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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
Equal Pay and Single Status MSP Briefing
Communications

 

 

 

MSP Briefing

Equal Pay and Single Status

Introduction

This briefing is an update on UNISON Scotland's position on Equal Pay in Local Government. Equal Pay is the subject of a debate in Parliament on Thursday 9 November 2006.

Equal Pay in Local Government

UNISON Scotland is extremely concerned about the slow rate of progress towards reaching agreements on Single Status. There are a number of reasons for this but an important factor is funding for the cost of past discrimination. The current situation is:

  • Only three councils have concluded an agreement (South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Moray).

  • A significant number of councils have made very little progress in developing proposals.

  • Several authorities have presented final proposals. In these areas there are active negotiations or the proposals have been the subject of membership ballots. (Glasgow is among those currently balloting for industrial action).

  • Falkirk Council has issued notices of dismissal and re-engagement to staff. North Lanarkshire has imposed their pay and grading scheme. Others have intimated that they will do the same. Sacking staff is never the appropriate response. These authorities should return to the negotiating table to resolve the outstanding issues.

  • A large group of authorities are still developing proposals. This includes detailed discussions with the trade unions, mainly around the structure of the job evaluation scheme.

UNISON is focused on progressing agreements but it is the responsibility of local authorities to develop proposals. Too often councils are withholding vital job evaluation details information which is essential for the trade unions if we are to negotiate the implementation of equal pay and build staff confidence. What have these authorities got to hide?

Best Value

MSPs should be aware of the Best Value duty on local authorities, the central role of equality in Best Value (BV) and the assessment of BV by the Accounts Commission. Audit Scotland's BV reports do not identify the financial implications of pay inequality, nor do they record the fact that significant failings on equality suggest that councils are not delivering on BV as defined by the 2003 Act. It is extremely worrying that recent BV reports by Audit Scotland do not reflect the seriousness of the problems identified by the 2006 Finance Committee report into Single Status. We have informed Audit Scotland that we believe it ought to be more prominent in rectifying problems identified by the Committee.

Conclusion

No-one wants lengthy disputes or to divert public resources to lawyers through litigation. The UK government's failure to put Equal Pay law on a sound statutory footing at the time of the Department of Employment 1993 review seriously undermined the ability of local government employers to accurately project the costs of equal pay during single status negotiations in 1999. Government is responsible for delivering equal pay in the public sector and has accepted those responsibilities in health, education and other public services. We need a local government financial settlement that recognises these costs and for local authorities to recognise their responsibilities. It is time to deliver this long standing obligation and to ensure justice for low paid women.

For further information visit our website www.unison-scotland.org.uk

Or contact Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser at d.watson@unison.co.uk

 

 

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Further Information

Contacts list:

Dave Watson -
d.watson@unison.co.uk

@ The P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Glasgow G26RX
Tel 0845 355 0845
Fax 0141-307 2572