UNISON North Lanarkshire branch view North Lanarkshire Councils public statement of 20/11/14 on Equal Pay as misleading.

The branch completely reject the Councils allegations that we have somehow been a barrier to our members equal pay claims being settled. Quite simply put, this is not true.

If the Council wants to talk to us about an offer to our members that is remotely close to the worth of their claims we are, and always will be, happy to talk.

It is also surprising to us that the Council refers to ongoing negotiations on the Councils previous proposal. Negotiations have been suspended until such times as the Council contacts us to advise that they have an offer that is worth talking about.

We were further surprised by the reference to the £35 million already paid as evidence of good will on the part of the Council. The payment of £35 million is evidence of past discrimination by the Council in the period 1999 to 2006. Those “first wave” claims took years to resolve, and for some women they remain unresolved. Our members have died waiting for the council to meet its binding legal obligations.

With regards to our planned protests at Councillor Surgeries, our view is quite clear – that the power to authorise equal pay compensation rests solely with elected members.

These protests, relate to a second and subsequent dispute (known to some as second wave claims), and it is now a matter of public record that, among other things, council officials reduced the job evaluation scores of low paid women, destroyed job evaluation records and misled the Equal Opportunities Commission when it examined the council’s pay system. Although the evidence on the EOC point has yet to conclude, the evidence to date is that the council has “no satisfactory explanation” for the decision to mislead the EOC.

Against that background, we would ask the Council if they could point us to their actions in the current dispute which might instil amongst our members the trust, confidence, and patience they are asking us to display in calling off the protest.

For the avoidance of any doubt, UNISON North Lanarkshire view the unlawful removal of £135m from low paid families in North Lanarkshire as sufficiently serious to merit a place in the queue at council surgeries. We are not satisfied that elected members are fully aware of the misconduct of council officials admitted before the tribunal and summarised above. So, when elected members come to exercise their exclusive authority to pay compensation, we are rightly keen to ensure they have direct access to all of the facts.

Our campaign extends beyond compensation for unequal pay. We have related concerns about the conduct of officials in public office. In addition to equality we are aiming for transparency and accountability. Objectives that will benefit all vulnerable groups who attend council surgeries in North Lanarkshire, not just low paid workers.

For those reasons we view the protests as serving a wider public purpose than the immediate and legitimate goal of pay equality. We look forward to seeing you all at the surgeries.

John Mooney
Branch Secretary