Equal Pay and Single Status
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
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?
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.
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