Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Glasgow City Council Update

Good news for A4ES clients in Glasgow.

Now the campaign in Glasgow has gone rather quiet recently because the focus of events shifted to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland's highest civil court.

But the latest development is that the Court  of Session has now listed the Glasgow Appeal for April/May 2017 which is quite inspired timing, if you ask me.

Because this means that the Glasgow cases will be heard in the run-up to next year's local council elections which are due in May 2017

No doubt the news from the Court of Session will be concentrating minds in Glasgow City Chambers, so let's see what happens in the days ahead. 


Glasgow City Council Update

I wrote about the 'sour grapes' coming from the local trade unions and Glasgow City Council following the recent decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal which concluded that the Council's pay arrangements treated traditional male workers more favourably than women workers, in comparable jobs. 

Here's the local Unison branch secretary in Glasgow, Sam McCartney, doing his level best to pour cold water on things instead of encouraging the City Council to get round the negotiating table:

"The bottom line is that at this point in time its premature to say who has won or lost. How this will pan out will take much much more legal wrangling to get a resolution. And the figures bandied around are way in excess of what anyone can expect."

Now if you ask me, these are remarkably similar sentiments to those expressed by the local Unison branch secretary in South Lanarkshire, Stephen Smellie, in an interview with the Hamilton Advertiser newspaper back in 2012, after the local Labour-run council had lost a major Employment Tribunal hearing. 

For some reason Stephen is referred to as Mr Smillie, but I've checked the records and his name is definitely Smellie (pronounced Smiley as opposed to Smelly), but in any event here's what Stephen told the Hamilton Advertiser (see the full article in the post below):

"He is also keen to point out that no-one with an equal pay dispute is guaranteed money at this stage. 

"He said: “It’s been described as a victory. No-one has got their money yet, no-one is going to get any money at this stage, and no-one has won an equal pay case.

“One of the concerns I have is publishing how much money will be paid out and saying people are going to get it before Christmas.

“Not every one of these cases is going to win and I don’t want people to buy a new three-piece suite thinking they are going to be getting a big pay-out. Nobody actually knows whether a case will win or not.” 

Now as regular readers know, the South Lanarkshire Unison branch actively discouraged its members from pursuing equal pay claims against the local Labour-run council which was a quite remarkable way for a trade union to behave if you ask me. 

So I think the motto of the story is to union members should always take steps to ensure that local trade unions reps actually know what they're talking about.

Glasgow Update (23/03/16)

'Sour Grapes' seems to be the order of the day at Glasgow City Council where the local trade unions and council bosses seem to have joined forces (not for the first time) to dampen people's expectations over equal pay.

See the report below in today's Herald newspaper.

Now as regular readers know the local trade unions in Glasgow have form in this area having previously encouraged their members to accept miserably poor offers of settlement from the Council back in 2005.

In other areas, in South Lanarkshire for example, local union leaders also went 'native' and actively discouraged their own members from pursuing equal pay claims against the local Labour-run council, so union members voted with their feet and joined up with Action 4 Equality Scotland.

I have to say I find it quite amazing that a local union branch secretary can try to pour cold water on such a big victory at the Employment Appeal Tribunal instead of calling on the Council to get round the table to settle these claims.  

The SNP opposition leader in Glasgow, Cllr Susan Aitken, told The Herald yesterday that the City Council should "come clean" about its responsibilities and settle the claims, which to be honest is the kind of comment I would expect to hear from a trade union leader standing up for low paid council workers.

So why in heaven's name does a local union branch secretary in Glasgow take such a different position? 

Especially as the unions at national level have been working constructively with Action 4 Equality Scotland to achieve the result from the Employment Appeal Tribunal which represents a really big win in anyone's language. 

Multi-million pound equal pay windfall victory claims are premature, warn unions and council

Female workers celebrate a previous equal pay victory. But unions and council warns against premature jubilation in latest Glasgow case

By Gerry Braiden - The Herald

THOUSANDS of female council employees expecting a major windfall as part of an equal pay dispute will have to wait months for any confirmation if victory amid warnings of premature celebrations.

Senior union figures and local authority sources have said the pay dispute involving around 6500 Glasgow City Council staff has several further months of legal wrangling before it comes to any conclusion.

It comes after leading lawyer Stefan Cross declared victory over the authority, predicting a total payout of £100million.

Glasgow Update (21/03/16)

Great news for the 5,500 Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) clients still fighting for equal pay with Glasgow City Council.

The long running case which went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal has finally released its decision (from a hearing which concluded in May 2015) and the result is a huge victory for the claimants.

In essence the tribunal agreed that Glasgow City Council failed to create a level playing field between its traditional male and female jobs before introducing new pay arrangements in 2007.

As regular readers know, traditional male jobs received significant bonus payments on top their basic pay which were highly discriminatory because these lucrative bonus schemes were not available to female dominated jobs.

So 11 years or 12 years ago, a Glasgow Home Care worker was earning around only £6.00 an hour, whereas a male refuse worker or gardener (on the same or even a lower grade) was being paid significantly more, around £9.00 a hour because of these 'male only' bonus schemes.

Now these big bonuses were negotiated between council management and the trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite), but the size of the pay gap between traditional male and female jobs was kept hidden from the wider workforce - until Action 4 Equality Scotland came along in 2005 and let the cat out of the bag..

The claimants case is that Glasgow City Council had a clear duty to tackle this pay discrimination and create a level playing field between male and female jobs before introducing new pay arrangements in 2007 - and this argument has been upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

In plain language the pay of women's jobs should have increased to the same level as the higher (bonus related) pay of men's jobs, otherwise the Council continued to treat its male workers much more favourably than their female colleagues. 

Which is exactly what happened in Glasgow because the City Council protected the higher (bonus related) earnings of its traditional male jobs going forward (from 2007) and this 'more favourable treatment' forms the basis of another equal pay claim for the 5,500 A4ES clients. 

The $64,000 dollar question is whether Glasgow City Council will accept the game is now up and negotiate a settlement to all of the outstanding claims.

Because if not, then the fight for equal pay in Glasgow is bound to be be a big issue in the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2016 and will also run all the way to the next round of Scottish council elections due in May 2017.

So I will be making contact with the leadership of Glasgow City Council in the days ahead to discover whether it is to be a case of 'jaw jaw' or 'war war'.