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Date 7 December 2005

UNISON win landmark victory in 'Best Value' dismissal cases

UNISON, Scotlandıs public service union, today announced a new win against a Scottish Council in an Employment Tribunal which has significant implications for equal pay negotiations across Scotland.

in what has clearly been a bad week for Glasgow City Council, the union won five cases against the council who dismissed their entire museum staff and re-engaged them, many with reduced conditions, as part of a so-called 'Best Value' review.

The bitter dispute in the museum service lead to strike ballots and police intervention as angry pickets protested against wage cuts of as much as £1,000 for low paid workers.

UNISON took ten test cases to tribunal. The council offered full value settlements in five cases and UNISON have now won the remaining five cases. Peter Hunter UNISONScotlandıs Legal Officer, said "This is not only good news for our members in Glasgow Museums, but it has wide-ranging implications in the current debate over the introduction of equal pay and single status in Scottish local government.

" Tens of thousands of council workers may be threatened with dismissal and re-engagement on worse terms and conditions as councils try to settle their equal pay debt in the next four months.

"This case shows that employers must act reasonably when changing terms and conditions ­ whether in a Best Value Review or any other situation. If necessary, UNISON will run as many dismissal cases as it takes to ensure equal pay is introduced in a reasonable manner."

Joe Di Paola UNISONıs Scottish Organiser (Bargaining) said "UNISON is in advanced negotiations over equal pay and compensation for council workers in Scotland. In addition, we are doing the ground work to ensure council workers don't pay the employers' equal pay debt though pay cuts and jobs losses. This is the benefit of the trade union approach over no-win, no-fee lawyers. Lawyers may get some equal pay compensation, but unions get equality for the future, compensation for the past, plus job security. We are pleased that UNISON has successfully challenged the unfair treatment of our members in the museums.

"Hopefully the fact that Glasgow has a new council leader and new top management since these cases were lodged, will mean a different approach to negotiating changes to conditions."

Equal pay and compensation for past discrimination is a major issue for Scottish councils with debts running into hundreds of millions of pounds. UNISON is campaigning for increased funding from the Scottish Executive in order to ensure that justified compensation is not paid for by service cuts or massively increased council tax.


For Further Information Please Contact: Peter Hunter (Legal Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 07740 167 777 (m) Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Bargaining) 0845 355 0845(w) 07958 121 861(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)