Thursday, February 22, 2007

Equal Pay discussion at the UNISON NEC

I can’t report in detail in writing about our discussion on Equal Pay at yesterday’s meetinf of the UNISON National Executive Council (NEC). Official reports and briefings will be issued.

I think I can safely touch on one or two important points which are already in the public domain. The Employment Appeal Tribunal hearing in the case of Allan –v- GMB has taken place, but a judgement is not expected until the end of the March at the earliest.

Chris Mullin MP forced an “adjournment debate” in the House of Commons on the issue of Equal Pay and Single Status, which led to the Minister, Phil Woolas indicating that the Government might consider legislating to address some of the problems which are being experienced. Though it is difficult to see what legislation they might be thinking of...

I therefore asked at the NEC about the problem which is posed by the advice issued to branches that we cannot discuss equal pay at UNISON Conferences because of pending litigation. I pointed out that this could inhibit debate about any proposals for legislation from the Government and was assured that the advice in relation to discussion at Conferences is to be kept under review in the light of legal developments.

I shall not report any further on this issue here and now – but would urge all UNISON branches to keep abreast of the circulars and briefings on equal pay issues which are being produced by the Union. I very much hope that by the time we reach our Conferences in the summer we have found a way in which we can discuss this critical issue - the position in which we find ourselves unable to talk at our Conference about such an important question is not tenable.

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