Coventry hits back over equal pay blitz

I was disappointed when I read your news story on our potential equal pay problems (, 21 July) that you didn’t contact us to enable us to put the issue into context.

Coventry City Council has been negotiating with unions since 1997 to try and reach agreement over single status, which aims to break down old divides between white- and blue-collar workers and ensure equal pay across the organisation.

Coventry’s package, costing nearly £11m, will see 3,528 employees get pay rises of up to £8,000 a year, another 5,375 employees will see no change to their salaries and 1,637 employees will have their pay frozen for the next five years. Around 500 workers could then face pay cuts at the end of five years, but management has already agreed to work with unions to review these cases.

Employees who have seen their posts downgraded can appeal against the decision to a joint management and union panel.

Social workers and care assistants would benefit from big salary boosts, while some employees involved in manual tasks, such as refuse collection, would see their jobs regraded at a lower level.

At the moment, men in the lowest graded jobs in the council are paid on average 9% more than women doing similar jobs – single status would see this drop to a difference of just 1.8%.

An independent review of the process carried out by management and trade unions to examine every job in the council and grade them according to their worth found ‘a clear audit trail’ and no evidence of bias or discrimination in the exercise.

The proposals do not affect teachers, craft workers or senior managers. Senior managers’ pay is calculated using the Hay Review. A proposal to use this method for single status was rejected by the unions, which believed members would benefit more from a system agreed with local government at a national level.

About 84 authorities out of 400 nationally have so far implemented single status. The deadline for completion in all councils is 2007.

Sue Iannantuoni
Senior HR manager, corporate support
Coventry City Council

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