Thursday, 13 July 2017

Glasgow and Equal Pay

As I said yesterday, a kind reader from Glasgow sent me a very strange letter from the GMB in which the union talks up the latest pay offer from Cordia, as if it were the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Now the Cordia pay offer has the same basic elements as the one proposed by COSLA for all Scottish local government employees, namely:
  • A flat rate increase of £350 for employees paid up to £35,000 based on a 37 hour week
  • A 1% increase for employees paid above £35,000
  • A commitment to use the Scottish Local Government Living wage of £8.51 as the minimum level for all pay and allowances
But the GMB goes on to bang the drum about the latest pay offer because Cordia is apparently proposing, in addition to the COSLA pay award, a 1% increase in WCD (Working Context and Demand) Payments and NSWP (Non Standard Working Pattern Hours) Payments which are peculiar to Glasgow - being part of the City Council's WPBR pay scheme.

Now while the GMB describes this as "the first decent increase on the basic pay for over a decade" the reality is that the offer is still worth less than 2% for Home Support Workers, for example, which really means a cut in basic pay year on year with inflation running at 3%.

To add insult to injury all the male comparator (former bonus earning) groups within the City Council are to receive the same flat rate increase, so the pay gap between male and female jobs will remain largely untouched.

So if you ask me, as far as the fight for equal pay is concerned the Cordia pay offer is a big disappointment because it does nothing to bring women's pay into line with the pay of their male comparators - which is what the fight for equal pay is all about.

The GMB letter goes on to highlight the 1% increase in NSWP and WCD payments, yet fails to point out, for example, that over 80% of female council employees receive no NSWP payment (a zero payment) because they do not work 37 hours a week.

In other words a 1% increase on NSWP and WCD payments does nothing for most women workers in Cordia who make up more than 70% of the workforce. 

Seems like the employers and the trade unions have learned nothing over all these years if you ask me.

Because if they were really trying to close the pay gap, they would concentrate on the bottom of the pay ladder which continues to be dominated by a variety of low paid women's jobs, of course.

The reality is that the WPBR pay arrangements (introduced in 2006/07) favoured traditional male jobs and the unions and Cordia are now compounding the problem by increasing NSWP and WCD payments which mainly benefit these male dominated jobs.

The reader who sent me the GMB letter asks if this new pay offer will have any impact on her equal pay claim and the answer to that has to be - not much, if at all.

Because any slight benefit from the flat rate £350 payment (for 37 hours) has to be offset against the increase in NSWP and WCD payments which actually increase the the pay gap between male and female jobs.

I'll have more to say on Glasgow's WPBR pay scheme (of which the NSWP and WCD are part) in the days ahead, but regular readers will be recall that although the unions are now carrying 'foul', they agreed to the introduction of the WPBR arrangements in the first place.

So watch this space.