Saturday, 25 April 2015

North Lanarkshire Update

I am re-publishing five posts from the blog site from December 2007 which readers from North Lanarkshire will find of particular interest because they deal with the way in which the Council introduced a new job evaluation scheme (JES) and new pay arrangements covering all former Manual Worker and APT&C staff.

Both measures were key and outstanding requirements of the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement which the Scottish council employers and the trade unions had signed up to a full eight years previously, yet nothing happened until A4ES appeared on the scene and explained the huge and hidden pay differences between traditional male and female jobs.

As regular readers know, North Lanarkshire's JES and the new pay arrangements which flowed from the JES were subsequently found to be discriminatory by the Employment Tribunals.

But Action 4 Equality Scotland has been saying so on the blog site for the past eight years and it gives me enormous pleasure all these years later to point out that we've been proved right all along. 

NLC Update (05/12/2007)

After months of delay and foot dragging by the council, things are now beginning to hot up in North Lanarkshire - more to follow including news from the Employment Tribunals - but here's a brief summary of events so far.

In February/March 2006, North Lanarkshire tried to persuade its workforce into accepting a new pay and grading structure. Rather oddly, management and trade unions were singing from exactly the same hymn sheet - that is until Action 4 Equality arrived on the scene and explained to people that they were being sold a pig in a poke.

The proposed deal blew up in disarray- as angry North Lanarkshire workers voted the scheme down by an overwhelming majority - after a series of workplace meetings and secret ballot. 

In the summer of 2006, council managers announced they would press ahead anyway - by imposing the package over people's heads and despite having lost a vote - that was so vital to their plans just months earlier. 

A key part of the package was a new was a new Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) which assessed, ranked and graded all North Lanarkshire Council jobs - but to this day the JES has never been agreed by the workforce or the trade unions.

In November 2006, the council introduced its new pay and grading structure - resulting in several hundred additional unfair dismissal claims (on top of existing equal pay claims) - because the council was imposing a new contract of employment - without the agreement of its employees.

The council then gave each employee details of the new grading structure - but only on a personal and individual basis - crucial information about how other council jobs had fared was deliberately withheld . 

Why? Because the management wanted to prevent people from understanding how other jobs (especially the male jobs) had done out of the re-grading exercise - after all the employers and trade unions had been keeping low paid women workers in the dark for years.

In terms of the new JES, the council and the unions were cooking the books (behind the scenes) to protect the interests of the traditional bonus earning - and predominantly male - jobs. Now North Lanarkshire is boasting about the millions of pounds they've saved - compared to other councils - and all because they've got such a cosy relationship with their trade unions
But now these chickens are coming home to roost - because the new North Lanarkshire grading structure shows that many of the key female dominated jobs have done very badly - surprise, surprise - compared the their male counterparts.

Over the next week or so we will publish some of the more glaring examples of the many women's jobs that have been scored poorly and come out badly - while other male jobs have sailed through the process completely unscathed. 

Watch this space - more to follow.

Job Evaluation 3 (10/12/2007)

As well as manipulating job evaluation results at the lower end of the scale, North Lanarkshire's scheme does exactly the same as it moves up through the new pay and grading structure.

Take grade NLC 6. Now this is not a very high grade - nor does it pay a king's ransom - but it does epitomise how male and female jobs have been treated so very differently - under a scheme that was intended to improve the position of many women's jobs - which had been undervalued for years.

Some Traditional Male Jobs on NLC 6
Cleansing Chargehand
Estates Maintenance Worker 4
Gardener 3
Gravedigger 3
Chargehand Estate Worker
Driver 2 (Refuse Driver)

Now all of these people carry out vital and important jobs - and no one is demeaning the work they do - the real issue is why are they treated so differently?

Because if the truth be told - all of these jobs are old-fashioned manual worker jobs that have existed for years - jobs that were graded at no more than Manual Worker 4 under the old grading structure - jobs that were on a lower grade than a Home Carer, Cook or even a School Janitor.

Yet, there are female dominated jobs by the barrow load - which require much more in terms of skill, responsibility or qualifications than the male jobs - but the women's jobs have just been stuck on the same grade (NLC 6) or, in many cases, even lower grades. Here are some examples:

Female Dominated Jobs on NLC 6
Catering Manager
Social Care Worker
Admin/Finance Assistant

How can these jobs possibly be regarded as doing work of the same value as a Refuse Driver or Gravedigger?

Female Dominated Jobs on NLC 5
Senior Clerk
Library Resource Centre Supervisor
Senior Creche Worker
Project Administrator

How can these jobs possibly be regarded as doing work of less value than a Refuse Driver or Gravedigger?

Female Jobs on NLC 4
Classroom Assistant
Community Warden
Care Support Worker
Bus Escort
Word Processing Supervisor
SEN Assistant

How can these jobs possibly be regarded as doing work of less value than a Refuse Driver or Gravedigger? 

So, the upshot is that North Lanarkshire is getting away with murder - its job evaluation scheme is shot full of holes and contradictions - and women workers are still treated less favourably than the men.

Job Evaluation 2 (10/12/2007)

Even more mysterious than the Cleaners' grading (see post dated 6 December) - is the way in which many other female dominated jobs have fared under North Lanarkshire's Job Evaluation Scheme (JES).

Take a Refuse Collector - another important, but essentially unskilled job that require virtually no training and carries little responsibility - and of course it's done overwhelmingly by men whose bonus payments are being protected by the council for years into the future.

Before the JES - Refuse Collectors were on a relatively low grade of Manual Worker (MW) 2 - much lower than a Home Help, for example, whose job was graded at MW 5.

But after the JES - Refuse Collectors have been placed on NLC 3 under the new pay and grading system - putting them on a par with a huge number of female dominated jobs - jobs that clearly require much greater levels of skill and responsibility.

What are these jobs? 

Home Support Worker, Catering Assistant, Clerical Assistant, Creche Worker and Warden - to name just some of the female dominated jobs that are now deemed to be equivalent to an unskilled male post.

Anyone who knows anything about the refuse collection service - knows that the job has changed dramatically over the years. What might once have been regarded as a heavy manual job - has been made much easier by the introduction of wheelie bins - not just in Lanarkshire, but throughout Scotland.

But the exact opposite is true of many of the female dominated jobs - far from getting easier or less demanding - they've had all kinds of extra duties and responsibilities added - and often for no additional pay or reward.

Just think how much the job of a Home Carer has changed in the last 10 years - as community care has been introduced - the level of care and support provided by Home Carers has increased enormously - to keep vulnerable people living independently in their own homes.

But in North Lanarkshire many of these vital female dominated jobs have been placed on a par with refuse collection - when it's as plain as can be face that they are worth much more.

Yet again - North Lanarkshire's JES comes up trumps for the male dominated jobs - destroying any claim that the scheme is remotely fair or even-handed.

More to follow - Job Evaluation 3 coming soon!

Job Evaluation 1 (06/12/2007)

Hands up! 

How many employees of North Lanarkshire Council believe that their new Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) has been applied fairly, consistently and in a manner that rewards people properly for the jobs they do?

Well, very few it seems if our feedback is anything to go by - probably just the senior managers whose jobs were conveniently left outside the scope of the JES - and of course the local union reps who negotiated and urged members to accept the scheme when it was first proposed. 

Take the lowest grade in the new pay structure - NLC 1 - as it has been imaginatively called.

By a truly amazing coincidence this grade has been solely and exclusively reserved for the job of Cleaner - needless to say a job done overwhelmingly by low paid women workers.

Now a Cleaner does a very important job - as do many other council employees - including Road Sweepers which, as everyone knows, is a traditional male and bonus earning job.

Before North Lanarkshire's allegedly fairer JES - Cleaners and Road Sweepers were on exactly the same grade - Manual Worker (MW) 1 in old money.

But after the JES (for reasons no one can explain) - the male Road Sweepers have been awarded the higher grade of NLC 2 - while all the women Cleaners have ended up at the bottom of the heap on NLC 1.

Something smells very fishy here - how can that possibly happen - without a good old fashioned bit of jiggery pokery?

Because the job of a Cleaner is hard, heavy work - no less arduous certainly than a Road Sweeper - and arguably the Cleaner carries more responsibility for ensuring high standards in important public areas - school toilets, for example.

So, how can Cleaners possibly end up on the lowest grade - with no male group to keep them company? The answer is that the council has engineered the results to keep the costs of equal pay down. 
But it was never intended to work that way - Single Status was supposed to be fairer to many of the female dominated jobs which had been undervalued and underpaid for years.

What should people do? They should appeal their grades - demand to see the detailed scores of other male jobs - and register an equal pay claim, if they've not already done so.

If the unions had any guts, they'd be lodging mass appeals on behalf of all North Lanarkshire Cleaners - but the unions are really part of the problem, as many ordinary members now realise. 

More to follow - Job Evaluation 2 coming soon!

NLC Update (11/12/2007)

Contrary to popular belief, North Lanarkshire has not made a mess of its Job Evaluation Scheme (JES). 

Oh no, the reality is actually much worse than that because the council has set out , quite deliberately, to treat many women workers less favourably than men in traditional male jobs - see posts dated 6 and 10 December 2007.

Senior managers have a lot to answer for - and so too do the trade unions - because they've sat on the sidelines and failed to explain what's been going on to their own members. 

Sadly, the unions have kept a lid on things - kept their heads down - when their members needed practical advice and strong leadership. 

What should people do now?
  1. Appeal and challenge you grade - if you feel it undervalues your job
  2. Demand to know how all NLC jobs have been scored - especially traditional male jobs
  3. Submit an equal pay claim as well as an internal appeal - this will take your case outside of the council - to an independent Employment Tribunal
The bottom line is don't take things lying down. 

Get organised - in small or large groups - and use the information on the Action 4 Equality web site - to challenge the way the Job Evaluation Scheme has been introduced.

Here Be Dragons!

Image result for here be dragons + images

Just the other day I was given a fantastic present, an amazing 'Dragon's Egg' from my favourite chocolate-maker, Edward & Irwyn, based in Edinburgh.

Now my Dragon's Egg could have come straight from the set of The Hobbit movie featuring  Benedict Cumberbatch as the Smaug the Dragon or an episode of the hugely successful Game of Thrones.

But wherever the inspiration has come from the end result tastes as good as it looks and is a great gift idea for chocolate lovers of all ages. 

The kitchen, transformed by PYRUS into a magical Easter shop.

Edward & Irwyn can be contacted via the internet at: - or at 21 Morningside Drive, Edinburgh, EH10 5LZ.

Edward & Irwyn's sales pitch is "Trained in France but inspired by the North" and the slogan captures perfectly what they're all about.