Saturday, 29 April 2017

Glasgow's Pay Arrangements

A kind official in Glasgow City Council has sent me a pile of information regarding the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR).

I'm slowly working my way through all the documents, but one which caught my eye was a minute of a meeting detailing the trade union representation on a 'working group' that met on a regular basis with senior council management.

The Glasgow Unison branch was represented by various individuals including Mike Kirby whom regular readers will be familiar with since Mike has featured on the blog on a regular basis down the years.

I've also come across lots of useful information about the City Council's Employee Development Commitment (EDC), am interesting subject on which more will follow soon.


Iris and Mike 2 (01/04/17)

I promised to dig out some posts from the blog site archive highlighting the role played by North Lanarkshire's Iris Wylie and Glasgow's Mike Kirby during the long fight for equal pay. 

Iris has already retired from North Lanarkshire Council, I believe, while Mike moved on to become the regional secretary of Unison some time ago and is still based in Glasgow, as far as I know.

In any event, I wish them both well because they both did me a huge favour as far as the fight for equal pay is concerned, albeit without meaning to I suppose.

Although I do wonder if Iris and Mike have any trouble sleeping at night, because the people I meet on my equal pay travels in North Lanarkshire and Glasgow don't have a good word to say about either of them.


Performance Pay (29/10/14)

I'm not sure what performance bonus, if any, Iris Wylie received in 2013/14 as head of human resources in North Lanarkshire Council.  

But if Iris Wylie received a single penny it would be completely unjustified and a disgrace, if you ask me.

Because how can North Lanarkshire possibly believe it's right to reward senior managers with big bonus payments when the Council has made such a mess of equal pay?

A mess that council officials have been forced to admit at the ongoing Employment Tribunal in Glasgow although, as yet, no one has accepted responsibility or been held to account for a series on 'errors' and 'mistakes' in scoring and grading thousands of low paid jobs, including those of Home Care workers. 

Now North Lanarkshire's web site (see extract below) says that 21 chief officers outside the senior management team receive a performance bonus of between £4,684.68 and £9,485.11 which comes to between £98,378.28 and £199.187.31 a year.

What must other Council workers think, especially those still fighting for equal pay?

Other chief officers
Individual service delivery within each directorate is the responsibility of a Head of Service. There were 24* Heads of Service whose salaries in 2013/14 ranged between £17,076.98 and £94,580.19 plus performance-related pay between £4,684.68 and £9,485.11. The expenses reimbursed for this group in 2013/14 totals £1,245.65.
*There are 21 Head of Service posts but, due to promotion and retirement, a total of 24 people filled these posts in 2013/14.

North Lanarkshire Council (15 September 2014)

A number of readers have been in touch to ask if there is any further progress in the settlement talks with North Lanarkshire Council (NLC).

Well the current position is that discussions are still going on behind the scenes, but I am increasingly pessimistic that that these talks will produce a satisfactory outcome.

I suspect the reason that things are dragging on for so long is that the Council is still trying to undervalue many female dominated jobs even though North Lanarkshire has been forced to concede that so many of these jobs (e.g. the Home Carers) have been incorrectly 'scored' under the NLC job evaluation scheme. 

So, my view is that these cases will all be heading back to the Employment Tribunal where senior council managers, such as the head of human resources Iris Wylie, will have to face the QC who has been acting for the Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) clients, Daphne Romney.

Now I think it's fair to say that Daphne Romney has torn the Council's 'defence' apart and that's before she's had the opportunity to cross examine key figures such as Iris Wylie, who have an awful lot of explaining to do when they finally get into the witness box.

For example: 

  1. Who was responsible for committing all the 'mistakes' and 'errors' over the Council's job evaluation scheme (JES)? 
  2. How is it possible that so many 'mistakes' and 'errors' were made in scoring Home Carers' jobs, to name just one group.
  3. Why did the Council deny there was anything wrong for so many years and why has no one at a senior level been held to account?
  4. How did vital pay information regarding the JES go missing, why was there no back up of this data and who within the Council is responsible for what happened?
  5. How can anyone have confidence in the Council's ability to put things right when essentially the same group of senior officials are still in charge?
Maybe the best thing would be to call the Council's chief executive as a witness to the Employment Tribunal as well because the buck has to stop somewhere and Gavin Whitefield is head of the paid service in North Lanarkshire with a salary of £136,473 plus a 'performance' bonus of £11,039.20  

Performance Pay (1 September 2014)

Gavin Whitefield
Gavin Whitefield CBE, Chief Executive
The Chief Executive within North Lanarkshire is the council's chief policy advisor. He is the main link between council officials and elected members. He is responsible for corporate governance and seeks to ensure the co-ordination of the organisation and all its functions. Of primary concern to the Chief Executive is the overall direction and performance of the council.
Salary 2012/13: £136,473 (plus performance-related pay of £11,039.20

A Funny Thing Happened (04/04/14)

I was at Rory Bremner's 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Referendum' the other night at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

And do you know what? - a funny thing happened at 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Referendum' in the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow.

Because I spotted an old Unison chum in the foyer, Mike Kirby, who arrived with a female companion, Mike being the union's regional secretary in Scotland these days.

Now I thought for a crazy second or two that Mike was with his 'old flame', Iris Wylie (North Lanarkshire Council's head of personnel) and that perhaps they were there to take up my invitation to talk about equal pay and job evaluation in North Lanarkshire.

See post below 'Good to Talk' dated 15 March 2014.

But I quickly realised my mistake and that Mike was not there with his old partner, Iris Wylie, but with other friends, so I settled down to enjoy the evening's entertainment along with everyone else, somewhat relieved I have to admit, since business and pleasure seldom mix well in my experience.

Now most of the good jokes on the night were at the expense of the No campaign or 'Project Fear' as it's become known, which is becoming increasingly ridiculous of course

My personal favourite was that 'Scotland won't get to keep the Gulf Stream if we vote for independence' apparently,  so we're all going freeze to death, if the country votes Yes in September'. 

Boom boom!

Good to Talk (15 March 2014)

Iris Wylie, as the North Lanarkshire's Head of Personnel, is one of the key figures in what has been going on within the Council in recent years - in terms of Single Status, Equal Pay and Job Evaluation.

As I've pointed out to readers in previous posts, Iris Wylie is well connected in terms of the politics of equal pay, having previously been the partner of Mike Kirby, the long-time convener of Unison in Scotland and now the union's regional secretary. 

Now I don't know if Iris and Mike are still on speaking terms, but what I do know is that the situation is North Lanarkshire Council is a disgrace, if you ask me, and that someone, somewhere must surely accept responsibility for the complete hash the Council has managed to make of things.

As ever, I am prepared to let bygones be bygones, for the greater good so to speak, because the important issue now is the shabby way the Council's low paid workers (mainly women of course) have been treated, and how that situation is going to be put right.

So if Iris Wylie and/or Mike Kirby would like to meet up with me to see what can be done, then I for one would be happy do so - I'm sure it would be good to talk even after all these years. 

Small World (01/04/12)

I asked readers in North Lanarkshire for help the other day.

I wanted to know if people could help trace the background to the controversial North Lanarkshire Council bonus scheme - which has hit the newspaper headlines recently.

The one that seems to be restricted to only the most senior and highly paid officials - as far as anyone knows.

I asked readers if a reference (HR/IW) on the previously secret document - which has been dragged out of the council via an FOI request - might provide a clue.

Since then readers' suggestions have been flying in by e-mail and they all point in the same direction - that HR stands for Human Resources - and that IW stands for Iris Wylie, the council's Head of Human Resources.

Now that would make sense - why didn't I think of it before?

Because the name Iris Wylie is on the list as receiving a top-up or bonus payment of £5,758.56 - and HR is the obvious area of the council from which to seek advice on pay issues.

So who knows for sure? 

Maybe the council will explain the background properly and publicly - or maybe Iris Wylie will get in touch directly and fill in some of the the gaps in people's knowledge - which I'm happy to publish on the blog site.

I first met Iris Wylie years ago - but haven't seen her in the flesh for some time.

The last occasion I remember seeing Iris was at the Scottish TUC in Glasgow in 1999 - when she was 'stepping out' - so to speak - with the Scottish Convener of Unison, Mike Kirby.

Mike has since moved on from his role as convener and stepped up - so to speak - to become the union's regional secretary in Scotland - a full-time paid official in other words. 

Iris and Mike are both mentioned in a previous post to the blog site - one of the earliest posts in fact - going all the way back to April 2007. 

So it all just goes to show what a small world it really is - though that doesn't help to explain why a Labour council - yes a Labour council - would introduce a secret incentive pay scheme - or a bonus scheme for those at the top, as I think it should be called.

Especially one that rewards only the most senior council officials - and appears to exclude the vast majority of the workforce - many of whom are very low paid of course - and many of whom are still fighting for equal pay.

No wonder people are so cynical about politics and politicans these days - and that includes the politics of local government.

Dog's Dinner (23 January 2012)

Here's another old post from the blog site archive - which mentions North Lanarkshire Council in dispatches.

I wrote this almost five years ago - would you believe?

Yet many council employees in North Lanarkshire are still fighting for equal pay - all this time later.

So let's hope that 2012 is the year that North Lanarkshire finally gets its act together.

Maybe the prospect of elections in May will concentrate people's minds - and persuade the council's top brass to resolve all the outstanding claims.

Odd Allies and Strange Bedfellows (April 16th 2007)

North Lanarkshire won't win any prizes for the council's handling of equal pay, but it has thrown up some odd allies and strange bedfellows.

Take Jim McCabe, leader of the outgoing council. Now Jim is a decent enough fellow, not a political heavyweight, but an experienced Labour party man and a former Nupe (now Unison) shop steward. So, he understands all the issues when it comes to equal pay - or ought to at least.

Yet, Jim's greatest claim to fame is not fighting against discrimination or low pay. Oh no, he is best known locally for dropping his pants at the office Christmas party - much to the embarrassment of fellow guests.Jim followed up this PR disaster with another - by puffing away in his office during an interview with a journalist. Effectively, thumbing his nose at the council's strict no smoking policy and the Scottish Parliament's smoking ban. Guess what made the headlines!

Jim is also leader of the CoSLA Labour group - CoSLA being the umbrella body for Scotland's 32 local councils. In recent months, Jim has been joined at CoSLA by a new chum, Joe Di Paola. Joe has been appointed as the secretary/adviser to the employers' side of the collective bargaining machinery, which negotiates with the unions on a wide range of vital employment issues. Including, of course, equal pay.

The spooky thing is that - until very recently - Joe did exactly the same job for the trade union side and 'led' the negotiations on implementing equal pay (and single status) from 1999 to 2006. Negotiations that stalled and made absolutely no progress under Joe's stewardship. With a track record of failure, Joe has now jumped ship to the employers' side, but his new bosses should remember the old saying: "You can only ride two horses at the same time, if you were born with two arses."

One of Joe's best buddies in the whole world is Grahame Smith, another Labour 'placeman' and new general secretary of the STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress). As everyone knows, the STUC is the progressive and left leaning voice of the trade union movement. Needless to say, it's 100% in favour of equal opportunities, equal pay, motherhood and apple pie and so on. And the STUC is completely, utterly and resolutely against any form of discrimination. Oh yes!

What a surprise then that Grahame and the STUC's 'band of brothers' have been as quiet as church mice on equal pay - while one of the biggest employment rows to hit Scotland in years has raged in the press and media. The explanation is that General Council - the executive body that runs the STUC - is now controlled by only four big unions: Amicus, GMB, TGWU and Unison. So, they can appoint someone in their own image - absolutely tame, non-threatening and very much part of the establishment.

One of Grahame's General Council comrades is Mike Kirby - convener (senior lay member) of Unison Scotland since 1993 and key figure in the Unison Glasgow branch. A branch that kept their members in the dark about equal pay for years - then lost low paid workers thousands of pounds, by encouraging them to accept settlements that were worth much less than the real value of their claims.

Would things have been different with a woman at the figurehead at Unison? After all, women account for around 70% of the union's membership and had most to gain or lose. Mibbees aye, mibbees naw. The issue is more complicated than it seems because Mike's former long-time partner was none other than Iris Wylie - head of personnel at North Lanarkshire and key figure in the 'dog's dinner' that Scotland's 4th largest council has made of equal pay (back to where we started).

North Lanarkshire sat on its backside for years, then hurriedly cobbled together a new pay structure when Action 4 Equality arrived on the scene and let the cat out of the bag. The workforce threw the proposals out, following a secret ballot, so the council abruptly decided it would impose the new arrangements - the council didn't need the support of its employees and the trade unions after all. Wonder who gave the council this brilliant piece of advice?

So, the strange world of equal pay is laid bare for all to see - the wheels within wheels and strange goings on that connect North Lanarkshire Council, CoSLA, the Labour Party, the STUC, Unison and North Lanarkshire Council (again).

Scotland is such an interesting place to live and work.

Iris and Mike (23/03/17)

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:

Telephone - 0800 857 857

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:


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.