Thursday, 2 February 2017

Make Glasgow Honest Again

I said on the blog site the yesterday that I was about to open another FoI (Freedom of Information) front in the fight for equal pay with Labour-run Glasgow City Council.

Well here's the first in a series of FoI requests which are being sent to the City Council's chief executive, Annemarie O'Donnell, others will follow in the days ahead.

1 February 2017
Annemarie O'Donnell
Chief Executive
Glasgow City Council

Dear Ms O'Donnell

FOISA Request
I would like to make the following request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. 
Please provide me with anonymised pay information relating to the following City Council post for the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010:
  1. The highest earning City Council Gardener 1 post (Reference SJ043 - Grade 1)
  2. The total earnings for the post (for each year) excluding any overtime payments
  3. The basic annual salary and annual Spinal Column Point for the post
  4. The hourly rate and hourly Spinal Column Point for the post
I look forward to your reply and would be grateful if you could respond to me by e-mail at:

Kind regards

Mark Irvine 

Now the purpose of this request is to put the facts on the table regarding the pay arrangements for the City Council's former bonus earning (male) jobs following the introduction of Glasgow's Workforce Pay and Benefits review in 2006/07.

All that's being asked is for Glasgow City Council to come clean and share this data in an anonymised format, so that a fair and honest assessment can be made of the outstanding equal pay claims.    

Just ask yourself, "Why would senior management and elected officials in Glasgow refuse to provide this information, if the City Council has nothing to hide?"

As regular readers know, I have plenty of experience in dealing with FoI requests and I have used these in previous equal pay campaigns, notably in North Lanarkshire (NLC) and South Lanarkshire (SLC) councils.

NLC and SLC (both Labour-run by the way) initially refused to provide the details I requested, but were eventually forced to 'spill the beans' by the Scottish Information Commissioner and UK Supreme Court.

South Lanarkshire ran up a huge legal bill fighting its case all the way to the UK Supreme Court in London having lost the argument with the Scottish Information Commissioner and Scotland's Court of Session.

South Lanarkshire is also where the local trade unions actively discouraged their members from pursuing equal pay claims against the local Labour council. 

So we shall see what happens - Glasgow has 20 working days to respond to my request, but after the way people been treated in relation to equal pay you would think the Council leadership would be falling over themselves to do the right thing by the workforce in 2017.

If you ask me, what Glasgow needs is some honesty and straight talking.


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.