Glasgow equal pay tribunal victory for UNISON

Date: Wed 30 January 2013

30UNISON Scotland has welcomed an Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling on equal pay which could improve the chances of low paid workers, mainly women, seeking fair comparison with other workers in councils and their associated “arms length organisations” (ALEOs).

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has decided that UNISON members working in ALEOs set up by Glasgow City Council can compare themselves with Council employees, and with employees of other Council ALEOs when claiming equal pay.

Mandy McDowall, UNISON Scotland Regional Organiser said:
“This is a welcome ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal and an important victory for our members.

“It means that the law allows employees of one employer to compare themselves with workers in another employer if the employers are associated – and that councils can’t slip out of their duty to ensure equal pay and fair treatment simply by hiving off services into arms length organisations.”

The Council had argued that the ALEOs were not associated employers but were completely separate companies. They also argued that because some of the ALEOs were limited liability partnerships, they could not be an associated employer, because that only applied to companies.

The Appeal Tribunal dismissed that argument, declaring that there was no justification for putting such a narrow meaning on the legislation. They went on to say that the provision allowing comparisons across associated employers was an anti-avoidance measure to prevent employers splitting up their workforce to avoid equal pay comparisons. In order to achieve that aim, they were prepared to give a broad interpretation to the legislation.

Mandy McDowall added:
“This victory shows that workers seeking equal pay are stronger together in UNISON.”

For information please contact:
Mandy McDowall, Regional Organiser, 07903 846 427
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877 000
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07876 566 978

Notes for editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents staff in all of Scotland’s local authorities.

2. The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling in the case of the Glasgow ALEOs was confirmed on Friday 25 January. The claimants in this case are mostly low paid women who were transferred out to the ALEOs but want to claim equal pay with their former male bonus-earning colleagues within the Council and other ALEOs like City Building LLP..