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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
BARGAIN BRIEF July 2006 No 25
Topical news for activists and staff  
bargain brief is

...a publication from the Policy & Information Team. It aims to provide a concise and topical news service for activists and staff engaged in representing and bargaining on behalf of UNISON members in Scotland.

Recognising that not all activists have the access or time to read detailed information we hope this summary format will be helpful.

Further information on any of the news items below is available from the P&I Team and we welcome feedback on any aspect of this service.

Contacts list:
Fiona Montgomery f.montgomery@unison.co.uk

Kenny MacLaren k.maclaren@unison.co.uk

Kay Sillars k.sillars@unison.co.uk

Diane Anderson diane.anderson@unison.co.uk

Kevin O'Neil k.oneil@unison.co.uk

Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk

P&I Team 14 West Campbell Street Glasgow G2 6RX Tel: 0845 355 0845
Fax: 0141 221 8953


-Call for Race Equality Collective Bargaining
Union Members' 17.6% Pay Differential
- Disciplinary & Grievance Cases Tripled
- Pay Settlements at 3%
- National Minimum Wage Up in October

Equality at Work
- Work and Families Act 2006
Age Discrimination Banned from October
- Redundancy Scheme May Be Unlawful
Employers Recruit Older Workers

Health & Safety
- Mesothelioma Action
- Work Ill Health Higher than Official Stats
- Safety Inspections Plummet

- Workplace Violence

- New balls for Murray please…Time for Equal Pay at Wimbledon.

Click here for previous Bargain Briefs




Employment Rights


Health & Safety

Mesothelioma Action

The Scottish Parliament has voted for legislation to overturn a recent House of Lords ruling which cut compensation payments to mesothelioma sufferers and their families. The House of Commons is expected to follow suit soon. Unions welcomed the news but are calling for the changes to be retrospective.

The May ruling on the Compensation Bill meant that thousands of victims of the asbestos-related cancer would not receive a full pay-out. The Scottish Executive has also pledged another Bill to ensure families don't lose out if a settlement is reached before the claimant's death. Des McNulty MSP welcomed the move and withdrew his proposed legislation.

Work Ill Health Higher than Official Stats

Three surveys suggest that work-related ill-health is far higher than the levels on which the Health and Safety Executive bases occupational health strategies and measurement of their impact. The HSE uses the Labour force survey as a benchmark. It says that 1 in 20 adults (5%) has a work-related health problem. But its own Workplace Health and Safety Survey said work-related ill-health could be more than double that. Meanwhile the British Social Attitudes Survey found 15% of those who worked in the previous 12 months had a work-related health problem. And in the European Working Conditions Survey 60% said work affects their health.

Safety Inspections Plummet

Hazards magazine reported on previously unpublished figures from the Health & Safety Executive showing that visits to firms by safety inspectors fell by over a quarter between 2002-03. Unions warned that negligent employers can risk their workers' health and safety, knowing they will be unlikely to have an HSE visit more than once in 13 years.

Workplace Violence

Training health staff to deal with violence at work needs to be based on day-to-day situations to be effective, according to University of Nottingham research, funded by the HSE. It said poorly thought out training could have a negative effect on staff. Training should be: broader than focusing on individual competence; closely allied to perceived need; and must clearly demonstrate a proactive organisational response to workplace violence. www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr440.pdf


Bargaining issues

A TUC report on Black Women and Employment urges unions to establish collective bargaining on race equality to overcome discrimination against women from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. BME women are more likely to be unemployed or economically inactive than any other labour market group. ILO unemployment rates for black and Asian women are 5.4% and 4.8% respectively, compared with 2.9% for white women. In work BME women are concentrated in low-paid, low-status jobs and more likely than white women to be in temporary posts.

The report says collective bargaining is key to tackling the double discrimination faced by black women. It also calls for public procurement to be used to boost the employment of BME women, equality of access to workplace training, childcare and free ESOL courses. It is at: www.tuc.org.uk/extras/bwae.pdf

Union Members' 17.6% Pay Differential

A Department of Trade and Industry report on trade union membership shows that hourly earnings for members in autumn 2005 were 17.6% more than for non-union employees, at an average £11.98, compared to £10.19. This is up from a 17.1% difference in 2004.

Women's union membership rose by 0.9% to 29.9% while for men it fell by 0.3% to 28.2% of employees. The gender difference is now statistically significant.

Northern Ireland has the highest union density at 40.4%. Scotland is at 33.7%, up from 33.2%. Union density in Wales is 34.3% and 27.9% in England. Overall union density increased to 29% for employees, but the total number of trade union members fell by 1.9% to 6.39 million. In the public sector collective agreements covered 71% of workers, more than three times the private sector rate.

Disciplinary & Grievance Cases Tripled

Employers say that the number of disciplinary and grievance cases they have dealt with has nearly tripled in a year. IRS Employment Review surveyed 155 employers who reported an average 66 disciplinary cases and 19 grievance cases each in the last two years. It follows the new statutory disputes procedure introduced in October 2004. A small majority (58%) said the new procedures had made it easier for them to settle disputes effectively. The number of employment tribunal applications against the employers has risen slightly. The report said it may be that individual workplace disputes are being managed more effectively, with more grievances raised formally and more disciplinary issues being dealt with rather than avoided.

Pay Settlements at 3%

Pay awards for January to May 2006 stand at 3%. Headline inflation, based on the RPI, was 3% in May, up from 2.6% in April. Underlying inflation, excluding mortgage interest payments, rose from 2.4% in April to 2.9% in May. The Consumer Prices Index, the government-preferred inflation measure, also rose from 2% in April to 2.2% for January to May.

National Minimum Wage Up in October

The National Minimum Wage for adults rises from £5.05 to £5.35 on 1st October. The rate for 18-21 yr-olds goes up from £4.25 to £4.45 and for 16-17 yr-olds the new figure is £3.30, up from £3 per hour.


Workplace Issues



Work and Families Act 2006

The government says thousands of working parents will benefit from the new Act's provisions which extend maternity pay and paternity leave and give flexible rights for people caring for elderly or sick relatives. Details at: www.unison.org.uk/worklifebalance/news_view.asp?did=2324

Age Discrimination Banned from October

New age discrimination legislation comes into effect in October. ACAS has produced new guidance for employers: Age and the Workplace - Putting the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 into Practice. Go to: www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/s/3/Age_and_the_Workplace.pdf

Redundancy Scheme May Be Unlawful

Questions have been raised about whether civil servants' redundancy arrangements comply with the new regulations on age discrimination. If not, many other employers who have based their enhanced redundancy schemes on the civil service one could face discrimination claims. The Cabinet Office is to review the government's redundancy scheme.

The PCS union warned against watering down terms and conditions. The new regulations amend the system for entitlement to statutory redundancy payments. Schemes which offer enhanced versions, using different age bands and multipliers to calculate payments, have to be objectively justified.

Employers Recruit Older Workers

In a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 70% of employers said they are actively recruiting workers aged between 55 and pension age. They are looking for key skills and to comply with the new legislation.



New balls for Murray please…Time for Equal Pay at Wimbledon.

Martina Navratilova told Jonathan Ross she would strike for equal pay at Wimbledon. The new head of the Lawn Tennis Association backs it, as do John McEnroe, Tony Blair and Jack McConnell. The men's champion wins £655,000 while the women's champion receives £625,000. Scots hope Andy Murray justifies this, saying men play five sets not three, but that hasn't been a barrier for the US and Australian Opens and the French introduced parity for the top prizes this year. You cannot be serious Andy.




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