Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Fight For Equal Pay



I came across this post from the blog site archive which tells some of the story about the long fight for equal pay in Scotland's councils, but there's particular section I'd like to draw to people's attention and this is highlighted below for easy reference.

"In 2005 Action 4 Equality Scotland began to explain - for the first time - the huge pay gap between men and women’s jobs – and the ability of women workers to pursue equal pay claims to the employment tribunals.

"At first, the employers insisted that they had no equal pay issues - but as more and more employees voted with their feet by signing up with Action 4 Equality Scotland.

"In response, the unions and employers hastily cobbled together a new National Framework Agreement - issued as Scottish Joint Council Circular SJC/22 - which recognised there were ‘many valid equal pay claims in the workforce’.

"But exactly where had they been all this time?

"The SJC circular proposed compensation payments ranging from a minimum of £6,937 to a maximum of £13,875 (based on 37 hours and a maximum of 5 years service). Significantly, these figures were agreed without consultation with union members or the wider workforce.

"Yet, the original 1999 Single Status agreement was struck only after individual membership ballots - in all three signatory trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite).So, the unions were effectively dancing to the employers' tune - but without a mandate from their members.

"Glasgow City Council (Scotland’s largest council) led the way in making settlement offers to their employees – in the form of one-off cash buy-outs which diluted even the proposals contained in circular SJC/22.

"The employers refused to explain the basis of their offers- but often they were worth much less than 50% of the real value of people’s claims - in some cases around only 30%.

"In every case where Action 4 Equality Scotland has achieved a settlement – the value of the Action 4 Equality Scotland settlement has been significantly higher than that proposed by the employers and trade unions under circular SJC/22.

"The background to equal pay in Scotland should be seen in the context of a period of substantial growth - council budgets effectively doubled over the 10 years up to 2007/08.Yet equal pay never became a big enough priority for the employers or the unions during this period - despite their alleged support for equal opportunities and equal pay."

In the run-up to Christmas 2005 thousands of low paid women workers in Glasgow were effectively 'cheated' out of what they were really entitled to in terms of equal pay - because people were scared witless into accepting poor offers of settlement worth far less than the true value their claims.

The trade unions, of course, stood by and allowed this to happen which is why people are so angry and determined not to let this happen again in 2017.

 


A Short History (21/05/13)

Professor Stephen Hawking, the incredibly brainy astro-physicist - once wrote a book entitled 'A Brief History of Time' which I read with a great passion and interest - until my head hurt at least.

Now I can't compete with all of the mysteries of quantum mechanics and black holes - unless I can offer South Lanarkshire Council as a 'black hole' when it comes to Freedom of Information, of course.

But I was sufficiently inspired by Stephen Hawking to write my own brief history once upon a time - albeit in on the subject of 'equal pay'.

So here it is for your information and interest - A Short History of Equal Pay.

A Short History of Equal Pay (July 2010) 

Action 4 Equality began its activities on equal pay in Scotland in August 2005 - but before we arrived on the scene equal pay was dead a dead issue.

The landmark 1999 Single Status Agreement had still not been implemented in Scotland and had missed two implementation deadlines in 2002 - and again 2004.No significant activity was taking place in the employment tribunals over equal pay.

The trade unions had always said that legal action against the employers would follow - if collective bargaining failed to deliver change - but nothing happened as the original agreement was allowed to slowly wither and die.

In reality, both the trade unions and the council employers lacked the political will to end the widespread pay discrimination in Scottish local government – which they had both promised to sweep away in 1999.

In 2005 Action 4 Equality Scotland began to explain - for the first time - the huge pay gap between men and women’s jobs – and the ability of women workers to pursue equal pay claims to the employment tribunals.

At first, the employers insisted that they had no equal pay issues - but as more and more employees voted with their feet by signing up with Action 4 Equality Scotland.

In response, the unions and employers hastily cobbled together a new National Framework Agreement - issued as Scottish Joint Council Circular SJC/22 - which recognised there were ‘many valid equal pay claims in the workforce’.

But exactly where had they been all this time?

The SJC circular proposed compensation payments ranging from a minimum of £6,937 to a maximum of £13,875 (based on 37 hours and a maximum of 5 years service). Significantly, these figures were agreed without consultation with union members or the wider workforce.

Yet, the original 1999 Single Status agreement was struck only after individual membership ballots - in all three signatory trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite).So, the unions were effectively dancing to the employers' tune - but without a mandate from their members.

Glasgow City Council (Scotland’s largest council) led the way in making settlement offers to their employees – in the form of one-off cash buy-outs which diluted even the proposals contained in circular SJC/22.

The employers refused to explain the basis of their offers- but often they were worth much less than 50% of the real value of people’s claims - in some cases around only 30%.

In every case where Action 4 Equality Scotland has achieved a settlement – the value of the Action 4 Equality Scotland settlement has been significantly higher than that proposed by the employers and trade unions under circular SJC/22.

The background to equal pay in Scotland should be seen in the context of a period of substantial growth - council budgets effectively doubled over the 10 years up to 2007/08.Yet equal pay never became a big enough priority for the employers or the unions during this period - despite their alleged support for equal opportunities and equal pay.

The truth is that Action 4 Equality Scotland has been the catalyst for change - and the great thing is that well over 100,000 low paid, predominantly female, council workers have benefited - as a result.

Local Government and Equal Pay

Last year, the Scottish Parliament produced a report on equal pay - following a lengthy enquiry by the Local Government and Communities Committee (LGCC). More recently the committee invited further views - here's a summary of what I had to say.

Dear Convener

Local Government and Equal Pay

I refer to your letter dated 15 April 2010.

Action 4 Equality Scotland, in conjunction with Fox Cross Solicitors, has negotiated settlements with several councils over the past six months and our experience is that employers are becoming much more willing to settle cases when faced with a GMF (Genuine Material Factor) hearing.

A GMF hearing is where the employers have to explain, but also be able to justify their discriminatory pay practices. Because by the time a GMF hearing is held the pay gap between traditional male and female job groups has already been established as a matter of fact.

Faced with this situation at a GMF hearing, the employers, to be perfectly candid, have to either put up or shut up because there is nowhere left to hide.

Settlements in Glasgow City Council, North Ayrshire Council and Fife Councils followed once the GMF hearings were underway. In reality, the councils involved could all see which way these cases were going and, in the absence of any credible defences, they decided to settle on agreed terms rather than fight on all the way.

The City of Edinburgh and North Lanarkshire Councils have both followed suit - albeit on the eve of their respective GMF hearings.

The reluctance of the council employers to fight their cases all the way to an adjudicated settlement reflects the weakness of their case – both individually and collectively. If they had any realistic prospects of success, they would have soldiered on, but chose not to do so presumably based on their own legal advice and assessment of the risks involved.

As the Committee will recall, Action 4 Equality Scotland stated in its written and oral evidence last year that the legal issues involved in these cases are very clear and always have been since the Single Status Agreement was introduced in Scotland in 1999.

Sadly, the council employers refused to face up to their responsibilities and have dragged the process out to the detriment of thousands of low paid employees who should have benefited years ago from the introduction of Single Status.

The trade unions have had a major a role in this debacle and in the recent case involving Birmingham City Council, the trade unions admitted that they had been a barrier to change for many years. Ironically, the priority of the unions has always focused on defending the position of traditional male groups – rather than on improving the position of low paid women who make up the great majority of the workforce.

However, the Employment Tribunal in Birmingham in a landmark judgment decided that the employers are ultimately responsible for their own actions; they cannot hide behind the trade unions and use trade union intransigence as justification for widespread pay discrimination within the workforce.

Having worked closely with Scottish local government over the years, in my former role as Head of Local Government for Unions (Scotland), I would say that councils have been poorly served by COSLA's lack of leadership on equal pay. I attach a recent article from the Action 4 Equality Scotland blog site – A Short History of Equal Pay – which committee members might find of interest.

As far as future settlements are concerned, I would observe that several councils have applied to the Scottish Government for additional borrowing consents to meet the back pay costs of equal pay. My view is that these councils should be closely monitored to assess what progress is being made to resolve their outstanding cases.

One employer does merit special mention, South Lanarkshire Council, which claims to have implemented the Single Status Agreement in 2004. But pay discrimination is still widespread in South Lanarkshire and predominantly female jobs remain stuck firmly at the bottom of the pay ladder. South Lanarkshire refuses to publish basic pay information to explain the big pay gap between traditional male and female jobs. Because of the council’s refusal to behave openly and transparently 11 days were spent in the Employment Tribunals last year and a further 23 days have been set aside in 2010 – over what is essentially a very simple point.

Finally Action 4 Equality Scotland would be happy to attend any discussion – either at council level or Scotland wide – which is aimed at focusing on key strategic issues and potential test cases that could help speed the process up and bring the outstanding cases to a speedy conclusion.

Kind regards



Mark Irvine

Glasgow Pay Bombshell



Readers in Glasgow still fighting for equal pay will be interested to learn that the council employee with the largest remuneration package across the whole of the UK in 2010-11 was Glasgow City Council's very own Ian Drummond.

Now Ian Drummond was Glasgow's executive director of special projects at the time and according to the report below in The Telegraph the city council official received an eye watering sum of £450,628 that year including £109,000 for “compensation for loss of office” and £199,000 in pension contributions. 


The Telegraph newspaper famously broke the story on MPs' expenses at Westminster and its story in April 2012 certainly appears to have touched a raw nerve with GCC's spokesman who said:

“With local government facing unprecedented cuts, we simply cannot sustain the number of staff we once had.

“If the Taxpayers' Alliance was genuinely interested in public finances, it would realise that these are not simply normal salary costs - they include a redundancy deal that will save the public purse £45 million every single year.”


Now this is true, of course, because getting rid of highly paid senior officials did indeed save the council lots of money, but these individuals got what they were entitled to - they were not bullied or intimidated into accepting much less than they were due under redundancy and/or pension scheme regulations.

Yet compare how the city council's senior officials fared with the treatment meted out to equal pay claimants in the run-up to Christmas 2005.

On that occasion settlement payments were capped at just £9,000 (much less than they were really worth) and thousands of Glasgow's lowest paid workers were frightened into believing that they would 'lose everything', if they didn't accept the measly offer on the table. 

Ian Drummond played a big role in Christmas 2005 'buy-out' exercise if I recall correctly, as the City's Council's head of legal at that time, known affectionately by his nickname - 'The Prince of Darkness'.

Speaking personally, I always regarded Ian Drummond was someone you could do business with and this proved to be so in the negotiations with A4ES which followed, resulting in much higher and fairer settlements for A4ES clients in Glasgow.   

But the big question for Glasgow City Council in 2017 is: 

"How come senior officials are treated so well when thousands of the council's lowest paid workers are still fighting for equal pay?" 

  


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/council-spending/9223901/Record-number-of-council-staff-paid-over-100000-a-year.html

Record number of council staff paid over £100,000 a year

A record number of council officials are paid over £100,000 a year, new figures show.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: 'It proves there is significant scope to save taxpayers’ money by tackling the culture of dodgy pay deals and boomerang bosses that was the norm under Labour' Photo: PA



By Christopher Hope - The Telegraph (25 April 2012)

The analysis from the TaxPayers’ Alliance showed the number of council workers receiving more than the Prime Minister last year jumped by 10 per cent.

The alliance found that more than 3,000 senior council executives pocketed pay and perks packages in excess of £100,000 in its annual town hall rich list.

In all 3,097 town hall employees were awarded deals worth six figure sums in 2010-11, a hike of 13 per cent on the previous year. The figure is a record for the six years that the list has been compiled.

The alliance also found that 880 received in total more than the Prime Minister’s £142,500 salary, up 13 per cent from 777 in the year before. It also found 658 staff took home between £150,000 and £249,999, while 52 broke the £250,000 mark.

The alliance said some of the packages included redundancy payments but insisted that did not “wholly account” for the increase in high payouts.

The council employee with the largest remuneration package in the UK was Ian Drummond, executive director of special projects who received £450,628, including £109,000 for “compensation for loss of office” during the year and £199,000 in pension contributions.

Top of the Rich List when redundancy packages were excluded was Geoff Alltimes, then chief executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Council on £281,666.

Mr Alltimes no longer works for the council, which now shares the position of chief executive with another London council.

According to the study, the local authority with the most employees receiving more than £100,000 in 2010-11 was Barnet at 47 - something the council immediately claimed was untrue.

The report found Glasgow City Council had 25 members of staff with packages over £100,000, Cardiff City Council recorded 19 while Belfast City Council had just one.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TPA, said: “Taxpayers will be astonished that so many council employees are still getting such a generous deal while everyone else in the public sector is facing a pay freeze.

“The Town Hall Rich List shows that while councils insist cuts can only mean pressure on frontline services, some clearly have cash in the bank when it comes to paying their own senior staff.”

Top of the Rich List when redundancy packages were excluded was Geoff Alltimes, then chief executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Council on £281,666.

Mr Alltimes no longer works for the council, which now shares the position of chief executive with another London council.

A Barnet Council spokesman said: “The number is wrong. The Taxpayers' Alliance is cross referencing two lists that don't contain the same information. The council had 25 staff, including interim staff, on total remuneration over £100,000.

“A further 16 appear on the list because of redundancy payments and another six are teaching staff. This number of teaching staff also includes redundancies.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said Mr Drummond had since left the council. A spokesman: “With local government facing unprecedented cuts, we simply cannot sustain the number of staff we once had.

“If the Taxpayers' Alliance was genuinely interested in public finances, it would realise that these are not simply normal salary costs - they include a redundancy deal that will save the public purse £45 million every single year.”

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesman said its pursuit of value for money was “relentless” and sharing a chief executive with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was saving taxpayers £200,000 a year.

Government sources said most of the pay deals were agreed before the Coalition came into power, and ministers were trying to bear down on town hall pay.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “It proves there is significant scope to save taxpayers’ money by tackling the culture of dodgy pay deals and boomerang bosses that was the norm under Labour.”

The alliance said it based its report on local authorities' 2010-11 annual statement of accounts and where salary bands were provided it used the midpoint. 


Table note: 2010-11 remuneration is not limited to salary and also includes fees, allowances, expenses, compensation, employer pension contributions, election duties, benefits in kind, redundancy payments and other payments.

Weasel Words from Glasgow (08/02/17)


A kind reader has shared a response she received from Glasgow City Council after writing to its Labour leader, Councillor Frank McAveety.

Now Frank's been around the track once or twice so he must surely be embarrassed by the 'weasel words' which have been written on his behalf.

For a start, Glasgow City Council is now the only council in Scotland not to have dealt with the so-called protection and pay assimilation period which followed the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review in 2007. 

Neighbouring councils in North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire both recently resolved this issue, so there is no 'best use of public funds' or 'wider community interest' at stake here. 

Which means that Glasgow is on the hook just like other councils, except Glasgow is 10 years late after refusing to deal with the issue at the time, i.e. back in 2007.

So there is no dispute about whether or not a further 2nd Wave payment is required, the only issues are how much and over which time period?

A4ES says the pay of the women's jobs should have been levelled up to the same as the men before the WPBR came into force in 2007 - in which case the women are entitled to the same level of pay protection as the men.

Not just that, of course, since the WPBR has not been given a clean bill of health and Glasgow's local job evaluation scheme (the City Council refused to use the nationally approved scheme) forms part of the appeal to the Court of Session.

The other glaring point Frank fails to mention is that thousands of low paid workers in Glasgow were made very poor offers of settlement in the run-up to Christmas 2005.

Everyone caught up in that exercise (not the A4ES claimants) feel cheated and angry at the way they were treated - here's an extract from a recent post from the blog site (from 1 Feb) which explains the background and why people are so determined that they 'won't be fooled again'.

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.
As I said on the blog site recently, this may not have been down to Frank as he was an MSP in the Scottish Parliament in 2005, but the reality is that the buck stops with him now as Leader of the Council in 2017.

The Council's response also says that both sides are 'talking' which is technically correct although Glasgow is dragging its feet quite shamelessly. 

For example, at the last meeting with A4ES on 19 January 2017 the Council claimed they were unable to provide pay information because of ongoing industrial action in their IT section.

Embarrassingly, the industrial action ended that same day (19 Jan) which the Council clearly knew at the time, but still used this as a ridiculous excuse for not providing information which they had been promising to release for months.   

So if you ask me, it seems as if we are dealing with some cynical people who use weasel words when what's needed is some straight talking and a commitment to get the job done.

  


Cllr McAveety thanks you for your recent enquiry and has asked me to respond on his behalf.

A number of colleagues have written in about equal pay and have been asking when the Council will settle. In fact the Council settled equal pay in 2006. Unlike a good many other Councils all of these cases are now settled and the Council has had a pay and grading system in place that ensures equal treatment. This system has been tested twice in Court and has been approved each time.

The Council did not have a robust system of equal pay in place before 2006. It settled, quite rightly, those claims and put in place a robust system that made sure that this could not happen again. What is currently at issue is whether the Council should have put in place 3 years pay protection in 2006 for those whose income was due to fall. One Court supported this while another did not.    

Both sides have appealed but they are also talking to each other. This is a complex issue and because public funds are at stake the Council does need to act in the best interest of the entire community. I hope, however, that before too long one of the first Councils to resolve the source issue will be able to resolve this final point.

I hope that this answers your enquiry.

Yours sincerely,

Robert   



Robert Anderson
Head of Human Resources
Corporate Services
Glasgow City Council
Room G.20
40 John Street