Showing posts from February, 2008

Edinburgh City Council - male claims

Edinburgh City Council met earlier this month to consider the position of male clients - i.e. those employed in female dominated posts such as carers, cooks and cleaners. The formal decision of the council was recorded in the following terms: "To make no offers to male employees at this time but to recognise the arguments for paying staff the same regardless of their gender and to formally record that the Council was committed to being an excellent employer where staff are treated fairly and equally." Now these are weasel words - the words of politicians who traditionally have more faces than the town clock - and they will provide cold comfort to male claimants who clearly deserve to be treated in exactly the same way as their female colleagues. The legal action Stefan Cross is taking against Edinburgh City Council will continue as long as it takes. Remember at the start of this whole business councils, like Edinburgh, were insisting that no one had an equal pay clai

Job Evaluation - Friend or Foe?

East Lothian C ouncil has recently introduced a new Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) and has agreed to provide details of the new grades to Stefan Cross - other councils, West Lothian for example, are in a similar position. The potential significance of the new JES grades is that for years it has been common ground - amongst the employers and trade unions - that many female dominated council jobs have been badly undervalued for years - it follows, therefore, they must also have been badly underpaid. For example, carers, learning assistants, catering workers, admin and clerical workers - to name a few - have all been paid (for the past 10 years) much less than refuse workers and gardeners. A new Job Evaluation Scheme can tackle this problem and - potentially at least - level the playing field between male and female jobs - but the big issue is always about how any new scheme is applied in practice. The devil is in the detail, as always, but in theory a new JES - based on objective a

Brass Necks and South Lanarkshire

South Lanarkshire is in a terrible pickle over how to handle a new round of equal pay grievances. Stefan Cross has re-issued these grievances (in South Lanarkshire as elsewhere) to protect the interests of clients - the detailed reasons have been spelled out in a separate letter. But South Lanarkshire has a particular problem - because it has been pretending up till now that people don't really understand what their grievances are about. Well we have news for South Lanarkshire - people do understand - of course they do - a child could grasp the point that's being made. Their grievances are about why groups of traditional male jobs such as gardeners and refuse workers - are paid so much more (thousands of pounds more, in many cases) than cleaners, catering workers, carers, classroom assistants, admin & clerical workers and nursery nurses! South Lanarkshire now has to decide whether to re-hear all these grievances - and to answer them properly this time. If they d

South Lanarkshire - STOP PRESS

South Lanarkshire has today issued letters to employees pursuing equal pay claims - our clients describe them as "intimidating" and "threatening", which is understandable as they are full of nonsense and misinformation. Stefan Cross will be writing to all clients in the next few days - as quickly as possible - because unlike the council - we have absolutely nothing to hide. In the meantime, there is no need to get anxious or upset - South Lanarkshire scare stories about extra costs and so forth - are completely ridiculous and untrue. So, the message is: 1 Don't panic - nothing to worry about 2 Sit tight - advice will follow as quickly as possible 3 Ask yourself - if there is no huge pay gap (between male and female jobs), why doesn't the council just release the pay information - if it has nothing to hide? Further news to follow - take heart from the council clutching at such straws!

South Lanarkshire - Union Doublespeak

A curious feature of the equal pay cases in South Lanarkshire Council - is that the trade unions are not involved in a single claim to the Employment Tribunals. Nowhere else in Scotland is this true - in other areas the trade unions tend to have far fewer claims than those brought by Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross - but at least they're at the races. In South Lanarkshire all is sweetness and light seemingly - or at least it used to be - until we began to ask the trade unions whether they are in fact fully signed up to the council's local Single Status Agreement and Job Evaluation Scheme which were introduced in 2004. All of a sudden the unions are singing a different tune - perhaps because they too could be in the frame (along with the council) for agreeing to a something that turns out to be a real 'pig in a poke'. South Lanarkshire Council says their scheme has trade union support - but intriguingly the unions themselves are now not so sure. The local Unis

South Lanarkshire - House of Cards

South Lanarkshire Council is getting its knickers in an awful twist over its Job Evaluation Scheme (JES). Action 4 Equality and Stefan Cross are challenging the validity of the scheme - we've described it as a back of a fag packet job - a Mickey Mouse scheme, if ever there was one. We've shared our criticisms with the council put the details up on the blog site - see post dated 16 January 2008 . As you'd expect this is not going down too well with the great and the good in South Lanarkshire - because they've been telling all and sundry (for years) that they've cracked the whole equal pay problem. When - in reality - their chickens are only now coming home to roost. At a recent CMD hearing these issues were debated back and forward with the council's legal advisers. Because a major reason for our challenge to the scheme is that South Lanarkshire still refuses to explain how it works - how the different male and female jobs are scored - and how male and f

Edinburgh - Male Claims

Edinburgh City Council is to consider the position of male equal pay claimants this week - on Thursday 7 February - see previous post dated 25 January 2008. As ever, the council hedging its bets instead of doing the right thing - by treating male workers exactly the same way as women, as it said it would back in October 2007 - according to the Edinburgh Evening News So, the best thing people can do is to contact their own local councillor in advance of Thursday's meeting - and encourage individual councillors to look at the real issues - instead of just towing the party line. There is absolutely no justification for treating a male carer, cook or cleaner any differently to their female colleagues - and that's what equal pay is all about. Contact details for all local councillors can be found on the Edinburgh city council web site at: If you need any help, contact Mark Irvine at:

Midlothian Council

Nothing to report from Midlothian Council on the Employment Tribunals front at the moment - still waiting for the next CMD hearing. But one of our clients has been in touch to say that council managers are circulating information about their proposals to introduce new Job Families - as part of a wider job evaluation package. Now Job Families come with a very severe health warning - for all you need to know about the dangers of Job Families - read the post on South Lanarkshire Council dated 16 January 2008. Job Families are a management device for getting around the real requirements of a proper Job Evaluation Scheme (JES). Instead of evaluating the demands of individual jobs - as they are done now - the employer simply invents a new job or a new category of job - which may even be an imaginary, amalgamated job - put plainly, a job that doesn't even exist . The paper from Midlothian tries to compare job families to musical intruments in an orchestra - conjuring up images o

East Lothian Council

East Lothian is following in the footsteps of a few other Scottish councils - by trying to frighten and bully its employees into signing new contracts of employment . The council has been issuing letters in recent days - saying basically that employees must accept the new terms and conditions on offer - or else! And if you're not used to dealing with this kind of bullying behaviour, it's obviously very intimidating and threatening. So, to take the stress out of the situation we have prepared a response for Action 4 Equality clients - a copy of which can be sent to you on request. All you need to do is to address and date the letter before signing and sending it off to the council chief executive - keeping a copy for future reference. If you require such a letter, please request one from our Newcastle office or send your contact details by e-mail to:

Fife Council

Fife Council has been caught out telling 'porky pies' to a Scottish MSP. Council managers have - for some odd reason - been advising Tricia Marwick (MSP) that Fife's equal pay claims seemed to have been forgotten and were just gathering dust in some back office! Thankfully, one of our Fife clients passed on a copy of the correspondence between the council and MSP - and Action 4 Equality has now written to Tricia Marwick setting the record straight. The truth is that we have written to Fife Council twice in recent weeks - suggesting an urgent meeting to resolve all the outstanding claims and it's the council that's failed to respond - the exact opposite of what their senior managers were telling one of the local Fife MSPs. So, the moral of the story is don't believe what the employers have to say - they have been telling lies and keeping people in the dark about equal pay for years - and a few more 'dirty tricks' at this stage won't cause the

Classroom Assistants

A group of Classroom Assistants from Clackmannanshire have been in touch to ask - Do we have a valid equal pay claim against our council? The answer is absolutely - YES - without a moment's doubt or hesitation. Because equal pay has nothing to do with being a manual worker - all kinds of council employees have perfectly good claims - although the employers and trade unions are not keen to tell people so - since the next obvious question would be - Why haven't we been told before now? Equal pay is about differences in pay between groups of male and female workers - no matter what jobs they do - employed by the same employer. If there is a pay gap - it can only be justified by reference to the skills and responsibilities of the jobs that are being compared. In other words, the higher pay of the male job is only justified if the male job can be shown to exercise more skill and responsibility than the female job. But when you look at what the employers (and the trade u