Friday, 30 June 2017

Glasgow and Equal Pay



Here's the letter from the GMB's Gary Smith which I mentioned briefly on the blog site yesterday. 

GS/LHC
29th June 2017

Dear GMB Member,

The legal action around Pay Protection / Equal Pay has been long and drawn out. The whole situation with Equal Pay is complex and it is further complicated by the appeal over the Glasgow City Council job evaluation process. As a union we have tried to communicate as best we can on the union's position on the cases.

As you know private solicitors are also involved in the cases against Glasgow City Council. These solicitors are driven by profit. They make money from the claimants they represent. The private solicitors will take money from any settlement. That is not the case with members of GMB Scotland. Every penny GMB Scotland secures for you through our solicitors Thompsons will go to you as an individual. We believe Thompsons are the preeminent Equal Pay lawyers in Scotland that's why we have appointed them to represent your interests.

We understand that some of the private solicitors appear to be making comments about the GMB and the trade unions in general which are causing confusion and concern to our members. GMB Scotland will not be responding to all the comments made by the private solicitors. When we have something we can communicate to our members we will and it will be done in a totally transparent way.

I understand that our staff at GMB Scotland have received a few abusive phone calls. I know this whole issue is frustrating for members but I will not tolerate our staff being abused; they are just workers like everyone else. If anyone feels that their interests would be better served by the private lawyers then they are free transfer their case to them.

Those who are members of GMB Scotland can be assured our lawyers will do all they can to get your equal pay claim resolved as soon as possible. If we need to take action over job evaluation, after the appeal judgement is known, we will. GMB Scotland will also communicate with you in an absolutely open and transparent fashion as and when there is something of substance to say. Above all as a member of GMB Scotland you can be assured that any money due to you will be paid to you, it is not going to line the pockets of fat cat private lawyers.

It should never be forgotten that the responsibility for all the problems with equal pay ultimately lie with Glasgow City Council. It was Glasgow City Council who discriminated against you and spent a fortune of tax payers’ money in the courts trying to defend the indefensible. Thank you for your patience and ongoing support

-2-

We hope to have a further communication with members this afternoon. If you have any queries on the above, please feel free to email me on

gary.smith@gmb.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Gary Smith

Gary Smith

GMB Scotland Secretary

GMB SCOTLAND – PROTECTING YOU AT WORK

General Secretary: Paul Kenny Acting Regional Secretary: Gary Smith Fountain House, 1/3 Woodside Crescent, Charing Cross, Glasgow G3 7UJ Tel: 0141 332 8641/9501 Fax: 0141 332 4491 - 
www.gmb.org.uk

Now there are so many things wrong with Gary's letter I hardly know where to begin, but let's make start by reminding readers that:
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow kept their low paid women members in the dark for years about the pay differences between male and female jobs
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to 'cap' the Equal Pay Compensation Payments at a maximum of £9,000
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to exclude any overtime working from the Equal Pay Compensation Payments
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to exclude certain categories of employee, e.g. School Janitors, from the Equal Pay Compensation Payments
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to impose an even lower settlement cap (than £9,000) on certain categories of employee, e.g. Classroom Assistants
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to ditch the job evaluation scheme (JES) recommended by the national unions (and COSLA) in favour of an 'in-house' JE scheme and WPBR developed by an external consultant
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow never once threatened strike action to bring the pay of the City's Council's largely female workforce into line with the much higher pay of their bonus earning male comparators 
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow threatened strike action to gain special treatment for the many 'red circled' and former bonus earning jobs (after the WPBR was introduced) - and were given a guarantee in the shape of the Employee Development Commitment (EDC) that   the earnings of these male dominated jobs would be maintained at their pre-WPBR levels
In other words if, as Gary Smith claims, Glasgow City Council was ultimately responsible for this widespread pay discrimination and "spent a fortune of tax payers' money trying to defend the indefensible" - why did the trade unions support senior managers instead standing up for the interests of their lowest paid members? 

I will have more to say on this subject in the days ahead, but if you agree that the GMB is engaged in a shameless attempt to 'rewrite history', then drop me a note as I'll be interested to hear what readers have to say.

  


Glasgow Equal Pay News (20/06/17)


I said the other day that I would explain more about the staff groups who were deliberately excluded (by the City Council and local trade unions) from receiving 'Equal Pay - Compensation Payments' back in 2005.

So here you are:
  • Clerical staff in council offices
  • Clerical staff in council schools
  • Male workers in non-bonus earning jobs
  • School Janitors (despite being on high Manual Worker grades)
  • Special Needs Drivers (even though they had to hold special licences)
  • All City Council employees with less than 1 year's service - despite having claims worth up to several thousand pounds (depending on hours worked)
I find it interesting that the trade unions bitterly criticise the government over workers being denied 'employment rights' until they complete a year's service - they (rightly in my view) campaign for employee rights from Day 1.

Yet when it comes to the fight for 'Equal Pay' the local trade unions ganged up with senior management to deny compensation to any council employee with less than 1 year's service.

Amazing - and completely hypocritical into the bargain!

Not just that, of course, because the unions agreed with the decision to exclude Admin & Clerical staff from compensation payments and then wrongly advised hundreds of non-bonus earning male workers, e.g. Janitors and Special Needs Drivers, that Equal Pay was only for women!

No wonder 80% of equal pay claimants in Glasgow City Council are pursuing their cases with Action 4 Equality Scotland.

  


Glasgow Equal Pay News (19/06/17)


Here is some more information about the 'Equal Pay - Compensation Payments' agreed between Glasgow City Council and the local trade unions back in 2005.

As regular readers know, these payments were highly controversial in a variety of ways:
  • Payments were capped in a completely arbitrary fashion, without a proper explanation, and a maximum ceiling of  £9,000 imposed
  • Pupil Support Assistants, Child Development Officers and others received widely varying, often derisory payments - again without a full explanation of the differences in pay with male comparator jobs
  • People were credited with contracted hours only - no credit whatsoever was given for overtime working which was very prevalent (and still is) in some parts of the Council
  • Many groups were deliberately excluded  for these payments despite having perfectly valid claims - more to follow on this issue shortly 
Under the 'Questions and Answers' section the document says "Staff can also contact their Trade Union to ask for further guidance" reinforcing the message that this whole business was carefully worked out and agreed with the local unions.

More to follow on the 'excluded groups' - so watch this space.

  

Glasgow Equal Pay News (17/06/17)


I promised the other day to share information on the blog site about the 'Equal Pay Compensation Payments' agreed between Glasgow City Council and the local trade unions back in 2005.

So here's an extract from an official document that the City Council published at the time which confirms that senior management and the unions really were working 'hand in glove'.

"Equal Pay - Compensation Payments"
"What is Glasgow City Council doing about Equal Pay?

"The Council, in partnership with the Trade Unions, has begun the process of tackling financial inequality in the workplace through the offer of compensation payments.

"All staff who are being offered a compensation payment are being provided with information about what the Council and Trade Unions have negotiated.

"Remember: Both the Council and Trade Unions are working jointly." 

Over the next week or so I'll share further extracts from this document which will explain how the council's lowest paid workers were effectively 'duped' into accepting very low offers of settlement - when what they really deserved was equal pay with their male comparators. 

As I said the other day, I am happy to discuss and debate these issues with the local trade unions in Glasgow.