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Date: Friday 11 April 2014

UNISON members in South Lanarkshire Council continue their campaign for equal pay

UNISON Scotland is writing to 6000 UNISON members who work in South Lanarkshire Council to give them another opportunity to make a new claim for equal pay.

The trade union believes that some staff may not be receiving the same pay as those in other job groups who do work of equal value. If that proves to be the case, UNISON will argue that their pay should be increased now, and any shortfall over the past 5 years should be paid as back pay.

Staff who may be eligible include home carers, caterers, cleaners, nursery nurses and school support assistants.

South Lanarkshire was the first council in Scotland to bring women and men together under a single status pay system, however UNISON’s experts believe that the South Lanarkshire scheme does not comply fully with subsequent advances in equality law.

Commenting on this latest action, Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish secretary, said:

“UNISON’s wants a long term settlement that is fair to all. We recognise it’s a difficult task to compare very different jobs; that is why legal claims take so many years to decide. However UNISON is committed to negotiating improvements with the council so that our members do not have to wait years for pay equality”

“The South Lanarkshire single status scheme, as it presently exists and is being applied, cannot reliably deliver pay equality between men and women. We are supporting UNISON members to take legal action and will continue to support new claims until we are fully satisfied that pay inequality has been properly addressed and we will try and resolve cases as quickly as we can”

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish secretary, also said:

“We would ask our members to read the letter from UNISON Scotland very carefully. It is important that our members understand the legal process and why we are supporting them to take this action. It is particularly important that they know the time limits for submitting information. If members want to be eligible the first stage is to submit forms to UNISON, within the time limits, so we can assess their claim”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s leading pursuer of equal pay claims

2. Job evaluation schemes are now in place across all Scottish Councils and UNISON commissioned a series of expert reports into these local pay arrangements. As in other areas, our work in South Lanarkshire identified some specific concerns.

3. UNISON believes, and the Employment Tribunal agreed, that South Lanarkshire Council Scheme (555 Scheme), as it presently exists and is applied, cannot reliably deliver pay equality between men and women employed by the Council. That is why we are supporting members to take claims and will continue to support new claims until we are satisfied that pay inequality has been addressed.

4. The Equality Act 2010 offers employers a complete defence to all equal value claims if they can show they operate an equality proofed pay system. The Employment Tribunal judgment in South Lanarkshire decided that the Council could not rely on that defence. All claims must now be assessed on an individual basis and individual claims can be defended where the employer can justify individual pay differences in a non-discriminatory way.

5. UNISON Scotland’s campaign for transparency and continuous improvement in pay equality relies on the mandatory provisions of The Equality Act 2010 (Statutory Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 which require: the proactive elimination of pay inequality; publication of an equal pay policy; annual publication of the pay gap between women and men; publication of target outcomes for pay equality; involvement of workers in the delivery of pay equality; gathering of evidence of progress on pay equality; and biennial publication of reports on progress towards pay equality.

For further information please contact:

• Mike Kirby, Scottish secretary, 0739143355
• Danny Phillips, UNISON Scotland’s communications officer, 0141 342 2877 / 07944664110



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