Aberdeenshire UNISON

Update Dec 2009
Progress as Cornerstone extends protection

Cornerstone has agreed to extend the protection of salary for staff adversely affected by the new pay and grading structure. This move came after a further meeting between Cornerstone and UNISON on Friday 27th Nov 2009.

Cornerstone has now proposed that the current salary protection will continue past the stated date of 1st April 2010 and will remain in place until such time as the new salary "catches up" with the salary in place prior to the new structure.

There will however, continue to be a small number of posts where the difference in salary is significant and where this degree of protection cannot continue indefinitely.

David O'Connor, Regional Organiser said, "In these circumstances, initial discussions with affected staff have already taken place and this will be followed up on an individual basis. If you are one of the affected staff you will have been notified by now."


Update Nov 2009
Cornerstone set to impose new pay and grading structure

UNISON members within Cornerstone seem set to have a new pay and grading structure imposed upon them despite strong opposition from the trade union.

David O'Connor, Regional Organiser said, "It is UNISON’s belief that the process and outcomes of the Job Evaluation process are both flawed and unfair in terms of the application of the employer’s job evaluation scheme and equality, as well as the level of protection offered for those facing pay cuts."

UNISON's negotiations have resulted in some gains and the employer has moved in relation to salary protection for staff who need to undertake SVQ qualifications for their job role and in looking to provide wider opportunities for this training. However UNISON's concerns about the loyalty award proposals, the protection period and whether the scheme is equality proof, have fallen on deaf ears.

Cornerstone now intends to implement the new pay and grading scheme as of the 1st November 2009 and effective from 1st April 2009, without agreement with the trade union

Following consultation with our members, a number of areas of concern were highlighted not only about the proposals but also about the lack of information provided to employees in respect of the potential outcomes of the process.

The concerns over the proposals included:
1. availability of training, including SVQ training, that would allow employees to progress through the grades
2. progression through grades via a 10 year ‘loyalty’ award
3. the period of protection for employees facing a drop in salary as a result of the Job Evaluation process

David added, "Of those members who responded to the consultation undertaken by the branch, 70% stated they were unhappy with the proposals as they stood for a wide variety of reasons, 80 % stated they had concerns over pay following the period of protection and 11% indicated they were unsure as to the process and how it affected them."

UNISON has raised these concerns as part of the ongoing negotiations and gained some improvements

1) In terms of the availability of training the employer has agreed that for employees working in an operational role that requires a professional qualification (SVQ) and do not presently hold this qualification, then their salary will be protected at the point they are on as of the 1st April 2009 (which will include any incremental entitlement due) until they achieve their SVQ and move onto Point 2 or 3 (as relevant)

Moreover Cornerstone has taken on board there is an issue of resources that has to be addressed and are currently working with the SVQ Team to address some of these issues with a view to increasing the opportunities for staff to complete the required qualification.

2) As to the loyalty award, it was the view of both UNISON and its members that the salary should cover the job being carried out. In any case any proposed loyalty award should be instituted in a more reasonable timeframe. Additionally it is UNISON’s view that the proposal as it stands, raises potential equality issues, as well as creating a flawed and unfair grading and salary structure.

3) In terms of the period of protection, it was UNISON's view that the period proposed was not long enough both in terms of allowing the organisation to look at mitigating against, what are in some cases a substantial financial loss for employees, nor indeed allow the individual to make appropriate arrangements for their own circumstances.

The employer refuses to move, other than in terms of point one. Despite stating that it has always been, and firmly remains, their intention to protect current employees' salaries as they do not want anyone to be financially worse off as a result of the job evaluation process, they have said that they cannot consider guaranteeing salary protection to all staff beyond 31st March 2010 until they know the financial situation facing them next year.

Process and outcomes flawed
Inez Teece, Assistant Branch Secretary said, "Whilst welcoming the limited movement by the employer, UNISON continues to be of the view that the process and outcomes were flawed and will potentially lead to inequality.

"Despite this, it is the employer’s intention to introduce the new pay and grading scheme as of the 1st November 2009 and effective from 1st April 2009, this being without agreement with the trade union.

"UNISON believes that as things stand, the old contracts will be terminated unlawfully without proper and adequate notice or consultation and without good reason. We believe that the new terms are being imposed unlawfully without agreement and in breach of our members contract of employment. We will be advising our members accordingly."

Inez added, “We regret having to consider legal action and will continue to look to resolving these matters by negotiation, however we have to protect our members interests”


Update Oct 2009
Cornerstone extends consultation on new pay and grading model

UNISON has taken some time to speak to Cornerstone Management and to our stewards about the proposals on the new pay and grading model.

Inez TeeceInez Teece, Assistant Branch Secretary said, "Given the magnitude of the proposals I have asked that the implementation date be moved to 1st November 2009.

She added, "I have asked this for a number of reasons. This extension will allow us to do the necessary work involved to ensure that the proposals fit with employment and equality law. It will also give our stewards time to hold workplace meeting so that members can air their views.

"Following this we will produce and present a UNISON response to the proposals with a view to addressing any areas of concern."

Cornerstone has agreed to UNISON's request for an extension to the consultation period on the proposed new pay and grading model to allow for this work to be completed.

A meeting of Cornerstone stewards took place on 6th Oct 2009, when this strategy was agreed.

To this end the branch has sent out a brief questionnaire for members in Cornerstone to complete and return. Members are asked to enclose as much detail as needed.