Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Bold, Free and Truthful

Here's a letter from a union member in South Lanarkshire - whose name has been withheld for obvious reasons.

I hope that The Hamilton Advertiser publishes the letter - as it deserves to be much more widely read.

But isn't it a sad comment on the state of affairs within South Lanarkshire Council - that people feel unable to speak their minds without worrying about the possible consequences - of being honest and truthful with their opinions.  

Dear Mr Smellie,

I read with interest your letter in the Hamilton Advertiser on the 5th of July 2012 to the men and women of South Lanarkshire council who are disputing South Lanarkshire council’s JES.

I am a South Lanarkshire Council employed, night shift care worker with 8 years service in this role and 11 years service working in caring for South Lanarkshire Council.

I am also one of the 2400 women employees who have an equal pay claim, being fought on my behalf by Fox Cross solicitors, against South Lanarkshire Council for discrimination against women employees.

I am also a UNISON union member who has been advised by UNISON that there is no right of appeal against South Lanarkshire Councils JES.

In reading your article I see that you have been very quick to point out that UNISON have now taken up representation of around 100 workers who are claiming equal pay against the council. You also go on to say that you are representing men and women in this dispute.

Can I ask you how many men are you representing in this dispute?

Because, as far as I was aware, the dispute that is being fought by Fox Cross solicitors is that women employees are paid less than men employees doing a similar graded role. Therefore I am confused that men would be involved in the same dispute, unless they believe they are overpaid or not quite sure of their gender?

Perhaps you are involved in a different equal pay dispute with South Lanarkshire Council, which also exists which discriminates against ‘women & women’ and ‘men & men’ with different length of service?

I am also discriminated against in this aspect due to the fact that I took up my current role after the JES was introduced, meaning that I don’t qualify for 1/3rd enhancement for working night shift when my colleagues doing the same role as me do?

South Lanarkshire Council and UNISON don’t believe this is discrimination, but I do?

Anyway if you are representing men in your equal pay claim against South Lanarkshire Council, I think you are misleading us women that you are fighting our corner against South Lanarkshire Council in their discrimination against female employees?

You clearly state that the councils JES was not discriminatory, although you go on to say that the pay scheme is unclear and therefore all workers have the right to a hearing on an individual basis that could take several years to complete, to see if it is discriminatory?

This looks like a contradiction in terms to me, if an employee has the right to an individual hearing to assess if there is discrimination against them, then how can you make a statement that the JES is not discriminatory?

I think you should have waited until after the individual hearings to make a statement, unless you’ve already made up your mind?

This is why 2400 women South Lanarkshire Council employees have employed the services of Fox Cross Solicitors to represent them in an equal pay claim against South Lanarkshire Council, as they are paid a lot less than male employees doing a similar graded job.

We have employed the services of Fox Cross Solicitors because our union, UNISON, would not represent their members in this case.

All these women would have rather fought the case through their union, as it would not have cost them any fees (apart from their weekly union dues?).

But the fact that your fight looks a bit like hitting a murderer over the head with a feather and asking them nicely not to do it again, just shows why the women have decided at a rate of 24/1 against using the union to fight the case for them.

I believe that paying a percentage of something, to a solicitor who helps us get justice is far better that paying 0% of nothing because your union believes that discrimination is fair?

I wonder how many women South Lanarkshire Council members UNISON has after this equal pay dispute is resolved?

The fact is all 2400 women who have a claim against South Lanarkshire Council, know that their rate of pay is discriminatory; they don’t need a UNION representative, or judge to tell them that.

We have husbands, partners, brothers and male friends who work for South Lanarkshire Council and although they benefit from the current situation, they believe that we should be equal.

We do know what the difference of pay is and the Claim that you make that “South Lanarkshire stopped bonuses over 12 years ago and all women and men moved to a common pay system in 2004” is untrue.

I am not supplying my name and address with this letter.

As I stated, I have been discriminated against up until now and I would rather not make myself a target for further discrimination against me, but I am sending a copy of this letter to the Hamilton Advertiser, and Fox Cross solicitors for reference of my thoughts and my colleagues thoughts on this matter.