Commenting on the issuing of the section 114 notice at Birmingham City Council, Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
“Since the new political leadership team of John Cotton and Sharon Thompson have been in place UNISON have seen first-hand how they have worked hard to get a firm grip on improving industrial relations, tackling equal pay and addressing the wider problems in the council.
UNISON are committed to working with the council leadership to deal with the impact of the section 114 notice being issued.
UNISON’s view is that the issuing of the section 114 notice is because of the woeful way that some past and current council executive managers have dealt with equal pay. UNISON recently uncovered that the 2023/24 budget quantified the equal pay risk as £270m, which of course is significantly less than the £760m that is now being quoted.
But further examination showed things to be worse. Quite staggeringly the risk register assigned a zero per cent chance of the liability happening.
This risk register shows that currently employed council executive managers massively under-estimated the magnitude of the equal pay claims, but also assessed the chance of any claims being paid out as zero. We now know was a catastrophic failure of judgment.
Some of the executive managers who had responsibility for assessing this risk still work for the council. It beggars belief that these same executive managers who made this catastrophic mistake are continuing to give advice on the best way forward on job evaluation and equal pay.
UNISON recently wrote to the chief executive, leader and deputy leader of the council raising this and further concerns about the poor advice of these executive managers are giving on equal pay and job evaluation. We have called for an urgent review of the actions of these executive managers. The council workforce and the people of Birmingham cannot afford for these executive managers to make more catastrophic errors.”