Date: Fri 30 Dec 2005
Privatising jobs to avoid equal pay will spark major union reaction
Scotland's biggest union for local council workers,
UNISON, today warned local councils not to turn to outsourcing jobs
to avoid low pay responsibilities, or face concerted union action.
Edinburgh City Council is considering outsourcing a large number
of jobs that are likely to be eligible for compensation payments
for previous discrimination. The council claims that the cost of
paying up is unaffordable without major cuts or council tax rises.
UNISON locally has already notified the council of
1700 equal pay claims covering staff in catering, social and domicilary
care and cleaning posts.
"Just as UNISON has warned throughout the negotiations
on equal pay at UK, Scottish and local level, unless the whole staff
is dealt with, and a negotiated agreement arrived at, and unless
costs are funded, some employers may be tempted to try and avoid
their legal responsibilities." said Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish
" It is particularly concerning that a large council,
like Edinburgh should try and wriggle out of their responsibilities
by casting low paid workers adrift in the private sector, rather
than working with the trade union to both come to a fair negotiated
settlement and joining with other councils and the trade unions
to campaign for the Scottish Executive to face up to their responsibilities
and fund efforts to Close the Gap in Scotland's local councils -
as the government is doing in the health service."
The Equal Opportunities Commission have recently reported
that the gender gap is worse in the private sector, and UNISON finds
it hypocritical for a supposedly equal opportunities employer to
be considering privatising already low paid staff simply to avoid
its commitment to pay fair wages
'Unfortunately, all attempts to privatise jobs will
do is alienate staff, lead to increases in Tribunal cases and possible
industrial action." Said Matt Smith.
"We will not stand by and allow members to be thrown
to the wolves. The only reason to outsource jobs in this way is
to further discriminate against these low paid women. Council's
know that in-house staff are best value, and they know they provide
the best service. We call on Edinburgh and any other council that
may be considering this to think again, and call on the Scottish
Executive to assist councils in facing up to their equality commitments.
For Further Information Please Contact: Matt
Smith (Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 997 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)