Socialist Worker

Why is single status leading to so much anger and action?

Issue No. 2032

All the disputes on this page are linked to the single status pay agreement.

Councils that failed to implement equality legislation introduced over 30 years ago are now facing compensation bills totalling more than £500 million.

The single status agreement was signed in 1997 by local government employers and national trade unions.

The deal followed a series of successful employment tribunal cases on equal pay.

Typically women were doing jobs of equal value to male manual workers, and had been on the same pay grade as them for many years.

But they were not eligible for bonus payments that the men received, and in some cases they were getting 40 percent less.

Single status deals are supposed to deliver a common pay scale for all jobs and harmonisation of conditions.

But the government has refused to give local authorities extra funds to pay those who gain from the deal.

Every authority is supposed to implement a deal by 1 April 2007, but only about a third of councils have reached agreements.

Councils such as Aberdeen and Birmingham have said they will impose the agreement on workers.

In North Lanarkshire, where the evaluation process has been completed, school librarians have been put down a grade. ?This means that although the basic salary of around £20,000 will be conserved for three years, thereafter it will drop to £17,000. ?Already, two of the 27 school librarians in the authority have resigned from their jobs.

A system claiming to deliver equal pay for women is delivering cuts in the pay of already low-paid women. ?The unions inability to fight on this issue has already led to 10,000 claims by workers turning to no win no fee lawyers and up to 3,500 workers suing their unions for failure to represent them properly.

There needs to be concerted pressure from the unions to win equal pay without pay cuts for other workers in councils across Britain.

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