Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Glasgow and Equal Pay

I attended an excellent meeting in the Jenniburn Centre (Castlemilk) on the ongoing fight for equal pay in Glasgow - with a lively audience of Home Carers.

A wide range of subjects were discussed which are summarised briefly below:

The basis of people's claims
The 2nd wave of claims in Glasgow (as in other councils) stems from the 'protection and assimilation' period following the introduction of a new job evaluation scheme (JES) in 2007, known in Glasgow as the WPBR. Protection and assimilation covered a 3 year period from 2007 onwards at least, possibly 4 or even 5 years. Unlike other councils, Glasgow refused to deal with this period at the time of settling its 1st Wave claims in 2005/06.  

Council 'buy-outs' - Christmas 2005
Lots of people are understandably still very angry at being pressurised into accepting very poor offers of settlement in the run-up to Christmas 2005. In plain language people felt they were bullied and intimidated into accepting these offers which were capped at a maximum of only £9,000 - because they were frightened into believing that they would probably lose everything, if they continued with their claims to the Employment Tribunals.

The role of the trade unions
The trade unions in Glasgow had agreed the £9,000 cap with the City Council and were left looking foolish when far higher settlements were achieved by Action 4 Equality Scotland. As a result, the trade unions in Glasgow (and elsewhere) lost credibility with their own members after siding with management and the employers over equal pay, which is why the vast majority of claimants in Glasgow (around 6,000) are now with A4ES.

Lack of transparency
Glasgow's pay arrangements from 2007 onwards are still very murky far from clear, as far as the former bonus earning male jobs are concerned. A4ES has been urging the Council to come clean and put the facts on the table so that there can be a fair and honest assessment of the scale of the outstanding 2nd Wave claims. The size of individual claims depends on the pay gap between claimant jobs (such as Home Carers) and their male comparators.  All the indications are that these 2nd Wave claims are 'significant' although it is impossible to state a clear figure at this time.  

Pay information on male comparator jobs
Given the Council's foot-dragging behaviour a new freedom of information (FoI) campaign is about to get underway focusing on the pay differences between traditional male and female jobs, which will be similar to the campaign run in North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils. A4ES claimants are bound to know or perhaps even be related to male workers in some of the comparator jobs such as Refuse Workers, Gardeners, Gravediggers and Road Workers. If so, Mark Irvine would be very interested in having a confidential chat.

Local council elections
My aim over the next few months is to step up the campaign for Glasgow City Council to come clean and put the facts on the table. Having been 'cheated' once (Christmas 2005) people are in no mood to allow the same thing to happen again. One suggestion under active consideration is to stand an 'Equal Pay' candidate in the May council elections in the Glasgow Shettleston backyard of the current City Council leader, Frank McAveety, as a way of highlighting the ruling Labour group's mishandling of equal pay over many years.

Contact with MSPs and MPs
Scotland's First Minister stated publicly last year that the Scottish Government would get tough with any councils who are dragging their feet over equal pay. Well Glasgow is now the only council in Scotland not to have reached a settlement over the 'protection and assimilation' period following the introduction of new JE-related pay arrangements. So Glasgow MSPs and MPs have a big role to play in putting pressure on the City Council to come clean, explain its pay arrangements and finally do the right thing by its workforce.

Many hands make light work
The more people who get behind the campaign to hold Glasgow to account the sooner the whole business will be over. North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Council also fought tooth and nail stop their employees from understanding the truth about the pay differences between male and female jobs, but they both had to admit defeat in the end. One way or the other Glasgow, as Scotland's largest council, has to face up to its responsibilities over equal pay.

Now I would like to see lots more of these meetings taking place over the next couple of months in the run up to the local council elections on 4th May 2017.

Because if the current leaders of the City Council are not prepared to do the right thing after all this time, then they deserve to be slung out on their ear.