The biggest single issue the Branch dealt with was negotiations
on a new pay & reward scheme for all members employed by the
City of Edinburgh Council.
This will replace the existing, separate schemes for Manual
and APT&C staff and will cover basic pay as well as overtime
rates and associated enhancements.
The overall deal was agreed with the Scottish employers in
1999 following a ballot of members. It included a reduced working
week for manual workers, a single equality-proof pay scale,
common conditions and the need for all jobs in local government
to be evaluated under an agreed scheme.
To assist in implementation, we in Scotland agreed to a phased
implementation by 2002. It soon became clear that employers
had done nothing and they postponed to 2004 when again the job
evaluation did not materialise.
The result is that many staff who could have benefitted, especially
the low paid, are still not being paid what they should be.
It also means that possible 2,000 staff would have good equal
pay claims which could involve back payment compensation for
up to five years. The best way to ensure equal pay and protect
jobs is through a proper job evaluation scheme and a negotiated
settlement whereby members get their legal rights but also that
people who may be worse of receive some level of protection.
That is why negotiations are so essential and we were glad
to eventually get the Council round the table. Negotiations
have centred on the introduction of a new Job Evaluation Scheme
covering all staff which can deliver equal pay for work of equal
This will require all jobs to be evaluated to ensure that
posts which score equal points are paid at the same rate. Currently
many posts, e.g. cleaners, cooks, home helps etc, may score
the same points under job evaluation but do not earn the same
as their male colleagues mainly due to bonus being paid.
In the absence of significant progress in negotiations and
to protect members, the Branch has lodged over 1,700 grievances
on behalf of members who may have an equal pay complaint against
the City Council. More will follow.
A consequence of this will be that existing bonus schemes which
are not productivity based will be ended to ensure that the
new single pay and reward scheme delivers equal pay for work
of equal value.
As a consequence we have discussed protection arrangements
with Council and the Council is currently proposing that there
will a three year protection period for staff who are downgraded
as a result of job evaluation and/or the loss of bonus.
At the end of the day what we need to achieve is a job evaluation
scheme that is fair and ensures equal pay. We also need fair
and just compensation for staff who have equal pay claims.
On top of all this and following the major review of Social
Work and Education there is a major review of all other Council
Departments with elements of all of them being merged into a
new Department called Services for Communities with the emphasis
being on local delivery. This will undoubtedly impact on existing
UNISON Scotland will be pressing for a 3 year deal on pay based
on the following.
* 3 year claim 01 April 2006 to 31 March 2008
* a percentage and/or a fixed sum increase each year
* a revision of the hourly rate
The joint trade unions will enter into discussions with the
employers in the near future. Hopefully in a more co-ordinated
way this time.
A condition of service that most of us don't particularly give
a thought to until later in our working life is our pension
scheme, however it was at the front of all our minds last year
when we voted to take strike action against the employer's plans
to reduce the benefits of our scheme.
As a result of the overwhelming vote the government withdrew
their plans and UNISON has recently got them to withdraw an
increase in contributions and raising the minimum pension age.
But now the government wants to stop the Rule of 85 where you
can apply to retire on full pension if your age and years of
service add up to 85. They argue this rule is age discrimination
but UNISON is clear it is not.
It is essential we demonstrate that we will fight to defend
our pensions by, if necessary, taking the strike action we committed
ourselves to last year. It's our pension scheme paid for by
our wages, we must defend it.
Round the Branch
Throughout the year the Service Conditions Team have had to
respond to short term needs (Grievances & Disciplines) and long
term needs (Reviews & Restructuring). On top of that workload
we have dealt with corporate negotiations, some of which I have
previously highlighted. We cannot go into detail on everything
we have been involved in (particularly when the case relates
to individual circumstances) but the following is a flavour
of some of the key issues of the past 12 months.
CITY DEVELOPMENT Review of Network Services Review of
Facilities Management Transfer of Central Emergency Services
CONSUMER & ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES Review of Waste Management
Review of Regulatory Services Review of Trading Standards
CORPORATE SERVICES HR Integration Review of Fleet Maintenance
FINANCE Centralisation of Departmental Finance functions
Review of Revenue & Benefits
CULTURE & LEISURE Review of Park Patrol Review of Library
CHILDREN & FAMILIES Continuing restructuring of new
department Ongoing implementation of Nursery Nurses Review
HOUSING Housing Stock Transfer
HEALTH & SOCIAL CARE Day Services Review Changes in
role of Mental Health Services Practice Team Review
VOLUNTARY SECTOR Too numerous to list!
OTHER BODIES (Leisure Trust, Fire Brigade, Colleges,
Forth Bridge etc) Again, too numerous to list!
Thankyou, as always, to the Branch support staff, Eileen, Julie,
Monica and Nicky and to all Team Members who stepped into the
breach and ably covered when I was absent due to a broken collar
Service Conditions Co-ordinator