Government Home | Single Status
Fair pay in Scotland's Local Government
Communications issues arising from Single Status and Job evaluation,
and how to plan your campaign
NB - Differences in the approach to implementing
Job Evaluation deals across Scotland, mean that this paper can
only be a general guideline. For example, there are differences
where authorities choose (with or without agreement) to use a
different scheme from the SJC scheme, and there will be differences
where employers negotiate rather than attempt to impose a scheme).
In the case of unilateral imposition for example,
the particular schemes/details can be singled out for attack,
and the lack of negotiation used as the creator of some of the
UNISON is working hard on three fronts:
- to ensure that members are paid fairly and equally without
losing jobs - identifying and preparing e.g. pay for work
of equal value cases to pursue where there is a good chance
of success and to increase pressure on employers to negotiate
and implement fair pay across the board (see 1 below)
- to defend members threatened by massive loss of pay due
to poor/job evaluation/low pay issues or other reasons. We
will negotiate and if necessary take action to defend members'
pay and the services they provide (see 2 below)
- Campaigning to put pressure on politicians locally and nationally
to properly fund fair pay and the public services that members
provide (see 3 below)
The importance of Communications
This is a crucial part of the overall strategy.
Branches should be looking at an early stage on the way they are
going to publicise UNISON's view on the issues both with the media
and with members. To do this effectively branch execs should be
clear about their aims and objectives at each stage of the negotiation
and campaign. It is too easy to get sucked into the minutiae of
details and not see the bigger picture. It is imperative that
aims, objectives and targets are set early on and revisited regularly
and/or if and when circumstances change.
The Local Government Committee suggests that a three-route
strategy be adopted, and below are some Communications arguments
The Litigation route
We are committed to fighting for equal pay. We
have had much experience and have been busy identifying likely
areas where groups dominated by women have historically suffered
discrimination. (eg Clerical Workers; School Auxiliaries; Classroom
Assistants; Nursery Nurses; Home Carers; Cleaners; Catering
Staff). No promises can or should be made - cases will only
be taken after being properly assessed when we know details.
We will also use legal cases to 'concentrate the
mind' of the employer in negotiations
Branches should identify likely jobs/groups and
begin to prepare publicity/identify spokespersons from these
No Win No Fee Lawyers
Advice/leaflet is being prepared to challenge
the claims made by some law firms. (see
The Negotiation/Industrial Action route
To defend members in all cases - UNISON will:
- try to negotiate the fairest possible deal for all - not
cherrypick obvious cases
- suggest and fight for the maximum possible protection for
those threatened with pay cuts - including job redesignation;
protection schemes; retraining; early retirement etc.
- take action where members' jobs are threatened by cuts and/or
dismissals and/or unilateral and unfair pay cuts
- lobby for proper funding to enable this massive exercise
to be carried out fairly and for people to be treated properly
- Industrial Action should be an option in extreme cases.
You should , of course, comply with all UNISON's IA procedures
and ensure that communications is part of the IA plan.
3. The Campaigning route
UNISON will use its political links to argue for
proper funding to be provided to local authorities to deal with
We should use the forthcoming elections (2007) to
make it clear to politicians (local and national) that schemes
that (a) do not address unfair pay or (b) attack jobs/pay and
services will be fought with political consequences.
Members should be approached as part of the campaign
to write to MSPs (draft letters will be provided). Lobbies (local
and national) should be organised. Campaign plans should be started
to identify aims and targets.
We also need to argue that both we and the employers
should be lobbying the Scottish Executive to fund these evaluations,
- this is about creating fair pay for public service workers
- Government money has and is being found to fund pay restructuring
like McCrone, and job evaluation /pay equality Agenda for
- The funding levels awarded to Scottish LA's were not sufficient
to deal with this major restructuring of the pay scales.
- If they do not fund job evaluation there are only three
alternatives (or a combination of these) - the JE is cut and
doesn't address the problem; Services and jobs are cut to
pay any costs or Council Tax is increased.
Specific Problems and Some Answers
Even when introduction has been negotiated there
may well be serious concerns regarding the implementation and
some aspects of any deals and how these and UNISON appear publicly
to members/non-members and in the press.
Some Problem areas are:-
- Deals may be bad-mouthed by some as ‘not good enough' -
legal firms; some staff groups etc will perceive compromise
as an attempt to sell their pay/backdating short.
- ‘High losers' may attack the union for agreeing to deals
that cut their pay substantially.
[In one case this has led to a non-union campaign for the
setting up of a 'Consultative Body' under the new Regulations.
The use of these information and consultation regulations
to undermine the unions needs a separate campaign which can
be provided should branches face this challenge. Contact Chris
Bartter - Communications Officer email@example.com
tel 0141-342 2877]
- Managers (esp senior managers) also seem to do well and
whilst this may be good for our members in these grades, it
is a difficult one to sell publicly -particularly when people
lower down the chain are losing.
- Some politicians and managers/commentators portray this
as the council taxpayer paying bureaucrats for some ‘national'/'politically
correct' idea of equality.
We need to address the attacks as far as possible
and also highlight positive examples- below are some arguments
that begin to address the problems above. They can only be a start
as each issue/dispute will have its own specifics which will need
to be addressed.
- we need to say how many and what types of jobs are winning
- key groups are low-paid staff in the caring services, cleaning
and catering, homecarers, classroom assistants etc - dominated
by women who have traditionally been unfairly treated.
- We need to say what people are getting - at the top of
the range plus any settlements - the £7K in Moray for
example.Arguments re 'no win - no fee' lawyers are listed
- This group (mainly male manuals) feels frustrated and ignored
- not without reason. They tend to be quite well organised
and we should be taking their concerns into consideration
- It is difficult at this stage to formulate a publicity strategy
to deal with problems like unofficial walkouts - resignations
etc. etc. Obviously unofficial action cannot be officially
condoned without putting the union at risk of sequestration.
In any case our approach will almost certainly be different
where the authority and UNISON negotiate a deal from one where
it is unilaterally imposed. Indeed in the latter case it might
even be an easier PR job - because that can then be advanced
as one of the problems.
We should be clear that we will defend members
against unfair pay cuts. That Equal Pay should NOT mean major
pay/conditions cuts, and that this happens because job evaluation
has not been properly financed. To try to rectify years of
discrimination on 'a zero cost' basis means that neither the
authority, nor the government is paying for it - other of
our members are!
However, honesty is the best policy here -
we have to also be clear that job evaluation is about equalising
pay and that some may need to ‘stand still and/or be protected'
because others are underpaid.
If there are any other things we can negotiate
- career grades in particular occupations, changes to jobs
to attract higher job evaluation scores, job redesign, longer
protection, retraining, early retirement etc - then we should
do so, and tell people if we get them, and if the authority
refuses, then we can use that refusal too.
(iii) The 'managers winning' issue could be addressed
in the following ways.
(iv) We need to point out that either
a deal is negotiated and agreed or expensive court
cases could cost the councils much more. The implication for North
Cumbria Health Trust of the Equal Pay award was 300 million pounds
, for 1500 women.
If schemes have been imposed or major problems unilaterally
imposed (skewing the pay line in favour of senior managers for
example) then it should be pointed out that the scheme may not
satisfy the equal pay legislation. Calling in equality checking/job
analysts etc might be effective here.
Planning your Campaign
We need to plan the communications for each event/step
- eg the introduction of job evaluation, and in particular the
announcement of deals.
These plans should include:-
- Aims - what do we want?
- Targets - who do we need to convince? - Members?
- A timetable
- These key areas will tend to determine what material you
need eg if your target is members - it might be more effective
to speak to them at workplace meetings - therefore speakers
notes might be needed.
- Information needs to be gathered - for example i/d of numbers
of members and amounts being gained - get ‘pleased' case studies
- i/d groups of losers and how they are to be treated - think
if they need special material - what have we done to protect
- Referring back to the campaign targets, we should plan the
material we need for specific aspects of the campaign eg leaflets,
branch newsletter, website for members, press releases, lobbying,
letters etc for politicians (both national and local)
- Where we negotiate an agreement we should also work with
the authority in agreeing the messages they/we will put out,
identifying likely problems - rogue councillors; disgruntled
members; problem managers etc and the line on these problems
- joint if possible, our own where necessary .
These are both targets and a method of reaching
your other targets.
They will always want the ‘horror'
stories eg the extreme losers.
They will also want ‘case studies' - if we don't
provide them - others will.
They will not understand the details - KISS is the
- minimise the horror stories through negotiation - and list
what we have achieved
- where this isn't possible we should be seen to be fighting
for these people
- maximise the ‘plus' parts - Who needs to have fair pay -
how long have they been discriminated against? Etc.
- we should point out how long we have been trying to press
employers into dealing with the issue
- we need to make early contact with journalists who are interested
(political correspondents/local government correspondents
etc) and keep them briefed on events
- identify ‘case studies' - eg low paid women taking cases
through the union
- identify arguments we have advanced (and won)
Be careful not to: give the impression we can process
all cases; make comments about lawyers taking
cases outside the advice given elsewhere
Be careful to: refer queries to the appropriate
person (branch official/regional officer/specific spokesperson?)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) - Aug