deals that have kept women workers and ordinary union members completely in the dark about preferential treatment for traditional male jobs. We will post brief details here as soon as the story is published - along with details of where to find the article on the Evening Times web site. Spread the word to as many people as possible - and use the information to good effect in any meetings that you might be arranging with local Councillors, MSPs and MPs.

Midlothian Council

A client from Midlothian Council has been in touch to say that Learning Assistants have done very badly out of the local pay and grading review - this is not unusual because all too often the employers set out to gerrymander the results - to keep down the costs. Confirmation of the council's bad behaviour quickly followed as the client revealed that new grades had been 'agreed' over the heads of staff - and imposed by management - but without any input or involvement from the Learning Assistants. The council's behaviour breaks all the rules of Job Evaluation - which require staff to be fully involved at every stage. In fact, they are expected to sign off new job descriptions - to ensure that key duties and responsibilities are described accurately and fairly - before being assessed . If this is what's happened to Learning Assistants, pound to a penny it's happened to many other groups of staff as well. What should people do? Don't accept this kind

South Lanarkshire Letters (2)

Lots of clients have been in touch to say that they are members of GMB Scotland - and that their own trade union has behaved every bit as badly as Unison when it comes to Single Status and Equal Pay. So, we have edited the original letter addressed to the local Unison branch - and directed this at the GMB official who covers the South Lanarkshire area, a chap called Alan Duncan. A copy of this letter can be sent to GMB members by e-mail on request - please send any enquiries to: markirvine@compuserve.com Both Unison and the GMB are now likely to be joined to the Employment Tribunal proceedings that are underway against South Lanarkshire Council. If the unions have signed up to a discriminatory pay and grading structure (as we say), then they are every bit as much to blame as the employer - and they will be held to account when it comes to damages.

Union Dues Rocket - Again!

A client from Edinburgh has been in touch with another example of union dues going through the roof - without a word of warning or explanation to ordinary members. See previous post dated 10 October 2007. This time the culprit is Unison - which has increased the woman's union contributions by £2.50 a month - up from £11.50 to £14.00 in a single bound. Now this represents a whacking great 22% rise - or more than ten times the rate of inflation, depending on which measure you use. If an employer acted this way, the trade unions would be shouting from the rooftops - calling for urgent action to tackle wildly rising charges and for such behaviour to be restrained. But, of course, they won't because that would simply encourage members to ask awkward, if entirely reasonable, questions such as: "How can Unison possibly justify such an extraordinary increase - and what does the union plan to spend all the extra money on?" One place it will go is straight onto the co

South Lanarkshire Letters

Just a quick note to say that we can e-mail clients with copies of the two recent equal pay letters for use in South Lanarkshire Council - see posts dated 1 November 2007. One letter is aimed at Councillors/MSPs/MPs - the other is turning the spotlight on the role of the trade unions, in particular the local Unison branch. We can e-mail an edited version of these articles to you - for use as a straightforward letter only (i.e. without the introduction and explanation) - which might make it easier for people to download, print off and use locally. You will still have to include you own details (address and post code) - and date and sign the Unison letter. You will have to do the same with the Councillor/MSP/MP letter, but in this case you will also need to decide which local politician to approach for help in persuading the Council to behave properly. Please send any e-mail requests to: markirvine@compuserve.com

South Lanarkshire Council - letter to Unison

Stephen Smellie (pronounced Smiley, not Smelly) is the Unison branch secretary in South Lanarkshire Council. But Stephen (a former left-wing firebrand and supporter of Militant - which grew into the Scottish Socialist Party) has been strangely quiet on the subject of Equal Pay. As quiet as a mouse in fact - or even a Trappist Monk - because Stephen appears to have lost the ability to speak up for union members. South Lanarkshire Council says that its Single Status pay structures were agreed by Unison and the other trade unions - but Stephen and his colleagues have remained silent while the row over Equal Pay and Single Status has raged in the press and media. So, what is the position of Unison and the other trade unions - have they reached a collective agreement with the council and, if so, why are ordinary members being kept in the dark? Here's a letter union members can send to their Unison branch secretary - which will help put Unison and the other trade unions on the

South Lanarkshire Council - letter to Councillors, MSPs and MPs

At a recent Action 4 Equality meeting in South Lanarkshire we agreed to provide clients with a letter that will help get a message across to local Councillors, MSPs and MPs. Well here it is - the letter is not asking anyone to take sides at this stage - simply for their help in putting the facts on the table - so that everyone can judge for themselves how the council has behaved in introducing a new (Single Status) pay and grading structure. All you need to do is date the letter - and add your name and address before sending it off to the Councillor, MSP or MP of your choice. If you need any further help, contact Action 4 Equality on 0131 667 7956. Address and Date Dear Councillor/MSP/MP South Lanarkshire Council - Single Status and Equal Pay I am looking for your support in finding out exactly how Single Status has been implemented in South Lanarkshire Council. Under normal circumstances this information should be readily available to staff and others, but up till now counc