Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Calling Glasgow

Image result for twitter images

I've said many times on the blog site that the fight for equal pay is not a 'spectator sport'.

And this is another gentle reminder to readers in Glasgow to help build up a network of local campaigners by following me on Twitter  

Because people who follow me on Twitter will automatically receive posts to the blog which they can Share and help spread the word to friends and work colleagues.

Retweeting and sharing posts will also help in getting a strong campaign message across to Glasgow City Council in 2017.

If you ask me, the Council's foot-dragging behaviour has gone on long enough and Glasgow is now the only major council in Scotland not to have reached a settlement over its post-job evaluation pay arrangements.

So if the current leadership is unable or unwilling to face up to its responsibilities over equal pay, then it's time they made way for people who are prepared to end this saga.  


Glasgow and Equal Pay (05/12/16)

I sent the following email to all MSPs and MPs with seats in the Glasgow City Council  area earlier today including Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister.

As I've said on the blog site before Glasgow is now the only major council is Scotland not to have reached a satisfactory agreement over its post-job evaluation pay arrangements.

Neighbouring North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils did so recently and thousands of A4ES clients played a big part in persuading these two councils to come to their senses.

So let's hope that Glasgow's MSPs and MPs get behind their local constituents in the fight for equal pay in 2017.      


Glasgow and Equal Pay

I enclose three recent posts from my blog site regarding the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council.

If there is no sign of a negotiated settlement by the New Year, I suspect that many of the 5,500 A4ES clients in Glasgow will be seeking to make equal pay a major issue in the run-up to the local council elections in May 2017.

Kind regards

Mark Irvine


Calling Glasgow (02/12/16)

The blog site has seen a lot of traffic following yesterday's about Glasgow, but what I  need to do in the weeks ahead is build a network of active supporters who are willing to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Because the more people who Like, Share, Retweet and Follow my posts via Twitter and Facebook the stronger the message will be to Glasgow City Council.

If the current leadership of the Council are not part of the solution, then they are part of the problem if you ask me.

Glasgow is the only council in Scotland which has refused to reached agreement over their post-JE pay arrangements - in Glasgow's case this is known as the WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review). 

So if Glasgow's leaders are not prepared to face up to their obligations on equal pay, they should stand aside and make way for politicians who are prepared to do so.   


Calling Glasgow (01/12/16)Image result for calling + images

Glasgow City Council looks set to become the next big battleground in the long fight for equal pay as we approach the end of 2016.

As readers know, ever since the Employment Appeal Tribunal found in the claimants' favour (back in March) efforts have been made behind the scenes to establish whether GCC is prepared to resolve all the outstanding claims via a negotiated settlement.

In my view, this now looks increasingly unlikely and I suspect that the claimants are all just being 'strung along' in the hope of getting past next year's local council elections (due in May 2017) without too much argy bargy.

So I'm making an early New Year resolution to start the engines of a new A4ES campaign in January 2017, if there are still no signs of serious negotiations getting underway next month.  

The task I'll be setting myself is to make equal pay and Glasgow City Council's foot-dragging behaviour a major issue in the run-up to the May 2017 local elections.

Now I can't do this on my own, but A4ES has over 5,500 in Glasgow and I'll be aiming to stir people into action and create a network of local campaigners who are willing to turn the heat up on the Council in the early months of the New Year. 

Because if the present leadership of Glasgow City Council is not part of the solution, then it's part of the problem if you ask me.

I'll be writing much more on the blog site in the days ahead, but at the moment readers in Glasgow can help by Liking, Sharing and Retweeting this message on Facebook and Twitter.

Always remember that 'many hands make light work'.


Glasgow City Council Update

I said on the blog site recently that the fight for equal pay in Glasgow had gone quiet because the focus of events had shifted to the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The Court of Session (Scotland's highest civil court)) will hear an appeal from Glasgow City Council against the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (reported previously on the blog site) which was favourable to the claimants. 

A4ES has also made a 'cross appeal' to protect the interests of its 5,000 clients in Glasgow which has the potential to bring down the so-called 'Workforce Pay and Benefits Review' - Glasgow City Council's local job evaluation (JE) scheme.

The Court of Session has now listed the Glasgow Appeal for April/May 2017 which is great timing if you ask me, because this means that the case will be heard in the run-up to next year's local council elections.

Now I have said previously on the blog site that a negotiated settlement in Glasgow is in everyone's, but so far at least the City Council seems intent on a 'fight to the death' through the courts.

If you ask me this is a foolish strategy, because the original decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (in favour of the claimants) is sound and will be difficult to overturn at the Court of Session.

So if there is no progress to report by the end of 2016, I think it's fair to say that the City Council can expect fireworks in the New Year.

Because I will make it my business to ensure that equal pay becomes a major issue in the period leading up to the May 2017 council elections.

Glasgow and Equal Pay (20/12/16)

The BBC reports that the Scottish Government is again taking a pro-active role in relation to employers who face allegations of playing 'fast and loose' with their employees.

Amazon is the latest company to be upbraided by a local MSP, in this case the Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, in Fife who raised concerns on behalf of his local constituents in Fife.

Next thing you know the relevant minister (Keith Brown) is getting stuck in by asking sensible questions and making public comment, instead of saying that as an 'independent organisation' Amazon has nothing to do with him or the Scottish Government.

Now this is 'manna from heaven' to equal pay claimants because it's what I've been asking of Scottish politicians for years.

So let's hope this a good omen for a campaign to 'hold Glasgow City Council to account' over equal pay in the New Year. 



Minister's Amazon working conditions talks 'productive'

BBC Scotland politics

Image caption - Amazon has been accused of 'intolerable' working conditions at its largest UK distribution centre in Dunfermline

Scotland's economy secretary has held "productive" talks with Amazon after claims of unacceptable working conditions at its Fife depot.

Keith Brown said the firm agreed to "consider" his request to pay a "living wage" of £8.45 an hour.

He said they would have another meeting in two or three months' time.

The minister had previously said he was concerned by reports that staff at the Dunfermline site could be sacked for being off sick.

The Sunday Times claimed that workers could be dismissed for taking four days off, even if they had a sick note from a doctor.

The issue was raised in the Scottish Parliament, with North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie saying he had been contacted by constituents who reported "intolerable" working conditions.

Speaking after his visit to the Dunfermline "fulfilment centre" on Monday, Mr Brown said: "I had a productive meeting with senior members of Amazon's management team this afternoon and I asked them a series of questions around personnel and transport related-issues, which had been the subject of recent media reports.

Image caption - Economy Secretary Keith Brown had a meeting with Amazon managers at the Dunfermline site

"I then made a series of requests of the senior management team including in relation to becoming involved in our Fair Work agenda through the fair work convention, paying the real living wage and trade union activity in the workplace

"They have agreed to consider these requests and to a further meeting in the course of the next two to three months.

"These jobs are important to Scotland's economy - 4,500 at its current peak and 1,800 permanent employees - and so it's crucial that we continue to work with Amazon to help deliver fair work practices."

Amazon said all permanent and temporary Amazon workers started on £7.35 an hour or above, regardless of age, and £11 an hour and above for overtime.

A company spokeswoman said: "Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace with competitive pay and benefits from day one. We are proud to have been able to create several thousand new permanent roles in our UK fulfilment centres over the last five years.

"One of the reasons we've been able to attract so many people to join us is that we offer great jobs and a positive work environment with opportunities for growth."

Glasgow and Equal Pay (17/12/16)

The Scotsman takes the Queensferry Crossing 'low pay' dispute one step further with news that the Scottish Government has become involved via its transport minister Keith Brown.  

Now as I said the other day I only wish Labour MSPs had taken such a keen interest in the fight for equal pay which has been raging in Scottish local government for the past 12 years.

Nonetheless it's good to see Scottish ministers and politicians taking these issues seriously instead standing on the sidelines or pretending it's nothing to to with them.

In the Glasgow equal pay dispute many more workers are involved, 5,500 from Action 4 Equality Scotland alone, so I think we can expect to see some real fireworks from Glasgow's MSPs and MPs in the New Year.



Queensferry Crossing low pay probe moves forward
A view of the gap between the north and south sections of the Queensferry Crossing. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
A view of the gap between the north and south sections of the Queensferry Crossing. Picture: Jane Barlow

Economy Secretary Keith Brown will ask an arbitration service to work with the lead contractor building the Queensferry Crossing, Transport Scotland and a construction union to investigate allegations of low pay on the £1.4 billion project. 

Mr Brown met representatives from construction union UCATT and Labour MSP Neil Findlay at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday. Labour has called for a pay audit of the scheme after UCATT claimed Portuguese sub-contractor Sosia Ltd paid joiners £7.67 an hour and labourers £6.32 an hour - compared with the Construction Joint Industry Council agreement of minimum rates of £11.61 and £8.73 respectively. 

Mr Brown said: “It remains the responsibility of our contractor FCBC to manage matters relating to its workforce and sub-contractors. The Scottish Government will continue to work together with all parties to ensure that all obligations over workers’ rights, health and safety and pay are being met on the Forth Replacement Crossing project.”

Glasgow and Equal Pay (15/12/16)

I was interested in this piece from The Herald newspaper which reports that a Labour MSP (Neil Findlay) has called for an "urgent independent pay audit" on behalf of the workers employed on the new Queensferry Crossing across the River Forth.

Two points struck me as I read The Herald article:

1 Why didn't Labour MSPs show the same enthusiasm for independent pay audits during the long fight for equal pay?

2 If it's so easy for an individual MSP to get a quick and positive response from the Scottish Government , surely MSPs in Glasgow will be queuing up to support the A4ES campaign to hold Glasgow City Council to account over its  post-job evaluation pay arrangements? 

If claimants in Glasgow get behind this campaign (the trade unions are welcome to join in as well), I am confident we can make equal pay and the City Council's pay arrangements a big issue in the run-unto the local council elections in May 2017.


MSP calls for Queensferry Crossing probe as workers' pay and safety questioned

Jane Barlow/PA Wire

By Brian Donnelly - The Herald

AN MSP has called for an investigation into claims workers on the Queensferry Cressing have been paid below industry rates and are working amid health and safety breaches.

Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay has called for an "urgent independent pay audit of the workers engaged on the project", raising concerns about a Portugese sub-contractor and also pay rates for tradesmen it is claimed are £4 an hour below industry minimum.

He is to meet with Scottish Economy Secretary Keith Brown along with officials from construction union UCATT on Thursday and a Scottish Government spokesman said the audit would be one of the issues discussed at the meeting.