Monday, 24 October 2016

North Lanarkshire Update

The Herald reports that a number of senior, long-serving Labour councillors in North Lanarkshire have been deselected by the party's hierarchy in Scotland.

According to Gerry Braiden, the paper's local government correspondent, the former Labour leader, Councillor Jim McCabe, has been 'dumped' which doesn't surprise me I have to say.

Councillor McCabe, along with other Labour colleagues, presided over discriminatory pay arrangements for many years, sanctioned a hugely controversial 'bonus scheme' for senior council officials and fought to the bitter end thousands of equal pay claims launched by A4ES in the Glasgow Employment Tribunals. 

If you ask me, Labour in Scotland should have acted much sooner to clear out its council 'deadwood' and it may well be that local voters this latest party initiative as a case of 'too little too late'.  


Labour calls time on long serving councillors in North Lanarkshire

Labour calls time on long serving councillors

By Gerry Braiden - The Herald

LABOUR has pulled the plug on the political careers of some of its longest-standing frontline figures as it bids to retain power in a former stronghold.

Jim Brooks has not been selected as a candidate for next year’s local government elections.

He has served as a councillor since 1974, led Monklands Council at the time of its1990s cronyism scandal and been a kingpin in North Lanarkshire since it was formed.

Mr Brooks one of eight sitting members who were due to be informed at the weekend that they had been de-selected.

In a highly symbolic move, Jim McCabe, who led the council for almost two decades until standing down in February, has failed the party’s selection process, even though he had already decided he was quitting politics.

His former chief whip, Tommy Curley, another who is standing down, has also failed.

North Lanarkshire Council (25/02/15)

The Herald reports that the Labour Group in North Lanarkshire Council has been told to bring its Annual General Meeting forward from May so that the party can concentrate on the forthcoming general election.

Now this makes a degree of sense because Labour is widely predicted to lose a lot of seats on May 7th and the Party's appalling track record on equal pay in both North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils makes this prospect thoroughly deserved, if you ask me.

According to The Herald the odds are the present leader of the Labour Group, Jim McCabe, will be re-elected in a pre-election truce to avoid too much public blood-letting in the run-up to 7 May. 

But if that does happen what does it say about Labour's attitude to equal pay because Jim McCabe has been the Council leader throughout the period when the fight for equal pay has been at its fiercest and although I suspect Councillor McCabe has been poorly served by his chief officials, the buck has to stop somewhere.

In other words the smart thing to do would be for the Labour leader to issue a humble apology over the way the Council has treated its lowest paid workers for the past 10 years and stand down. 

Labour leadership of strife-hit council face make-or-break meeting 

TENSIONS within a feud-hit council administration face coming to a head, with Labour Party insisting a crunch meeting is brought forward.
Councillors in North Lanarkshire will vote on whether to give their beleaguered boss Jim McCabe another year in the post when they gather for their AGM.

However, party bosses expect a pre-election truce within the group embroiled in its own civil war in recent months.

The meeting, like others held by Labour groups in Scottish local government, has been brought forward by a few months following instructions by the party's general secretary north of the border, Brian Roy.

Mr Roy's father, Frank, is expected to face a tight battle in his bid to be re-elected in Motherwell and Wishaw, which falls within North Lanarkshire.

There have been concerns within Labour in Lanarkshire the split within the party at the local council sparked by the sacking a councillor who investigated a multi-million-pound public contract involving the authority would impact on the run-up to the May Westminster poll.

Mr McCabe, one of the giants of Scottish local government, has already seen off an SNP bid to oust him as North Lanarkshire leader over his relationship with senior executives at Mears Scotland.

But one senior party source said: "Had the meeting taken place in mid to late May, when it's supposed to, and we'd maybe lost a seat or two Jim McCabe would be toast.

"As it is members at the AGM who maybe thought this was the place to air their grievances face speaking out or keeping their heads down and let what's happened happen. That's what they'll be expected to do.

"My guess is more than a few just won't turn up."

The local authority has a £30 million-a-year contract with Mears Scotland, run by Willie Docherty, husband of Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, personal friends of Mr McCabe, with recent losses by the firm passed on to tenants.

The sacking of Labour's Tommy Morgan, who was also the catalyst for the notorious 1990s Monklands scandal being blown open, has split the administration.

A Labour spokesman said all groups across Scottish local government had been asked to bring forward their AGMs ahead of the short campaign in the run-up to May 7.

He said an email had been circulated in mid-January with a request they be completed by the close of February, describing the move as "standard practice".

Glasgow, where Labour also faces an uphill battle to retain all its MPs, held its AGM a fortnight ago with leader Gordon Matheson re-elected unopposed.
Odd Allies and Strange Bedfellows (16/04/07)

North Lanarkshire won't win any prizes for the council's handling of equal pay, but it has thrown up some odd allies and strange bedfellows.

Take Jim McCabe, leader of the outgoing council. Now Jim is a decent enough fellow, not a political heavyweight, but an experienced Labour party man and a former Nupe (now Unison) shop steward. So, he understands all the issues when it comes to equal pay - or ought to at least.

Yet, Jim's greatest claim to fame is not fighting against discrimination or low pay. Oh no, he is best known locally for dropping his pants at the office Christmas party - much to the embarrassment of fellow guests.Jim followed up this PR disaster with another - by puffing away in his office during an interview with a journalist. Effectively, thumbing his nose at the council's strict no smoking policy and the Scottish Parliament's smoking ban. Guess what made the headlines!

Jim is also leader of the CoSLA Labour group - CoSLA being the umbrella body for Scotland's 32 local councils. In recent months, Jim has been joined at CoSLA by a new chum, Joe Di Paola. Joe has been appointed as the secretary/adviser to the employers' side of the collective bargaining machinery, which negotiates with the unions on a wide range of vital employment issues. Including, of course, equal pay.

The spooky thing is that - until very recently - Joe did exactly the same job for the trade union side and 'led' the negotiations on implementing equal pay (and single status) from 1999 to 2006. Negotiations that stalled and made absolutely no progress under Joe's stewardship. With a track record of failure, Joe has now jumped ship to the employers' side, but his new bosses should remember the old saying: "You can only ride two horses at the same time, if you were born with two arses."

One of Joe's best buddies in the whole world is Grahame Smith, another Labour 'placeman' and new general secretary of the STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress). As everyone knows, the STUC is the progressive and left leaning voice of the trade union movement. Needless to say, it's 100% in favour of equal opportunities, equal pay, motherhood and apple pie and so on. And the STUC is completely, utterly and resolutely against any form of discrimination. Oh yes!

What a surprise then that Grahame and the STUC's 'band of brothers' have been as quiet as church mice on equal pay - while one of the biggest employment rows to hit Scotland in years has raged in the press and media. The explanation is that General Council - the executive body that runs the STUC - is now controlled by only four big unions: Amicus, GMB, TGWU and Unison. So, they can appoint someone in their own image - absolutely tame, non-threatening and very much part of the establishment.

One of Grahame's General Council comrades is Mike Kirby - convener (senior lay member) of Unison Scotland since 1993 and key figure in the Unison Glasgow branch. A branch that kept their members in the dark about equal pay for years - then lost low paid workers thousands of pounds, by encouraging them to accept settlements that were worth much less than the real value of their claims.

Would things have been different with a woman at the figurehead at Unison? After all, women account for around 70% of the union's membership and had most to gain or lose. Mibbees aye, mibbees naw. The issue is more complicated than it seems because Mike's former long-time partner was none other than Iris Wylie - head of personnel at North Lanarkshire and key figure in the 'dog's dinner' that Scotland's 4th largest council has made of equal pay (back to where we started).

North Lanarkshire sat on its backside for years, then hurriedly cobbled together a new pay structure when Action 4 Equality arrived on the scene and let the cat out of the bag. The workforce threw the proposals out, following a secret ballot, so the council abruptly decided it would impose the new arrangements - the council didn't need the support of its employees and the trade unions after all. Wonder who gave the council this brilliant piece of advice?

So, the strange world of equal pay is laid bare for all to see - the wheels within wheels and strange goings on that connect North Lanarkshire Council, CoSLA, the Labour Party, the STUC, Unison and North Lanarkshire Council (again).

Scotland is such an interesting place to live and work.