Local Government Pay Commission, Equality and Equal Pay

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2004 Local Government Service Group Conference
9 June 2004
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the Local Government Pay Commission’s call for strong action by Government, councils and trade unions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to promote equality in local government, based on its view that “Equality in local government employment is a necessity not an option”. In particular Conference welcomes the Commission’s call for:

1)Guidance on how equality can be mainstreamed throughout local government employment and service provision

2)An ‘equality impact assessment’ mechanism to be established to apply to any proposed changes to terms and conditions

3)Government incentives, including financial freedoms and flexibilities, to ensure that equality and equal pay become “a policy priority”

4)Equal access to training and skills ladders

5)A review of part-time and term-time workers’ pay, conditions and access to benefits

6)Action to end gender segregation in employment

7)Equality training for elected members and managers

8)Action to deliver greater work-life balance

This Conference notes that the Local Government Pay Commission failed to recognise low pay in local government as a significant issue. Low pay is predominantly, though not solely, prevalent amongst women workers. Far from the Commission helping low-paid women workers, we have witnessed the employers pounce on their “findings” that there is no need for a £6.50 minimum wage for council workers. Low-paid (women) members continue to be vastly undervalued.

Conference reaffirms its commitment to winning equal pay and the Service Group’s ‘Getting Equal’ campaign, which calls on the union to ‘educate, negotiate and litigate’ to close the pay gap. “Conference believes that “Getting Equal” does not only mean getting equal pay now – it also means members being compensated for past inequality.”

Conference welcomes the fact that UNISON has secured the real chance of a better future for local government workers. This should especially benefit women, who have for far too long failed to receive the pay they deserve.

Recent studies show that since 1992, the gender pay gap between women

employed in local government and men employed in the economy as a whole has widened. The Pay Commission also highlighted a gender pay gap of 42% between part-time women and full-time men working in local government and an overall gap of 19%. Conference deplores this continuing pay discrimination, which devalues the work of hundreds of thousands of UNISON’s women members. Conference notes with great concern that only 20% of NJC councils have completed Single Status pay and grading reviews, while little progress has been made in Scotland.

We further note that:

1)Full time Female non manual workers pay was 75% of the economy wide average gross pay for full time male non manual workers. By 2002 this had fallen to 70%.

2)Full time female manual workers pay was just over 44% of the economy wide average pay for full time male non manual workers. By 2002 this had fallen to 42%.

3)Full time female local government workers saw pay fall against the economy wide and male average between 1992 and 2000. Pay continued to fall throughout 2000 and 2002.

Part-time workers also receive a raw deal. They are in the main on the

lowest grades and least likely to receive training or have access to

flexible working patterns. Term Time workers also lose out through low pay and limited working hours. Over 90% of term time workers are women who face discrimination through their pay. This in turn has a detrimental affect on

their pension and maternity rights and any other rights based on qualifying

periods or earnings related criteria.

The employers’ 2004 pay ‘offer’ has clearly shown they are not prepared to accept the reality that local government workers, particularly women, are underpaid. In fact their insulting offer shows they have paid little more than lip service to the Pay Commission’s recommendations.

Conference welcomes the further recommendations of the Pay Commission that:

a)‘Above inflation’ pay increases could be justified on equality grounds

b)The ODPM should require all councils to carry out equal pay audits and pay and grading reviews ‘to a specified timetable’

c)Central government finance should be made available for initiatives to help close the gender pay gap

d)The Single Status agreement and NJC job evaluation schemes are ‘fit for purpose’