Date: 10 June 2009
UNISON demands Scottish Government action for pay equality in
UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union, has called
on SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney to face up to the challenge
of pay discrimination.
The union’s move follows the publication of the latest Scottish
Parliament investigation into equal pay, in which MSPs on the
Parliament's Local Government Committee expressed dismay at the
slow and costly progress towards pay equality and made a clear
call for action by the Scottish Government.
Peter Hunter, UNISON Scotland Regional Organiser, said: "The
Scottish Government has sat on the sidelines throughout this process
but the time has come for them to step up to the plate. This is
the third parliamentary report calling for Government action on
equal pay and the challenge can no longer be ignored."
Equal pay is widely recognised as the greatest destabilising
force to hit local government finance in recent years. Despite
compensation payments running to several hundred million pounds,
low paid public service workers are still pursuing tens of thousands
of equality claims.
Peter Hunter said: "There was no financial provision for equal
pay in the last SNP budget but the evidence of the last ten years
shows that delay and denial only escalate equal pay costs. In
England councils have access to special Treasury rules on capital
expenditure to ease the equal pay burden. In Scotland we have
had no meaningful government help – in fact employers are hounded
for cuts and efficiencies at a time when record levels of compensation
are being paid to workers."
UNISON Scotland welcomed the Committee’s recognition that single
status is still work in progress in every local authority. "Anyone
who says otherwise is out of touch and misleading the public,"
said Peter Hunter.
"UNISON rejected over 80% of the new pay systems on equality
grounds and we will continue to litigate until we get genuine
pay equality for our members."
Peter Hunter added: “What people need to remember is that every
million pounds of equal pay expenditure is a million pounds of
hardship and suffering endured by low paid women who deliver vital
public services. We have classroom assistants who teach disabled
children 30 hours per week with no supervising teacher for £10,000
per annum. And that’s before tax and national insurance. Voters
expect the Scottish Parliament to protect them from such rank
injustice. It seems the Local Government Committee agrees. It’s
time for the Scottish Government to take action now.”
For Further Information Please Contact: Peter Hunter(Regional
Organiser) 0774 016 7777 (m) Glyn Hawker (Scottish Organiser -
Bargaining & Equal Pay) - 07876 441 237 (m)
NOTES FOR EDITORS: Local Government Committee report on
Equal pay The Local Government & Communities committee of the
Scottish Parliament made the following recommendations:
• The Scottish Government should facilitate urgent talks
• Employers should pay-up where workers have a strong equal pay
• Independent pay audits should be conducted annually to drive
discrimination out of the system
• Councils need more money and the Government need to come up
with a package including capitalisation
Press Release: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/nmCentre/news/news-comm-09/clgc09-s3-003.htm
Committee Report http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/lgc/reports-09/lgr09-12.htm
UNISON's submission to Local Government Committee In submissions
to the Committee UNISON Scotland called on MSPs to:
• Press the Finance Secretary to reconsider the funding required
to close the pay gap. The Committee has called on the Government
to clarify their position.
• Press the Finance Secretary to establish capitalisation as
a finance option and set out criteria against which applications
can be made. The Committee has echoed that call.
• Press the Chancellor and the Finance Secretary to permit local
authorities to offset equal pay costs, in whole or in part, against
their share of any efficiency target. We are extremely disappointed
that councils appear to be expected to increase seconding on equal
pay while slashing services at the same time.
• Set a timetable for local government to implement single status
in a way that eliminates discrimination and brings the repeated
rounds of equal pay compensation to an end. The committee has
called on the Government to facilitate talks designed to deliver
• Invite Audit Scotland to review its Audit Methodology in a
way that gives equality auditing the weight that is required by
the Best Value regime.
UNISON are delighted that the Committee has called for a new
equality audit system to embedded into Audit Scotland’s revised
Best Value scheme.
You can find the full UNISON Scotland Submission to the Scottish
Parliament Local Government and Communities Committee in March
2009 at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/equalpaymarch09.html