Thursday, 23 March 2017

Iris and Mike



I said recently on the blog site that I'd try to dig out some posts from the archive to highlight the role played by North Lanarkshire's Iris Wylie and Unison's Mike Kirby in the long fight for equal pay.

As regular readers will recall Iris was NLC's head of human resources until recently and Mike was a 'big cheese' in the Unison Glasgow branch back in 2005 when the City Council  was trailing all over its female dominated workforce in relation to equal pay.

Iris and Mike were an 'item' some years ago and from time to time featured in the blog site, but not always in a good way.

So watch this space in the days ahead.



  



Glasgow's Pay Arrangements (14/03/17)



Lots of angry Unison members have been in touch about the Smoking Gun post I published the other day about Glasgow City Council's pay arrangements.

Sharp-eyed readers have noticed that the Council's decision to put a 'safety-net' under the WPBR process for male dominated jobs that were expected to lose out after job evaluation was in response to industrial action threatened by Unison back in December 2006.

"What the hell was Unison thinking?" - is the general tone of comments people have shared with me.

I have to admit I have absolutely no idea because the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement was always intended to benefit the thousands of female dominated jobs which had been so badly underpaid and undervalued for years.

The trade unions in Glasgow also sat back when the City Council was bullying and pressurising low aid women workers to accept very poor offers of settlement in the run-up to Christmas 2005.

Strikes and industrial action were never threatened to protect the interests of those women workers which rather speaks for itself, if you ask me.

I haven't heard much about Unison recently, part from their 'Justice of Jannies' campaign, but as I recall a key figure in the local Glasgow Unison branch (in (2005/06) was Mike Kirby who is now the union's regional secretary in Scotland.

Regular readers will remember that Mike was at one time the significant other of Iris Wylie, the head of personnel at Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council which also made a real dog's dinner of equal pay.

If I can track them down, I will publish some of the posts from the blog site archive regarding Iris and Mike, but a quick check on the internet reveals that Mike is now based at Unison's Scottish headquarters at 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX.

And here are Mike Kirby's contact details according to the Unison Scotland web site which you can find at: http://www.unison-scotland.org/about-us/whos-who/

Telephone - 0800 857 857
Email m.kirby@unison.co.uk

Who knows, maybe I'l invite Mike along to one of the A4ES equal pay meetings in the run-up to the local council elections on 4th May 2017.

  


Glasgow's Pay Arrangements (10/03/17)

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Glasgow City Council has been left looking ridiculous after the revelation that at the same time as introducing new and supposedly 'equal pay proofed' pay arrangements, the Council also agreed to maintain pay differentials (the 'pay gap') between male and female jobs. 
Now this is a completely nonsensical if you ask me, an impossible paradox, an equal pay version of Catch 22.

Because you can't really be serious about achieving equal pay if lower paid, female dominated council jobs (70% of the workforce) are forever prevented from catching up with their higher paid male colleagues. 

So what were the City Council's senior officials thinking and what do they have to say for themselves?

Unison also has a lot to answer for, of course, because the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement was all about tackling low pay amongst the thousands of female dominated jobs that had been undervalued for years: carers, cooks, cleaners, catering staff, clerical workers, classroom assistants etc etc.

The legal side of this dispute is proceeding via the Court of Session, but claimants in Glasgow can also make a big difference by getting involved in the campaign to hold the City Council to account.

If you ask me, the leader of the City Council Cllr Frank McAveety has a duty to explain how Glasgow got into such mess and readers may wish to drop Frank a note via his email and/or Twitter address:

Email: frank.mcaveety@glasgow.gov.uk


Twitter: @FMcAveety

If you do, keep me posted on what Frank has to say.

   

Glasgow's Smoking Gun (09/03/17)

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I've had a lot of interest in my 'Smoking Gun' post about Glasgow City Council's pay arrangements from earlier today.

Now I'll have more to say on this subject tomorrow, but if you ask me the question that ought to be uppermost in people's minds is:

"How can an employer like Glasgow City Council possibly deliver on its commitment to equal pay, if they set out at the same time to maintain pay differentials and the 'pay gap' between make and female jobs?"

The same question should also be asked of the trade unions, of course, though I'll set that aside for another day.

In the meantime, what do readers think about the latest revelations from Glasgow?

Drop me a note and I'll share people's thoughts on the blog site - without mentioning anyone's name or personal details, for obvious reasons.

  


Glasgow's Smoking Gun (09/03/17)

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Here is a very important minute from a meeting of Glasgow City Council's Executive Committee held on 8th December 2006.

The Council's Executive Committee was chaired by the Council leader with other elected councillors and senior officials in attendance.

"Workforce pay and benefits review - Outcome of negotiations with UNISON noted.

"3 In terms of Standing Order Nos 4 and 6, as a matter of urgency, the Chief Executive reported that following a ballot of its membership, UNISON had intimated that they intended to take Industrial Action on 5th, 6th and 7th December 2006 in connection with the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR).

"Following meetings with UNISON culminating in a meeting on 4th December 2006, UNISON had called off the Strike Action on the basis of the following understanding:-

"2006-2007 EXECUTIVE 5 8th DECEMBER 2006 694

“The Council is committed to assisting individual employees who are in a loss of earnings position as a result of the WPBR and has given a clear commitment to ensure all appropriate action is taken to provide such employees with the opportunity to move to a higher level post, thus allowing maintenance of their earnings in the long term.

"Development plans and service redesign are the two main means of achieving the objective stated above. It is the clear intention to have agreed plans in place for all relevant staff, which are capable of delivery by March 2009.

"The Council was prepared to agree an extension beyond March 2009 where it has not been possible to complete the development plan and/or where service redesign has not been practically implemented.

"After consideration, the committee noted the position."

Now in terms of equal pay this City Council minute is a real bombshell - a smoking gun, if you like.

Because the document confirms that Glasgow City Council did a deal with the trade unions to maintain the higher, bonus-related earnings of traditional male jobs.

As regular readers know that is essentially what happened in neighbouring North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils of course, both Labour-run councils, as regular readers will be aware.

The key point is that in settling previous equal pay claims (prior to the introduction of the WPBR) the City Council accepted that its pay arrangements were discriminatory - and that many female dominated jobs were being paid much less than their male 'comparators' even when the women's jobs were on the same or a higher grade.

So while a Home Carer was on an hourly rate of, say, £6.00 an hour a Refuse Worker, a Gardener or a Gravedigger were being paid between £9.00 - £12.00 an hour when their big (50% and more) bonus payments were taken in account.

Just as in other councils across Scotland, female dominated jobs in Glasgow did not attract these bonus payments, so women in the same or often in higher grades were being paid far less than their male colleagues for doing 'work of equal value'.   

Glasgow City Council accepted this position and the fact that the Council had no proper justification for these big pay differences between male and female jobs which led to a settlement of what became known as the '1st Wave' of equal pay claims. 

So prior to the introduction of the WPBR in 2007 the Council had a duty to bring the pay of male and female jobs into line with each other - otherwise traditional male jobs entered the WPBR with higher pay and a hugely advantageous starting position.

In other words the hourly rate of pay of the women's jobs should have been increased to the same as their comparators (£9.00 - £12.00 an hour) to put female workers on exactly the same footing as the male workers.

Think about this in the context of a competition: it's like a game of musical chairs in which some people take part only after being guaranteed they can keep their own chair, or a 100 mixed metre sprint in which some of the runners (but just the male ones) are already half way (or more) towards the finishing line.

If the City Council's Home Carers (to name one group) had been treated in the same way as Refuse Workers, Gardeners and Gravediggers, the fact is that they would have entered the WPBR process with a much higher rate of pay plus with a copper-bottomed guarantee that this higher rate of pay could not fall after the WPBR was introduced.

In short the Home Carers along with many other female dominated jobs were treated very differently and less favourably than their male colleagues, like second class citizens, if you ask me. 

Because Scotland's landmark 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement was always about closing the pay gap with higher paid (predominantly male) jobs by tackling low pay amongst the thousands of female dominated council jobs which had been badly undervalued for years.

Yet Glasgow's Executive Committee minute from December 2006 is clear evidence that priority was given to maintaining existing pay differentials (the 'pay gap') by continuing to protect the higher pay of male dominated jobs - without offering the same 'deal' to the council's women workers

The upshot is that Glasgow City Council and the trade unions should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for yet again failing to stand up for the interests of a largely female workforce.