Saturday, 24 June 2017

Glasgow's Low Paid Workers Get 'Capped' - Council Boss Cops £250,000 Pay 'Bonus'

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.


Glasgow and Equal Pay (26/05/17)

The Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) invited me to make a further submission in respect of my appeal against Glasgow City Council's refusal to explain whether one of its senior officials had his leaving package boosted with 'added years'.

Here's what I had to say along with a previous post explaining the background to my original FoI request.

Dear SIC

Thank you for your letter dated 10 May 2017.

In my view Glasgow City Council does not have a valid reason for refusing my request, not least because much of this information has already been released with the disclosure that Mr Drummond received a remuneration package worth £462,555 in the year ended 31 March 2011.

According to the Council the figure of £462,555 comprised of £211,000 in accrued pension benefits plus £251,555 in Salary Fees and Allowances, Compensation for Loss of Office and Election Duties.

My FoI request in respect of 'added years' does not affect the figures already released into the public domain and the issue comes down to whether or not the Council used its powers to provide Mr Drummond's leaving package with a further financial boost using public funds.      

I believe I have a legitimate interest in the City Council's use of public money as a taxpayer, especially when government at all levels (both local and national) have been operating on tight budgets.

In 2005 Glasgow City Council 'capped' equal pay settlement offers to thousands of low paid women workers at a maximum of £9,000 even though their employees claims were worth considerably more than £9,000. Mr Drummond was the City Council's chief legal officer at that time.

In my view the public has a right to know whether or not the City Council was especially generous to one of its senior officials and if so, the reasons for someone at the top of the organisation receiving more favourable treatment than the 'foot-soldiers' at the bottom of the pay ladder. 

I cannot see how the release of this information can be detrimental to Mr Drummond in any way since the decision to award 'added years' or not lay with the City Council - not Mr Drummond himself.

For these reasons and those detailed in my original submission I would ask the Scottish Information Commissioner to uphold my appeal.  

Kind regards

Mark Irvine