Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Union Bombshell



So here is the document I referred to earlier today which must come as rather a big  bombshell to Unison members in South Lanarkshire. 

Now there are so many dumb things about this report that it's difficult to know where to start, but let's kick off in the first sentence where the genius who wrote this nonsense manages to spell Stefan Cross's name incorrectly.

Attention to detail is very important, in my view, because if people get the simple things wrong, then they are much more likely to screw up when it comes to the big issues as well.

Which means that this is probably a good time to say that Stefan Cross has never employed a 'competence initiative adviser' and so where this particular piece of nonsense comes from is also a mystery. 

But on to matters of more substance and, specifically, to Unison's claim that South Lanarkshire Council had agreed to "settle with all council employees should the lose the ET (Employment Tribunal). The Council are drafting an agreement."

Now I have to say this is exactly what I recall at the time, i.e. that Unison was actively discouraging its members from pursue equal pay claims with Action 4 Equality Scotland, or anyone else, because the union claimed to have reached an agreement with the Council which meant that all SLC employees would benefit, if A4ES won at the Employment Tribunal.

In effect, Unison's message to members in South Lanarkshire was that they had no need to take up an equal pay claim against the Council because everything was nicely sewn up - there was already a done deal.

Yet any Unison member following this advice has lost out substantially because by 2009 lots of Action 4 Equality Scotland clients had already had their equal pay claims registered for four years. And even then it was still some time (months, perhaps years) before Unison began submitting cases of its own. 

As if that's not enough, we then have the final sentence of the document which states clearly and explicitly that Unison's campaign of "inviting people people to come back to the union to fight their equal pay claims....does not apply to South Lanarkshire."

So you can't get much more categorical than that because the union's position is stated in black and white, on behalf of the whole Unison branch.

I imagine that the 'Stephen' referred to in the document is Stephen Smellie, the Unison branch secretary and although I don't know who 'Margaret' is, I'm sure these two individuals will have a lot of explaining to do in the days ahead. 

For my part, I'm just glad to help union members put their local history straight, to coin a phrase, although I would dearly love to know what happened to the much vaunted Unison agreement with South Lanarkshire Council. 

As an old friend of mine was fond of saying: "It's probably not worth the paper it wasn't written on."      


South Lanarkshire Unison Branch Council - 9 June 2009.

Agenda Item 9 - Equal Pay

Stephen advised that Stephan (sic) Cross had now employed a competence initiative adviser and claims against the Council had been delayed and would probably take place later in the year. Stephen and Margaret had attended a meeting with the QC and had gone back to Corporate seeking confirmation that they will settle with all council employees should they lose the ET. The Council are drafting an agreement. It was noted that although Unison is running a campaign inviting people to come back to the union to fight their equal pay claims, this does not apply to South Lanarkshire.  

Rewriting History (2)



I wrote the other day about the Unison branch is South Lanarkshire trying to rewrite history over the union's shameful role in the fight for equal pay.

The words below come from Facebook and the comments are directed at a Unison member while the 'author' is an, as yet, unnamed person who appears to be speaking on behalf of the local Unison branch. 

Now I don't know for sure who wrote these words, but I imagine they must be familiar to the Unison branch secretary Stephen Smellie, whose job it is to know what's going on and what is being said or done in the name of the union locally.  

But you know what? 

The 'history' referred to by Unison on Facebook in 2015 is a load of drivel and is flatly contradicted by an illuminating document I have in my possession which is a written report from the Unison Branch Council dating back to 2009 - the covering letter has the reference BR/COUN/SS/JT.

I plan to share the details of this document on the blog site later today and I imagine the contents will be of great assistance to members in South Lanarkshire who are now intent on  holding Unison and its branch officers to account for their behaviour.     

Unison South Lanarkshire

Margaret, if you attended any of the meetings over the years or read any of our briefings you will know the history. We are often misquoted. It was not a case of "never" or "not entitled". Originally UNISON took claims in every other Council except SLC because SLC had the defence of a job evaluation scheme that in those days other Councils didn't have. That position was kept under review as equal pay issues and legal arguments evolved. In 2010 we wrote to all members inviting them to apply for a merit assessment & took cases against SLC thereafter, but not everyone who applied had a case that would win. 

Rewriting History (1)



A kind reader has sent me this completely ridiculous statement about the fight for equal pay in South Lanarkshire.

But who is responsible for writing this load of old tosh?

I promise to let you know tomorrow once I've managed to stop laughing at the notion that the author is trying to give a factual account of the trade unions role in relation to equal pay.

So far from being misquoted it seems to me that Unison is trying to rewrite history over its advice to members on pursuing what were, of course, perfectly valid equal pay claims against South Lanarkshire Council.

"Margaret, if you attended any of the meetings over the years or read any of our briefings you will know the history. We are often misquoted. It was not a case of "never" or "not entitled". Originally UNISON took claims in every other Council except SLC because SLC had the defence of a job evaluation scheme that in those days other Councils didn't have. That position was kept under review as equal pay issues and legal arguments evolved. In 2010 we wrote to all members inviting them to apply for a merit assessment & took cases against SLC thereafter, but not everyone who applied had a case that would win."


Now this really is a load of bollix and I'll explain why tomorrow once I've managed to compose myself. 

**Stop Press**



Action 4 Equality Scotland is pleased to announce that arrangements have been agreed for HBJ Gateley to take over the representation of A4ES clients, with immediate effect, as far as future work at the Employment Tribunals is concerned. 

HBJ Gateley is a large and highly respected law firm, one of the most successful in Scotland, and the arrangements with A4ES follow on from those made previously with Stefan Cross Solicitors, Fox Cross Solicitors and Fox and Partners Solicitors.

I have personal experience of working with HBJ Gateley in the past and I am confident that A4ES clients will continue to receive the same first class level of service they are entitled to expect. 

More information will follow in the days ahead, but as I said in an earlier post to the blog site there is no need for A4ES clients to do anything at this stage - other than to sit tight.

Breaking News (17/08/15)

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I've had a few enquiries today from readers who are a bit confused about letters they have received from Fox and Partners Solicitors which is ceasing to practice at the end of this month.

The position is that Fox and Partners (FAP) is the latest in a line of law firms which Action 4 Equality Scotland has instructed to represent our clients interests at Employment Tribunal hearings, the others being Stefan Cross Solicitors and Fox Cross Solicitors. 

So all former equal pay clients of FAP continue to be clients of Action 4 Equality Scotland and A4ES will take responsibility for any further legal instructions that may be necessary, as far as future tribunal proceedings are concerned. 

As such, A4ES clients do not need to look for new solicitors themselves and, in fact, they should not do so as any new solicitor will charge for their services.

In other words there is no need for A4ES clients to do anything at this stage, other than to sight tight because A4ES will be in touch as soon as there are any developments to report.

So, please spread the word and let other A4ES clients know the score, especially those without access to the blog site via the internet. 


Breaking News (17/08/15)

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Everyone at Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) is sorry to hear that Fox and Partners Solicitors (FAP) is ceasing to practice from the end of August 2015, due to internal issues within the firm and personal matters on the part of Carol Fox.

Not least because the relationship between A4ES and FAP has proved to be very productive in recent times with landmark settlements being achieved in North Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Council, for example.

Regular readers of the blog site will be aware that the work involved in representing A4ES clients at the Employment Tribunals was carried out previously by Stefan Cross Solicitors and Fox Cross Solicitors before being transferred to FAP in 2010/11.

Action 4 Equality Scotland is in the process of making arrangements for this work to be carried forward in a way which maintains the high quality of service our clients have come to expect over the years.

So at the moment there is absolutely no need for A4ES clients to do anything other than sit tight and await further developments.

In the meantime we would like to place on record our appreciation to the staff at FAP and our best wishes for the future.

One thing is for sure though: Stefan Cross and Mark Irvine will both be continuing the fight for equal pay in Scotland, a campaign which they and Action 4 Equality Scotland first began in August 2005, a full 10 years ago this month.     

Rewriting History (2)



I wrote the other day about the Unison branch is South Lanarkshire trying to rewrite history over the union's shameful role in the fight for equal pay.

The words below come from Facebook and the comments are directed at a Unison member while the 'author' is an, as yet, unnamed person who appears to be speaking on behalf of the local Unison branch. 

Now I don't know for sure who wrote these words, but I imagine they must be familiar to the Unison branch secretary Stephen Smellie, whose job it is to know what's going on and what is being said or done in the name of the union locally.  

But you know what? 

The 'history' referred to by Unison on Facebook in 2015 is a load of drivel and is flatly contradicted by an illuminating document I have in my possession which is a written report from the Unison Branch Council dating back to 2009 - the covering letter has the reference BR/COUN/SS/JT.

I plan to share the details of this document on the blog site later today and I imagine the contents will be of great assistance to members in South Lanarkshire who are now intent on  holding Unison and its branch officers to account for their behaviour.     

Unison South Lanarkshire

Margaret, if you attended any of the meetings over the years or read any of our briefings you will know the history. We are often misquoted. It was not a case of "never" or "not entitled". Originally UNISON took claims in every other Council except SLC because SLC had the defence of a job evaluation scheme that in those days other Councils didn't have. That position was kept under review as equal pay issues and legal arguments evolved. In 2010 we wrote to all members inviting them to apply for a merit assessment & took cases against SLC thereafter, but not everyone who applied had a case that would win.

Rewriting History (1)



A kind reader has sent me this completely ridiculous statement about the fight for equal pay in South Lanarkshire.

But who is responsible for writing this load of old tosh?

I promise to let you know tomorrow once I've managed to stop laughing at the notion that the author is trying to give a factual account of the trade unions role in relation to equal pay.

So far from being misquoted it seems to me that Unison is trying to rewrite history over its advice to members on pursuing what were, of course, perfectly valid equal pay claims against South Lanarkshire Council.

"Margaret, if you attended any of the meetings over the years or read any of our briefings you will know the history. We are often misquoted. It was not a case of "never" or "not entitled". Originally UNISON took claims in every other Council except SLC because SLC had the defence of a job evaluation scheme that in those days other Councils didn't have. That position was kept under review as equal pay issues and legal arguments evolved. In 2010 we wrote to all members inviting them to apply for a merit assessment & took cases against SLC thereafter, but not everyone who applied had a case that would win."


Now this really is a load of bollix and I'll explain why tomorrow once I've managed to compose myself. 

Oliver Sacks, RIP

Image result for oliver sacks + images

The Guardian carried a great tribute to Oliver Sacks the other day, a man whose work I have admired and enjoyed over the years, and who tried to live life to the full even in the face of his own mortality.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/30/oliver-sacks-dies-aged-82-eminent-neurologist-author-awakenings

Now that's not a chance everyone gets, but it's a good or a least a better way to go if you ask me.