North Lanarkshire Council workers threaten Games demos over low pay

North Lanarkshire Council's Motherwell HQ.
North Lanarkshire Council's Motherwell HQ.

Workers in a long-running pay dispute are threatening to embarrass council chiefs by demonstrating during Commonwealth Games events.

A trade union leader warned they plan to target the Queen’s Baton Relay when it reaches Motherwell later this month and the Games triathlon at Strathclyde Park in July.

John Mooney, Unison branch secretary for North Lanarkshire, said: “If the council wants to drag this dispute on we are more than happy to take action. Some workers are even talking about the possibility of strike action later.”

Workers are angry over the length of time it is taking to resolve equal pay claims affecting mostly low paid women.

The issue is being dealt with by an employment tribunal in Glasgow, but Unison and a law firm representing workers say North Lanarkshire Council has conceded during this process that workers were treated unfairly and should pay up immediately.

Unison this week stepped up pressure on the council by launching a campaign which involves an advertising trailer and union members handing out leaflets in town centres.

Mr Mooney said the council has conceded that many of the 1,200 equal pay claims Unison has brought will be settled after admitting at the tribunal that it had destroyed records and altered assessment results, and that job evaluations were not reliable.

He added: “The council cannot continue to dodge the issue of equal pay. We call on the authority to do the right thing and settle all cases now.”

The council disputes that it has made any major concessions during the tribunal which has sat for 33 days and is due to resume in August.

Workers affected include home support workers, school crossing patrollers and playground supervisors. The council says it’s awaiting an independent evaluation of the grades people should be on.

A spokesman said: “The council continues to defend its position in relation to some groups of equal pay claims.

“We have met on many occasions with employees’ representatives and will continue to do so as appropriate.”

A solicitor representing more than 1,000 low paid workers slammed the council for refusing to take the issue to Acas, the conciliation service.

Carol Fox, of Fox and Partners stated: “We offered the opportunity to to sit down and reach a constructive and reasonable settlement. I’m astounded a Labour council refused this.”

“we’re seeing a misuse of taxpapayers’ money. These cases would have been settled long ago had private companies been involved.”

See this week’s Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker - out now - for more.