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Date: Thurs 23 Mar 2006

MSPS CALL TIME ON EQUAL PAY DEBTS

UNISON Scotland today welcomed the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee report on Equal Pay in local government calling it a stinging criticism of the failure by employers to tackle equal pay. The Finance Committee has concluded that:

In failing to tackle equal pay the local government employers were guilty of a "massive failure to engage in constructive negotiations".

The Committee were dismayed at the councils' lack of progress on pay equality. Pay equality was the employers' responsibility.

There is "extreme concern" over the slow rate of current progress.

The move away from national bargaining made no sense and increased costs and delay.

COSLA's claim about cost-neutral solutions was "hard to reconcile with the scale of cost pressures identified".

COSLA are wrong to assert that equal pay and single status are separate issues. They are "absolutely interrelated".

The Public Services Minister was wrong in deciding not to intervene.

The Scottish Executive should have attached conditions linking progress on single status to council funding.

The Executive should now enter discussions with councils to identify whether funding can be made available.

Single status must be implemented as a matter of urgency. There is no reason why it cannot be resolved within 12 months.

Commenting on the report, Peter Hunter UNISON legal officer said: "The committee report pins the blame for this £600 million travesty right where it belongs - on the leaders and managers of Scottish local authorities. The report narrates a long history of neglect but it also highlights the fact that councils are still mismanaging the situation now.

" But what the report ignores is the fact that this is not a victimless crime. Low paid women in Scotland are at least £600 million poorer now than they would have been if the councils had done their job. Poverty and hardship that is directly attributable to the mismanagement of Scottish councils. The committee's call for the Minister to look at funding issues with councils cannot be ignored. Only the Executive can move this situation forward, a point not lost on the Finance Committee or the low paid women waiting for justice."

ENDS

 

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