Monday, 19 December 2016

Glasgow and Equal Pay

I'm all in favour of Glasgow presenting itself positively on the world stage, but you've got to laugh at this report by Paul Hutcheon in The Sunday Herald which shines a light on a ridiculous recent 'junket' to Cannes in the south of France.

I don't always agree with local trade union reps, as regular readers know, although I do think that the Unison branch secretary (Brian Smith) rather hit the nail on the head with his pithy comment - "Did so many people have to go?"

Of course not, is the honest answer.

Because if the Council leader's presence was deemed to be justified why does another senior councillor have to tag along?

Likewise if the Director of Property Services was required to advise the Council leader, why did his assistant have to be away from his desk as well?

And as someone who travels to Europe on a regular basis, I can honestly say I've never paid anywhere remotely near £1,000 for a return flight.

What does this say about the City Council's priorities to those still fighting for justice when it comes to equal pay?


After swingeing cuts Glasgow council spent £17,000 sending team of 12 to Cannes

Frank McAveety

BY Paul Hutcheon - The Herald

GLASGOW City Council spent nearly £17,000 sending a dozen people to the French Riviera at the same time as making severe budget cuts.

Labour leader Frank McAveety and his aide Bob Wylie were part a dozen-strong team promoting Glasgow at a property event in Cannes.

Brian Smith, a branch secretary of Unison in Glasgow, said: “Did so many people have to go?”

The council and its arms-length bodies have been at odds with trade unions this year over budgetary decisions. Janitors took industrial action in the spring amid a pay dispute and IT staff went on strike this month in protest over fears of privatisation.

However, while McAveety has defended the administration’s savings plan, his council’s commitment to belt-tightening has been questioned.

In March, the same month as the walk-out by janitors, it was reported by the Evening Times that the council would, within days, be sending six people to the MIPIM property conference in Cannes, a city synonymous with the rich and famous. The trip took place just days after the Labour-run council pushed through a budget involving £58 million in cuts and savings in the current financial year.

But a detailed breakdown of costs reveals the council paid for twelve people to visit the sun-kissed location, rather than six.

McAveety and his political ally George Redmond were the only councillors in Cannes, and hotels and flights for the pair cost the public purse around £2,022.

They were joined by council chief executive Annemarie O’Donnell, Executive Director of development and regeneration services (DRS) Richard Brown, as well as his assistant director Tom Turley, a trio that added another £3,200 to the bill.
The top team was bolstered by four DRS staffers and an employee in Corporate Services, which this newspaper understands is Wylie.
The former BBC journalist is an advisor to McAveety and has extensive media experience. He was the communications director at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, but left the organisation after getting caught up in a row over a business trip to Manchester arranged on the same day as a Rangers match in the same city.
The council also funded two individuals from external organisations – Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, and the city marketing bureau – to attend the event.
Hotels set the cash-strapped council back £7,477 and flights came to £6,120. Delegate fees took the total bill to around £16,944. However, the cost breakdown did not include expenses incurred at Cannes.
Smith said: “At a time of cuts and workers being told to tighten their belts and not getting fair pay, it takes a bit of a brass neck for the council to take more than a football team to Cannes.”
An SNP source said: “This looks really bad and seems to confirm our fears that some people see the council as little more than a way to generate some nice trips for themselves.”
However, a council spokesman said: “MIPIM is one of the world’s most significant markets for property development – which is a crucial element of Glasgow’s economy. Despite sending a considerably smaller delegation than many of our competitors, Glasgow’s attendance over recent years has directly helped secure inward investment worth more than £100m from Europe and North America to support development projects in the city.
“Ultimately, attending MIPIM delivers jobs. Not showcasing Glasgow on that global stage would be a false economy, putting the city and its economy at a serious disadvantage.”