Hundreds of PCS members working in the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) are receiving lump sum payments of up to £4,000 thanks to an equal pay claim brought by the union.
The case is putting in excess of £2m into the August pay packets of more than 700 members of staff working in non-operational roles in the service.
PCS had argued that so-called “one off” additional payments made to, mostly male, prison officers in 2015, 2017 and 2018 discriminated against members in non-operational roles in the same grades (bands C, D and E).
The issue was originally brought to the attention of PCS officers by the local branch during pay negotiations in 2015, and local reps led the campaign for the bonuses to be extended to all staff.
An equal pay challenge was subsequently launched after PCS Scotland industrial officer Danny Williamson attended a Thompson’s equal pay seminar and talked to solicitors about the potential for arguing indirect sex discrimination in this case.
PCS argued that the payments were discriminatory because the prison officer complement was mostly male, whereas the non-uniformed staff in the same grades were predominantly female.
While SPS did not concede the union’s equal pay claim, they agreed to an out-of-court settlement which means all staff in these grades will receive equivalent payments, backdated to 2015, worth up to £4,000.
However the union is continuing to fight for the same payments for all staff, especially those who are the lowest paid. The equal pay legal argument could not be applied to workers in other grades where there are no prison officers.
The employer has so far failed to “do the right thing” and apply to the payments to everyone, said Danny, so “the campaign goes on”.
PCS has argued consistently that all staff should have received the same payments as all staff were being asked to contribute to SPS’s plans for future changes to the service.
“There can be no doubt that without the union’s action these payments would never have been made, staff would not have benefited by up to £4,000 and an unfair situation would have been allowed to continue,” said Danny.
PCS National Officer Lynn Henderson said the settlement “demonstrates clearly the power of trade unions in fighting for equality”.
“There are still workers in lower grades who haven’t yet seen justice done and we will continue to support their fight,” she added.
“But for now we’re glad that these women working in Scotland’s prisons are finally getting the money they deserve.”
Reps or members who believe there may be any equal pay issues in their workplace should contact their PCS Industrial Officer.