Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Glasgow Equal Pay News

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.


Glasgow Equal Pay News (16/06/17)

A reader asked me yesterday how people can help, practically speaking, in the fight for equal pay with Glasgow City Council.

So here are some thoughts and ideas for people to chew on.

Be positive in your public and/or private comments  
It's important to get across a positive message about the 'justice' of the claimants' case in Glasgow and just how badly the City Council's lowest paid employees have been treated over the years. 'Second class citizens' is the phrase that springs to mind which is quite incredible when you stop and think that almost 70% of the council workforce are women.

The battle with Glasgow City Council is coming to an end 
At the moment it's impossible to say how much longer things will take though it is fair to say that the Council suffered a major defeat at the recent Court of Session hearing in Edinburgh. The court has still to issue its decision on the A4ES-led challenge to the WPBR, but even now it's clear the council has dug itself into a big hole.

Glasgow is under new leadership
The old Labour council which is responsible for this mess has been replaced by a new SNP-led administration. Now that doesn't provide an instant or magic solution, but the new leader of the City Council (Cllr Susan Aitken) has signalled its intention to negotiate a settlement of this long-running dispute instead of continuing the battle in the courts.

Local Councillors, MSPs and MPs
Public campaigning on equal pay, as well as taking action in the courts, has helped get us to where we are today. As always, individual A4ES claimants have a crucial role to play since 'Many Hands Make Light Work'. Explaining the issues is what my blog site is all about and readers can help drag things out into the open by 'Sharing' and 'Liking' posts and by sending them on to local councillors, MSPs and MPs.

Pay Information
The political leadership of Glasgow may have changed, but council officials continue to drag their feet over the provision of information to explain the pay arrangements that flow from the WPBR. Speaking directly with some male workers in 'comparator' jobs would help get to the bottom of things and it stands to reason that A4ES clients in Glasgow will know council gardeners, refuse workers, gravediggers, road workers etc - they might be family members, neighbours or friends. If so, drop me a note (in confidence of course) to: markirvine@compuserve.com 

The role of the trade unions
The vast majority of equal pay claimants in Glasgow are now represented by A4ES because the local trade unions threw their lot in with senior council management long ago instead of standing up for their lowest paid members. Over the coming days I plan to share information on the blog site which highlights the extent of this 'union/management co-operation' and led, for example, to an arbitrary 'cap' being placed on equal pay compensation payments back in 2005. I am also happy to discuss and debate these issues with the trade unions in Glasgow and if there are union members out there who would like to arrange such a meeting, please get in touch with me by email.


Glasgow's Low Paid Workers Get 'Capped' - Council Boss Cops £250,000 Pay 'Bonus' (15/06/17)

Glasgow City Council have suddenly backtracked on the previous decision to refuse my FoI request regarding the payment of 'added years' to boost a senior official's leaving package. 

After registering an appeal with the Scottish Information Commissioner, the City Council wrote to me in the following terms:  

Mr Irvine,

I refer to your recent Freedom of Information request to the Council regarding Mr Drummond’s leaving package. We have received correspondence from the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner advising us that you have requested a decision from them on this matter.

Your request for review stated that you were looking for “a review of the City Council's refusal to answer Part 3 of my original FOI request in which I asked whether Mr Drummond's remuneration package included any discretionary benefits such as 'added years' in respect of the Local Government Pension Scheme”. We advised you in our letter of 7th April 2017 that we considered the information that you were looking for constituted personal data and as such, was exempt in terms of s38(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. For the reasons set out in the Council’s review decision letter, we did not consider that you had a legitimate interest in obtaining the data.

Although Mr Drummond no longer works for the Council, we have been able to contact him to ask whether he would prepared to give consent to the release of the information you have requested. The Council recognises that personal data may be released if consent is provided by the data subject to do so. Mr Drummond has now consented to release of the information requested to you. 

Accordingly, please note that Ian Drummond received added years to his pension. Due to his age and length of service, this was on the basis of 6 and 2/3rds “added years” to his pension, in line with the Committee Report calculation (attached). 

This calculation was applied to all staff who left at this time. The Annual accounts previously sent to you show that Mr Drummond received £109,000 “compensation for loss of office”. This figure comprises a £33,000 enhanced lump sum from the added years plus £76,000 redundancy payment. 

There is an £11,000 per annum addition to Mr Drummond’s pension arising from the added years calculation. No payments for loss of office were made to Mr Drummond beyond the standard formula set out in the policy, i.e. maximum 6 2/3 added years (applied to the calculation of both the lump sum and the annual pension) plus maximum 30 weeks’ pay as a redundancy lump sum as Mr Drummond was aged over 50 and had access to his pension.  

Please note that election payments (made to Mr Drummond as a result of the then chief executive being on long term sickness absence following a heart attack) are not pensionable and did not give rise to any additional payment of either pension, lump sum, or redundancy payment.

I trust this answers the query posed in your request for review.


FOI Review Team

So the upshot is that Mr Drummond did receive a big boost to his pension plan - in the shape of an extra £33,000 by way of a lump sum plus another £11,000 a year on top of his annual pension payment.

Now this is an extra, 'discretionary' payment remember - and it should be compared to the way low paid council employees are treated, often after a lifetime's work in Glasgow's essential front-line services.

In fact, if you make the not reasonable assumption that Mr Drummond will draw his pension for another 20 years, the extra boost to his pension is worth at least £253,000 - i.e. 20 years x £11,000 (£220,000) + £33,000 = £253,000.

But what really gets my goat is that this Labour-run council placed a 'cap' or ceiling on the equal pay settlements of the Council's lowest paid workers back in 2005 - the most anyone received was just £9,000 which meant thousands of people were 'duped' into accepting much less than their claims were really worth.

As regular readers know, the local trade unions were involved in negotiating this unfair cap on people's settlements, yet they now try to claim credit for fighting the 'good fight' over equal pay. 

Shameless to the end, the unions then made light of of their terrible track record and tried to tempt A4ES clients to go back to them once the Court of Session ruled that Glasgow's equal pay claimants had been unfairly treated and badly let down. 

Give me a break, please! 

Because the reality is that Glasgow City Council and the local trade unions worked together to ensure that '1st Wave' equal pay settlements were much lower than the real value of people's claims in the run-up to Christmas 2005.

In 2006 they also agreed to give special treatment to all of the 'red circled', former bonus earning, traditional male jobs when the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review was introduced - without first of all bringing women's pay into line with the men, a hugely significant point that was highlighted in the recent judgment from the Court of Session.

So if you ask me, the Labour Council bosses and the spineless Labour trade unions should all be thoroughly ashamed of their behaviour.