Council hold ‘constructive’ pay dispute talks

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 18:32 on 10 December 2014.
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Picture: Scott Campbell for Cumbernauld Media.
CUMBERNAULD and Kilsyth’s Scottish Nationalist Member of the Scottish Parliament has hit out at what he sees as an “apparent lack of progress” in the ongoing equal pay dispute within North Lanarkshire Council.

According to the MSP, Councillors only received their first report of the ongoing equal pay dispute at a secret session of the authority’s Policy and Resources committee, on Thursday 4 December.

Councillor David Stocks is the leader of the SNP group at North Lanarkshire Council. He criticised the lack of detail conveyed to elected members throughout the sorry saga.

“The papers contained little real, hard information and SNP councillors were disappointed by the lack of real answers to questions we asked. The papers even stated that was the first such equal pay report to councillors since last June,” Councillor Stocks explained.

He added: “It’s the same old veil of secrecy, with only a select few knowing what’s going on on the Council side, with 90% of elected Councillors kept in the dark.”

Cumbernauld and Kilsyth SNP MSP, Jamie Hepburn, was just as critical of the council’s progress on the matter. He explained: “This is a matter I wrote to NLC about in June and I still await a substantive reply from the council. I have once again written to the Chief Executive for an update on the dispute.”

“I am most concerned with the apparent lack of transparency being shown over this issue. I understand that it is over ten years since the first assessments recommending equal pay were carried out and any further delay gives the impression that the council are prevaricating over the settlement of the dispute,” Mr Hepburn added.

At the same time as Mr Hepburn and Mr Stocks released their stinging comments over the slow progress being made by North Lanarkshire Council, it was confirmed that council officials had met with trade union representatives to discuss the issue.

The talks between representatives of North Lanarkshire Council and the UNISON trade union were described as 'constructive', with details of the meeting announced shortly after it had taken place.

The meeting between senior elected members, council officers and UNISON officials took place on Monday 8 December, and discussed issues surrounding the ongoing equal pay dispute. Councillor Jim McCabe, Leader of North Lanarkshire Council, chaired the meeting. 

Commenting, Councillor McCabe said: "I thought it was important that elected members meet with UNISON officials so that both the council and the trade union could achieve a better understanding of the current position on equal pay.

"I am pleased that the discussions were constructive in nature and that we were able to provide clarity around the current offer to what are known as second wave claimants. We are not yet in a position to reach a settlement but I thought the meeting was a positive step forward.

"I would wish to see this dialogue continue in the future and I welcome the spirit in which UNISON approached this meeting."

John Mooney, branch secretary of the North Lanarkshire branch of UNISON, added to Councillor McCabe’s statement.

He said that UNSION were “happy” to have the opportunity to discuss the issue, but stressed he hoped the talks would lead to “swifter negotiations”.

Mr Mooney said: "We were happy to have an opportunity to discuss matters with elected members, and welcome their involvement going forward. We hope that this leads to better and swifter negotiations with us and our colleagues and that our members can receive the payments they deserve."
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