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Date 14 December 2006

Falkirk Strike Goes Ahead as Court Bid Fails

UNISONs attempts to avert mass dismissals and industrial action at Falkirk Council have been rejected by the Court of Session. The dismissals at the council are intended to impose revised terms and conditions which include a mixture of pay rises, pay freezes and some pay cuts.

UNISON and the GMB believe that the new terms contain significant pay discrimination between women and men and that, consequently, they are unlawful. All councils have a duty to monitor and encourage equality within their workforce and to take specific steps to ensure that their labour costs deliver Best Value for the tax payer. This legal action asked the court to suspend the new terms and conditions until such time as an equality assessment had been carried out.

However, without commenting on the existence of inequality within the council, the court said that the issue should be heard in an Employment Tribunal and not the Court of Session. In the meantime, the dismissals take effect.

Peter Hunter, UNISON legal officer said: "Employees and council tax payers in Falkirk should be concerned by the decision of the Court of Session that this question can only be asked properly in an employment tribunal. UNISON is already processing in excess of 10,000 cases and they will take years to complete. Falkirk have already paid out over £3 million in equal pay compensation and where there is inequality in the pay system the debt to employees simply accrues at a fairly attractive judicial interest rate. We would warmly welcome any opportunity to re-open talks with a view to removing what we believe to be continuing pay discrimination."

UNISON have a pre-planned demonstration for Saturday and a day of strike action planned for Monday 18th December.

Gray Allan, UNISON Branch Secretary said: "In the midst of all this the Chief Executive has said the council are willing to listen to our concerns and, if appropriate, look for agreement on specific points. That is to be welcomed, but it doesn't alter the fact that our members are being dismissed and offered discrimination and detriment under the new terms. We will demonstrate our opposition to that with a rally on Saturday and a strike on Monday"


Contact Gray Allan - UNISON Falkirk 07710528533 Peter Hunter UNISON Legal Officer 0774 016 7777