Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Glasgow - The Next Steps



Lots of readers have been in touch to ask about the 'next steps' in the fight for equal pay with Glasgow City Council which was given a huge boost with yesterday's victory in the Court of Session.

The City Council is now under new management following the local elections on 4 May 2017 and the new council leader, Cllr Susan Aitken, has already stated publicly that there will be no further appeals. 

So, presumably the City Council has finally realised that it's in a big hole and the first thing to do is to 'stop digging'.


Next Steps

The Court of Session appeal hearings in Edinburgh considered two main issues:
  • the pay protection arrangements put in place by Glasgow City Council (GCC) following the introduction of its WPBR pay scheme in 2006/07
  • the job evaluation (JE) side of the WPBR and its component parts - Core Pay, WCD and NSWP - which has been challenged by A4ES
The judgment of the court on 'pay protection' has gone in favour of the claimants and the previous decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal has been upheld - a further decision is now awaited on the job evaluation (JE) aspects of Glasgow's WPBR pay arrangements.

A4ES is now preparing to seize the initiative and move things forward.


Protection Period Claims

Winning pay protection in the Court of Session means that a further entitlement is now triggered for all existing claimants for the period from 2006/07 onwards - and at least until 2009.

If you ask, it's also very possible that pay protection claims could extend well beyond 2009 because Glasgow’s arrangements did not stop after just 3 years, as a result of the Council's Employee Development Commitment (EDC).

The EDC gave a guarantee (to male workers only) that the higher earnings of former bonus earning jobs, e.g. Gravediggers, Gardeners etc would be maintained at their previous levels  and without limit of time.

The trade unions threatened strike action to gain this further EDC concession from the Council, but this applied only to the former bonus earning, male comparator jobs.

For all their brave talk about championing equal pay the trade unions in Glasgow never threatened a similar campaign of industrial action to bring women workers' pay into line with their male comparators.

So thousands of female dominated women jobs lost out including: Home Carers, Cooks, Cleaners, Catering Workers, Clerical Staff, Classroom Assistants etc.


Glasgow's JE Scheme

If the Court of Session upholds the challenge to the JE scheme (WPBR) existing claimants will have further 'second wave' entitlement from 2006/07 to date (i.e. 2017) and also going forward until these cases are finally resolved.

If the Court of Session finds the WPBR to be unsatisfactory and not ‘fit for purpose’, this will opens up a whole new raft of claims for employees who have not registered an equal pay claim up until now. For existing council employees, a newly registered claim would jump back 5 years, in time i.e. to 2012, but could still be very significant.

Former employees may also be able to register new claims by taking action in the Sheriff Court (instead of the Employment Tribunals) which would potentially help thousands of ex-GCC workers who left their employment over the past 5 years  without registering an equal pay claim.

A4ES is now prepared to consider lodging new claims on the basis that these will be actively pursued in the event of a favourable judgement from the Court of Session in respect of the City Council's JE and WPBR pay arrangements. 

Waiting until the decision is actually released and its implications assessed will delay the starting date of any new claim, so it makes sense for potential claimants to act now and protect their interests.


Settlement Discussions with GCC

A4ES remains willing to enter into settlement discussions with the City Council, but the previous Labour-run administration failed to engage seriously on this issue between August 2016 and January 2017.

So before any serious negotiations could get underway, the City Council would need to ‘open the books', as it were, to allow the size and scale of any possible settlement to be fairly and properly assessed. 

Up until now the City Council has failed to deliver the pay information to explain fully the workings of the WPBR or, for example, its Employee Development Commitment to former bonus earning workers.


Enquiries and Further Information

If any readers in Glasgow would like to pursue this further, please contact Action 4 Equality Scotland at the following email address: enquiries@action4equality.co.uk - or ring A4ES on: 0131 659 9958. 

If you cannot get through by phone straight away (because of the volumes of calls), please leave a message and someone will get back to you as quickly as possible.


   

Glasgow Equal Pay News

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Keep up with all the equal pay news in Glasgow by following me on Facebook and Twitter -  

All you need is a mobile phone!


    


Glasgow and Equal Pay (25/05/17)


I received an email the other day from a reader in Glasgow asking if I could send out updates by post, for the benefit of people who don't have access to the internet. 

Here's what I said in reply:

Hi Ann

I update my blog site several times a week, as you probably know, so it's really not possible for me to produce separate briefings for individuals or small groups - I just don't have the time.

I also do put all the equal pay blog posts on Twitter and Facebook.

So anyone with a mobile phone (which is just about everyone these days) can follow me on Twitter or Facebook and get access to my blog site that way.

Here's my Twitter address -  - and a quick search on Facebook will bring up my A4ES pages. 

Hope that helps.

Kind regards



Mark

So for anyone who doesn't have a computer-based internet access at home - there is more than one way to skin this cat by using Twitter and Facebook

    

Trade Unions and Equal Pay



I said yesterday that the unions in Glasgow should be thoroughly ashamed of their behaviour in relation to equal pay and here is a post from the blog site archive explaining why.

Because while Unison was warmly welcoming the 'pay protection' decision from the Court of Session in May 2017 - back in December 2006 the Glasgow Unison branch was threatening industrial action to secure special treatment for bonus earning, traditional male jobs.

A minute of Glasgow City Counci's Executive Committee (dated 8 December 2006) makes the position crystal clear: the union threatened strike action to maintain the higher earnings of 'red circled jobs' yet the pay of the council's women workers was never brought into line with the pay of their male comparators.

Which is, of course, the key point from the Court of Session judgment - that women workers in Glasgow were treated completely differently and much less favourably than their male colleagues although this didn't stop Unison's Mike Kirby from saying yesterday:

“The pay protection win is great news. The way Glasgow rates and pays workers has been the source of conflict and division for ten years. These women have already waited long enough to receive the pay they have worked hard for and deserve. It's time for Glasgow City Council to do the right thing and pay up on equal pay.” 

Now that's really rich, but it demonstrates perfectly why the trade unions have lost all credibility over equal pay in Glasgow, and elsewhere, because they've been caught out saying one thing, then doing another time and again. 

If you ask me, Brasso would be the ideal gift for polishing-up their brass necks.

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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 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.

   


Glasgow's Pay Arrangements (02/03/17)


A contact of mine in Glasgow City Council has been in touch to say that a 'deal' was done between the Council and the trade unions back in 2006 - before the (WPBR) Workforce Pay and Benefits Review was introduced in 2007.

Apparently, this 'deal' with the unions guaranteed more favourable treatment to the Council's traditional male, bonus earning jobs - compared to women Council workers in non-bonus earning jobs (carers, cooks, cleaners, catering workers and so on).

Now if this proves to be correct, Glasgow will have behaved in exactly the same way as its near neighbours in North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils both of which are Labour-run councils, of course. 

I can't think of a bigger bombshell, I have to say, because this would be the equivalent of finding a 'smoking gun' after years of hand-to-hand combat with the City Council over its handling of equal pay. 

So I am patiently waiting on further details and if my Glasgow contact comes up with the goods, I'll share the details on the blog site.



  

Track Records and Equal Pay



More comments from readers who think the trade unions have a 'brass neck' for their spineless behaviour over the fight for equal pay in Glasgow.

As regular readers know, the GMB union is not even part of the challenge to the Council's job evaluation (JE) scheme and WPBR pay arrangements!


"Shameful behaviour from the collective unions and well done Mark again!"

L




"NLC workers know the truth on that"



M



"Well done on YOUR (not Unison's!) victory in Glasgow.

"Your constant, ongoing fight for fairness is very much appreciated

"Many Thanks"


G


More to follow - so watch this space.


  



Track Records and Equal Pay (30/05/17)



I'll have more to say in the next few days about the role the trade unions have played in the long fight for equal pay in Glasgow - for the most part it's awful one, if you ask me.

But council workers in Glasgow are not fooled by the unions trying to jump on the equal pay bandwagon at the last minute and trying claiming credit for lead shown by Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES).

Here are just a few of the comments I've received today: 


"You and everyone else have done an excellent job. And for the trade unions to jump on the bandwagon is typical."

J


"You're way ahead in the game and putting in great work"

B



"Both Unison and GMB Claiming all your hard work"

M


"HUGE CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU for the support yourself and team have given us in the long standing fight against GCC on equal pay. Fingers crossed the outcome for the JE and WPBR will be a positive outcome to.

"Below is a copy of the email being sent by GMB union to their members.They have the audacity to give themselves a huge pat on the back. These unions have no shame."

S

The trade unions should be thoroughly ashamed of their behaviour over the years which is why the vast majority of Glasgow claimants are pursuing their equal pay claims with A4ES. 


  


Glasgow and Equal Pay (30/05/17)


I laughed my head off when I read the comment from Unison on the big decision from the Court of Session on equal pay in Glasgow City Council.   

Now I'm well used to the trade unions trying to take credit for work done by Action 4 Equality Scotland, but the following words from Unison's regional secretary, Mike Kirby, take the biscuit if you ask me:

“The pay protection win is great news. The way Glasgow rates and pays workers has been the source of conflict and division for ten years. These women have already waited long enough to receive the pay they have worked hard for and deserve. It's time for Glasgow City Council to do the right thing and pay up on equal pay.”

The reason being that prior to becoming Unison's regional secretary in Scotland, Mike Kirby was an influential figure in the Glasgow Unison branch where the local trade unions:

  • kept their women members in the dark for years over the huge pay differences between traditional male and female jobs
  • stood by and allowed the City Council to 'dupe' low paid women workers into accepting poor offers of settlement in the run up to Christmas 2005
  • agreed with Council management to place a 'cap' on those first wave equal pay settlements worth only a maximum of £9,000 - when people's claims were worth much more
  • threatened strike action maintain the higher, bonus related pay of male workers without demanding the same treatment for women workers who make up 70% of the council's workforce 
No wonder the vast majority of Glasgow City Council employees are pursuing their equal pay claims with Action 4 Equality Scotland because we have led this fight from Day One.

  


Glasgow - Court of Session (30/05/17)


Glasgow City Council has lost its equal pay appeal which was heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh from 25th to 27th April 2017.

Scotland's highest civil court has agreed that Glasgow's women workers were entitled to the same pay protection as their male colleagues which means the Council has lost yet another round in this long-running battle over equal pay on behalf of its lowest paid employees.

The Court of Session has still to publish its decision on the second part of the appeal which challenges Glasgow's local job evaluation (JE) scheme and the City Council's WPBR pay arrangements.

Nonetheless, the 'pay protection' decision on its own represents a considerable victory for thousands of low paid, predominantly female claimants including: home carers, cooks cleaners, catering workers, clerical staff and classroom assistants.

Welcoming the decision Stefan Cross QC said:

"The A4ES legal team did a great job in the Court of Session and we are delighted that the three judges upheld the earlier decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal which ruled in favour of the claimants.

"We look forward to the Court's decision in the second part of the appeal. If this is upheld as well, there is bound to be a huge influx of new cases against the City Council which has stubbornly refused to face up to its equal pay obligations for the past ten years."

More news to follow soon, so watch this space.

  


Glasgow - Court of Session (29/05/17)


The big news this bank holiday weekend is that the Court of Session will release the first part of its decision on the Glasgow equal pay cases tomorrow - Tuesday 30 May 2017.

As regular readers know, the appeal is in two parts and tomorrow's decision will focus on the 'pay protection' part of the claim; the A4ES-led challenge to Glasgow's job evaluation (JE) scheme and WPBR pay arrangements will follow in due course.

Now the decision is being released sooner than expected, certainly a lot earlier than at least one of the trade unions was predicting just days ago and as reported on the blog site previously the GMB union is not part of the appeal over the City Council's JE scheme and WPBR pay arrangements.

The implications of the Court's decision are explained in the two posts posts below and tomorrow promises to be a big day one way or the other.

So fingers crossed - I'll share the news on the blog as soon as I've had time to read and understand what the Court of Session has to say. 

  



Glasgow - Court of Session (25/05/17)


As regular readers know, two important appeals involving Glasgow City Council were heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh recently, ending on 4 May 2017 - the same day as the local elections.

The written decision of the court may be some time off, but here is my personal impression  of how things went and the big issues at stake.


Protection Period Claims

In the first part of the appeal the court heard about Glasgow’s pay protection arrangements and the City Council's commitment to maintain the earnings of former bonus earners at their previous levels via its Employee Development Commitment  (EDC) - without first of all bringing the pay of the women into line with the higher pay of the men.

The upshot being that when the WPBR was introduced in 2006/07 women workers were in a much less favourable financial position because their pay was thousands of pounds a year behind their bonus earning male comparators.

So before WPBR came into play a Home Carer on £12,000 (basic pay) and Grade MW5 was being paid much less than a Gravedigger on the lower grade of MW3 because bonus pay took his earnings to @£22,000 a year.

After the WPBR a Home Carer and Gravedigger ended up on the same PESB 3 Grade, but a Gravedigger’s earnings remained at @£22,000 while the Home Carer’s increased to only @£15,000.

So, the effect of WPBR was to preserve the higher, bonus-related pay of male comparator jobs - rather than to substantially improve the lot of the women’s jobs which had been undervalued and underpaid for many years.

The trade unions seemed to share this objective and a Council minute of December 2006 confirms that the unions threatened strike action in support of maintaining the earnings of the male dominated ‘red circled’ jobs.

Yet strike action was never threatened over the demand for 'equal pay for work of equal value' which would have brought the pay of Glasgow's women workers (the majority of the workforce) into line with the higher earnings of their male comparators.

If the 'protection part' of the Court of Session case is upheld, this will extend the period of people's second wave equal pay claims until at least 2009, i.e. until the pay preservation arrangements for the male comparator jobs came to an end.


Glasgow's Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) 

The judges spent a lot of time trying to get their heads round the rationale behind the WPBR which is Glasgow’s name for its own ‘in-house’ job evaluation (JE) scheme and associated pay arrangements.

Glasgow did not use the Gauge JE scheme which had been developed alongside the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement and which was recommend for use across Scotland by CoSLA (the employers umbrella body) and the national trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite).

For some reason, Glasgow City Council decided to call in an external consultant to work up its own ‘in-house’ scheme based on one previously used in Greater London. Even more bizarrely, the trade unions in Glasgow went along with the council’s plans without putting up any resistance.

If you ask me, the local trade unions lacked the expertise and knowledge required to deal with a completely new JE scheme and let their low paid members down because local union reps were completely out of their depth.


Core Pay and Job Evaluation

The judges had difficulty in grasping the different elements of Glasgow’s WPBR which were explained as Core Pay (Basic Pay), a separate payment for Working Context and Demands (WCD) and another payment for Non-Standard Working Pattern (NSWP) - the latter replacing shift payments or unsocial hours pay.

Only the Core Pay element related directly to objective job evaluation criteria which assessed different jobs on the basis of their skills and responsibilities, using a combination of factors and weightings, before awarding a new Grade and a place on the pay ladder.

WCD and NSWP relied upon new local ‘rules’ determined by the City Council (with input from the trade unions), but many of these were drawn in such a way as to deliver a desired outcome. For example, the arbitrary rule that says only employees working 37 hours can receive 7 (working hours) points under the NSWP element of the scheme - which was worth £800  a year in 2006 (see posts below).

The effect of WCD and NSWP allowed the City Council to maintain the higher pay of former bonus earning groups beyond the original 3 year protection period, even though these two elements of pay were not related to the grade of the job. 

In other words, having gone to all the trouble of introducing a objective JE scheme with evaluation criteria based on the skills and responsibilities of people's jobs, the City Council created another set of 'rules' which disproportionately benefited the former bonus earning male groups.

If the challenge to the Glasgow JE scheme succeeds, the WPBR will fall away and the result is that women doing work of 'equal value' to the men will be entitled to the same pay as their male comparators - both up until now (from 2006/07) and going forward from 2017. 

A successful challenge to the WPBR will also open the door to a whole raft of new claims in addition to those from existing A4ES clients. 
NB The GMB union did not support the A4ES led challenge to Glasgow's WPBR at the recent appeal hearing in the Court of Session. The GMB has restricted its claims to the protection period only. 


Court of Session Decision

The next steps in the fight for equal pay in Glasgow will hinge on the decision of the Court of Session. If the written judgment favours the claimants, Glasgow City Council will find itself in a similar position to North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire councils.

So fingers crossed and watch this space.