Thursday, 31 August 2017

Glasgow - Equal Pay Update



Equal Pay claimants in Glasgow are getting restive over the attitude of Glasgow City Council officials who seem to resent the suggestion that the council's WPBR pay arrangements should be open, honest and transparent.

One asks "What's next?" - the answer to which is that it may become necessary for people to start raising these issues directly with the new political leadership of the City Council, in the first instance.

Because the SNP said that it would usher in a new approach, but so far at least it's just more of the same from senior officials who have a vested interest in preventing this issues from being put under proper scrutiny.  

I find this amusing considering the amount of times they have put in appeals costing a lot more £600.00 rediculous what happened to SNP not wanting this to drag on yet we find ourselves no further forward

E


Makes no sense at all sick of hearing or reading stories nearly every day without an outcome. I think we have waited long enough so what's next that's what we want to know.

A


Not good enough. If this related to any of their highest earners it would be sorted at the push of a button. Plus.


M



Perhaps we should join Twitter and ask GCC's new leader Susan Aitken why she is allowing the witholding of info, and so far not doing what she was elected to do. I hope the SNP council do not do a Labour and drag this out in order to avoid paying out.

T


  

Glasgow, FoI and Equal Pay



Here is Glasgow City Council's response to my FoI Review Request regarding the operation of its Employee Development Commitment (EDC) scheme.

Now as regular readers will recall the EDC is a controversial scheme which gave special and more favourable treatment to the former bonus earning (all male) jobs back in 2007.

In effect, these former bonus earning jobs were given a guarantee that their higher earnings were secure and would be maintained going forward, beyond the normal protection period which was supposed to end in April 2009.

Yet Glasgow City Council is claiming not to have 'good' records about the operation of the EDC scheme and that to retrieve the information I requested would require a detailed search of almost 20,000 individual files.

Which would be funny, if this bogus claim didn't make Scotland's largest council look completely inept and ridiculous.

Because I did not ask the City Council for a 'central record' of the EDC scheme - senior council officials have responded using this careful choice of words knowing perhaps full well, perhaps, that the information that I requested is held in individual departments where the Gravediggers and Gardeners worked.

Read the full details of the City Council's response below, but one thing's for sure we are a long way from the kind of 'open, honest and transparent' pay arrangements that people were promised by the new SNP-led administration.

More to follow on this subject - so watch this space.

The Review Decision 

I have now carried out a review of the Council’s response to your request contained within the Decision Letter.

On reviewing the Council’s records I can advise that the Council has been able to locate some of the information you have requested. 

The Employee Development Commitment (“EDC”) ran from 2007 to 2009. 

The Council has located a document headed “Employees “Signed Up” to EDC”. This document has no contextual information and sits in isolation. This document appears to have been collated in 2011 and states that 2,691 staff “signed up” to the EDC, 1,313 of which were male and 1,378 of which were female. 

The Council has also located spreadsheets dated April 2009 which appear to show number of staff in the EDC. These spreadsheets have no contextual information and sit in isolation. The Council has used these spreadsheets to calculate that 849 staff were in the EDC at April 2009, 455 of which were male and 394 of which were female. 

Please note that the Council is not able to confirm that the above information is complete or accurate as there is no central record of the staff involved in the EDC. In order to verify the above information or to provide the number of Council employees involved in the EDC programme broken down by year and by gender as requested the Council would require to check employees’ personal records. 

An employee’s participation in the EDC is not flagged on their personal record. There may be correspondence in their file which would have confirmed their participation. However, since that time paper records underwent a cleansing exercise prior to digitisation and due to the time elapsed since EDC such records may have been removed as part of the cleansing exercise. 

There are approximately 13,000 current employee files and approximately 6,000 lever files which would require to be checked. 

Under Section 12(1) of the Act the Council does not require to comply with a request for information if the Council estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the amount prescribed by the fee regulations. The current limit is £600. The estimated cost to comply with your request exceeds this limit and therefore the Council is unable to comply with your request. 

Even if a member of staff only took 30 seconds to check each personal record and record the data this task would take approximately 158 hours to complete. This means the task would at a minimum cost £2,370 in staff costs. This does not include photocopying and printing costs. The staff time charged reflects the true pay scale of the member(s) of staff who would be involved capped at a ceiling of £15 per hour per member of staff. 

As the estimated cost to comply with your request exceeds the limit of £600 the Council is unable to comply with your request. 

The Council has the option of complying with requests where the costs exceed £600. However, on this occasion we have decided not to due to the resources (both financial and human) which voluntary compliance with this request would divert away from our core business. 

RIGHT OF APPEAL 

I hope you are satisfied with this response. However, if you are not you have the right to make an application within six months of receipt of this letter for a decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner. The Scottish Information Commissioner can be contacted as follows: 

Address: Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, KY16 9DS. Email: 

enquiries@itspublicknowledge.infoTelephone: 01334 464610 

You can also use the Scottish Information Commissioner’s online appeal service to make an application for a decision: www.itspublicknowledge.info/appeal

Thereafter a decision by Scottish Information Commissioner may be appealed on a point of law to the Court of Session.

Yours sincerely 


CAROLE FORREST
DIRECTOR OF GOVERNANCE AND SOLICITOR TO THE COUNCIL 


  



Glasgow, FoI and Equal Pay (31/07/17)


Glasgow City Council is behaving very badly if you ask me, by refusing to provide me with details of its controversial EDC (Employee Development Commitment) scheme.

So I have decided to ask the City Council to review its decision to decline my request on the grounds of cost - see letter below.

Carole Forrest
Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council
Glasgow City Council


Dear Ms Forrest

FoI Review Request

I refer to the letter from Glasgow City Council dated 7 July 2017 rejecting my earlier FoI request on the grounds that the cost involved exceeds £600.

I am asking for a review of the City Council's initial decision for the following reasons:

1 In my view the cost of providing the information I have requested is minimal and requires only an hour or two of someone's time.

2
 The information must be contained in Council Committee reports and, as such, is capable of being readily and easily retrieved from digital or paper records.

By my reckoning the Council's chief executive is paid around £75 an hour which would allow even Annemarie O'Donnell a full 8 hours to complete this relatively simple task without exceeding the £600 figure set out in Section 12 (1) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.


By way of comparison an employee earning a lower and more typical rate of pay of £8.50 an hour, for example, would have over 70 hours or two full working weeks to complete the task.

5 If on reflection the City Council is still not prepared to provide this information, I would ask you to explain the basis of your cost calculations in responding to my FoI Review Request, as I intend to register an immediate appeal with the Scottish Information Commissioner.
I look forward to your response and would be grateful if you could reply to me by email at: markirvine@compuserve.com

Kind regards
Mark Irvine

If the City Council does not quickly come to its senses, I will take the matter to the independent Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC). 

   

Glasgow - The Next Steps



Lots of readers have been in touch to ask what's happening in Glasgow after the big Court of Session decision which drove a 'coach and horses' through the City Council's WPBR pay arrangements.

Now I can't speak for the City Council itself, but there have been informal discussions taking place behind the scenes and here is my understanding of the current position being adopted by the new SNP-led administration.
  • The Council has restated that it wishes to achieve a negotiated settlement of all the outstanding equal pay claims.
  • The Council has also restated that it does not wish to continue with a prolonged legal battle, but has still to confirm whether it intends to seek 'leave to appeal' the second Court of Session decision to the UK Supreme Court.  
  • The Council is currently assessing its options for taking these issues forward and aims to set out clear proposals within the next few weeks. 
  • The Council remains committed to 'open, honest and transparent' pay arrangements, but recognises there is much more still to do such as achieving the required level of co-operation from the relevant officials.
Now my take on these points is that there is a battle taking place between the new political leadership and the Council's senior officials, which is not at all unusual in my experience of Scottish local government.

The senior officials have a vested interest in defending previous advice they have given (and previous administrations have given) even though their advice looks ridiculous in the wake of the Court of Session decision which judged Glasgow's pay arrangements and job evaluation scheme (JES) to be 'unfit for purpose'.

Instead of having the truth dragged out of them bit by bit, or via a succession of FoI requests, surely the Council's senior officials should be preparing a detailed report which fills in all the missing pieces of the jigsaw, also know as the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR). 

Most likely this will require a fundamental reappraisal and possible replacement of the WPBR which was heavily criticised in the Court of Session for its lack of 'independence'. 

As regular readers know, Glasgow brought in and paid for a private consultant to concoct an 'in-house' job evaluation scheme which the local unions went along with at the time, against the advice of COSLA and national union officials.

The City Council recently agreed to provide a whole new raft of pay data by early October 2017 and this will be a crucial test of its good faith and commitment to getting serious settlement negotiations underway soon.

If the City Council doesn't deliver on this commitment, then all bets will be off and the Action 4 Equality Scotland equal pay campaign in Glasgow will start again in earnest, because a clear timetable has to be set for settlement discussions to begin and conclude which is, of course, what you would expect in any major negotiation.

For my part, I am going to continue my FoI requests until there is some sign that the City Council's senior officials are listening since it is, and was, their job (and their predecessors' jobs) to look after the interests of all Glasgow employees - including the lowest paid.

Whereas the track record of Glasgow City Council over the past 10 years has been to devise and then defend a pay 'stitch-up' (via the WPBR) on behalf of the former bonus earning, male dominated groups.

  

Glasgow Update (30/08/17)



Glasgow City Council (GCC) is Scotland's largest local council with a budget of well over £1 billion to spend every year.

Yet the Council doesn't keep 'good' records, or so it says, and has little idea, if any, about the operation of the Council's controversial Employee Development Commitment (EDC) scheme which was of enormous benefit to former bonus earning jobs when GCC's new WPBR pay arrangements were introduced back in 2006/07.

So I though I'd help the City Council out with this letter from Robert Booth, Glasgow's former Director of Land Services, which is dated 30 October 2006. The contents are reproduced below for easy reference.

From - Robert Booth, Director of Land Services

To - Norma Aird - Head of Corporate HR, Chief Executive Office, City Chambers

GRAVEDIGGERS RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION

Authorisation is sought herewith for the application of a recruitment and retention payment under the Workforce Pay and Benefits package in respect of the Council's gravediggers.

You will appreciate the sensitive nature of this aspect of service delivery and I have previously indicated the mood of the workforce which casts serious doubt on the prospects of retention for this group of staff. Loss of experienced resource would eradicate the Council;'s capacity to maintain service. The resultant adverse publicity and the prospect of public concern in relation to burials must be remedied.

Accordingly, I should be pleased if you would give consideration to the inclusion of a long term recruitment and retention payment for these employees.


Robert Booth 
Director of Land Services

Now isn't it absolutely remarkable that I appear to have better and more accurate information about the operation of the EDC scheme than the City Council itself.

I think I might just drop a note to the chief executive, Annemarie O'Donnell and its director of governance, Carole Forrest.

Because instead of striving to make Glasgow's pay arrangements 'open, honest and transparent' the City Council's senior officials seem intent on preventing people from understanding the truth about the EDC scheme.

If Robert Booth's letter is anything to go by, which I am sure it is, then the pay information I have requested is right under the noses of top officials like Annemarie O'Donnell and Carole Forrest.

So to characterise this exercise and my FoI request as an costly hunt for a 'needle in a haystack' is quite disingenuous of the City Council and I predict that it's a fight that the bureaucrats are ultimately bound to lose. 

  


Glasgow, FoI and Equal Pay (29/08/17)



Here is Glasgow City Council's response to my FoI Review Request regarding the operation of its Employee Development Commitment (EDC) scheme.

Now as regular readers will recall the EDC is a controversial scheme which gave special and more favourable treatment to the former bonus earning (all male) jobs back in 2007.

In effect, these former bonus earning jobs were given a guarantee that their higher earnings were secure and would be maintained going forward, beyond the normal protection period which was supposed to end in April 2009.

Yet Glasgow City Council is claiming not to have 'good' records about the operation of the EDC scheme and that to retrieve the information I requested would require a detailed search of almost 20,000 individual files.

Which would be funny, if this bogus claim didn't make Scotland's largest council look completely inept and ridiculous.

Because I did not ask the City Council for a 'central record' of the EDC scheme - senior council officials have responded using this careful choice of words knowing perhaps full well, perhaps, that the information that I requested is held in individual departments where the Gravediggers and Gardeners worked.

Read the full details of the City Council's response below, but one thing's for sure we are a long way from the kind of 'open, honest and transparent' pay arrangements that people were promised by the new SNP-led administration.

More to follow on this subject - so watch this space.


The Review Decision 

I have now carried out a review of the Council’s response to your request contained within the Decision Letter.

On reviewing the Council’s records I can advise that the Council has been able to locate some of the information you have requested. 

The Employee Development Commitment (“EDC”) ran from 2007 to 2009. 

The Council has located a document headed “Employees “Signed Up” to EDC”. This document has no contextual information and sits in isolation. This document appears to have been collated in 2011 and states that 2,691 staff “signed up” to the EDC, 1,313 of which were male and 1,378 of which were female. 

The Council has also located spreadsheets dated April 2009 which appear to show number of staff in the EDC. These spreadsheets have no contextual information and sit in isolation. The Council has used these spreadsheets to calculate that 849 staff were in the EDC at April 2009, 455 of which were male and 394 of which were female. 

Please note that the Council is not able to confirm that the above information is complete or accurate as there is no central record of the staff involved in the EDC. In order to verify the above information or to provide the number of Council employees involved in the EDC programme broken down by year and by gender as requested the Council would require to check employees’ personal records. 

An employee’s participation in the EDC is not flagged on their personal record. There may be correspondence in their file which would have confirmed their participation. However, since that time paper records underwent a cleansing exercise prior to digitisation and due to the time elapsed since EDC such records may have been removed as part of the cleansing exercise. 

There are approximately 13,000 current employee files and approximately 6,000 lever files which would require to be checked. 

Under Section 12(1) of the Act the Council does not require to comply with a request for information if the Council estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the amount prescribed by the fee regulations. The current limit is £600. The estimated cost to comply with your request exceeds this limit and therefore the Council is unable to comply with your request. 

Even if a member of staff only took 30 seconds to check each personal record and record the data this task would take approximately 158 hours to complete. This means the task would at a minimum cost £2,370 in staff costs. This does not include photocopying and printing costs. The staff time charged reflects the true pay scale of the member(s) of staff who would be involved capped at a ceiling of £15 per hour per member of staff. 

As the estimated cost to comply with your request exceeds the limit of £600 the Council is unable to comply with your request. 

The Council has the option of complying with requests where the costs exceed £600. However, on this occasion we have decided not to due to the resources (both financial and human) which voluntary compliance with this request would divert away from our core business. 

RIGHT OF APPEAL 

I hope you are satisfied with this response. However, if you are not you have the right to make an application within six months of receipt of this letter for a decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner. The Scottish Information Commissioner can be contacted as follows: 

Address: Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, KY16 9DS. Email: 

enquiries@itspublicknowledge.infoTelephone: 01334 464610 

You can also use the Scottish Information Commissioner’s online appeal service to make an application for a decision: www.itspublicknowledge.info/appeal

Thereafter a decision by Scottish Information Commissioner may be appealed on a point of law to the Court of Session.

Yours sincerely 


CAROLE FORREST
DIRECTOR OF GOVERNANCE AND SOLICITOR TO THE COUNCIL 


  

Glasgow, FoI and Equal Pay (31/07/17)


Glasgow City Council is behaving very badly if you ask me, by refusing to provide me with details of its controversial EDC (Employee Development Commitment) scheme.

So I have decided to ask the City Council to review its decision to decline my request on the grounds of cost - see letter below.

Carole Forrest
Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council
Glasgow City Council


Dear Ms Forrest

FoI Review Request

I refer to the letter from Glasgow City Council dated 7 July 2017 rejecting my earlier FoI request on the grounds that the cost involved exceeds £600.

I am asking for a review of the City Council's initial decision for the following reasons:

1 In my view the cost of providing the information I have requested is minimal and requires only an hour or two of someone's time.

2
 The information must be contained in Council Committee reports and, as such, is capable of being readily and easily retrieved from digital or paper records.

By my reckoning the Council's chief executive is paid around £75 an hour which would allow even Annemarie O'Donnell a full 8 hours to complete this relatively simple task without exceeding the £600 figure set out in Section 12 (1) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.


By way of comparison an employee earning a lower and more typical rate of pay of £8.50 an hour, for example, would have over 70 hours or two full working weeks to complete the task.

5 If on reflection the City Council is still not prepared to provide this information, I would ask you to explain the basis of your cost calculations in responding to my FoI Review Request, as I intend to register an immediate appeal with the Scottish Information Commissioner.
I look forward to your response and would be grateful if you could reply to me by email at: markirvine@compuserve.com

Kind regards
Mark Irvine

If the City Council does not quickly come to its senses, I will take the matter to the independent Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC). 

   

Glasgow and Equal Pay


Here's a leaflet from A4ES which will be appearing in the Glasgow press in the days ahead.

The text of the leaflet highlights the fact that because the Council's job evaluation scheme (JES) and WPBR pay arrangements are 'unfit for purpose' - existing employees who have not already registered an equal pay claim can do so now.

Also, anyone who has left the City Council's employment within the past 5 years is now able to register a claim.

And everyone who has been with A4ES from the very beginning will see their claims go back 10 years, ie. all the way back to 2007 when the WPBR pay scheme was first introduced.

The City Council's ALEOs are covered by this decision including: Glasgow Life, Glasgow Housing, City Parking (Glasgow) LLP, Cordia (Service) LLP, City Building (Glasgow) LLP, Glasgow Marketing Bureau Limited, ACCESS LLP, Community Safety Glasgow, Jobs & Business Glasgow and City Property (Glasgow) LLP.  

  

Pensions and Equal Pay



A number of readers from North Lanarkshire have been in touch to say that they complained to NLC's chief executive (Paul Jukes) about the delay in making their equal pay settlements 'pensionable'.

A council official has responded to say that NLC intends to hand over all the required information to the Strathclyde Pension Fund by the end of September 2017 and what the readers wish to know is:

"Shall we withdraw our complaint and 'stand down' local North Lanarkshire MSPs and/or MPs who have been asked to support the complainants?"

Definitely not, I would say, because we have been here before with North Lanarkshire Council saying one thing and then doing another - or in this case not doing anything at all, for months and months.

So I would keep on at the Council and continue to lobby local politicians for support because it seems like the threat of complaining to the Local Government Ombudsman has finally forced the council to 'get its finger out'.

Regular readers will recall that Action 4 Equality Scotland fought this campaign to have equal pay settlements paid on a pensionable basis all on its own - the trade unions were never involved.

So when people like Gary Smith of the GMB says it makes no difference who pursue an equal pay claim - that everyone achieves the same results - try and not laugh too hard because it's complete nonsense, of course. 

  


Second Class Citizens(01/08/17)


A number of readers have been in touch to say that they are still waiting on North Lanarkshire Council recalculating their equal pay settlements on a pensionable basis - something that is hugely beneficial to many claimants.

Now I don/t know what the problem is, but if you ask me it's completely ludicrous that the Council can take this much time to provide people with this information.

Scottish Ministers told North Lanarkshire Council to get its finger out well over a year ago after a successful appeal by Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) which potentially benefited around 1500 low paid workers.

A4ES is still pressing the Council to get this task completed, but individuals may also wish to turn the heat up by writing a formal letter of complaint to NLC's chief executive, Paul Jukes, along the following lines.

Dear Mr Jukes

I wish to register a formal complaint about the length of time North Lanarkshire Council is taking to provide details of recalculating my equal pay settlement on a pensionable basis.

I am asking you to give me a firm date for this task to be completed as I believe it is quite outrageous for the Council to leave me waiting well over a year to access my pension benefits on the same basis as other employees.

Please note that if I do not receive a satisfactory answer within the next 10 working days, I intend to raise a complaint with the Scottish Local Government Ombudsman (SLGO).

In the meantime, I am also contacting my local MSP and MP to ask for their help and support because this issue has been allowed to drag on for far too long.

Yours sincerely


An Angry Former NLC Employee  


The email address I have for Paul Jukes is - jukesp@northlan.gov.uk - and as well as sending a copy of your complaint to the appropriate MSPs and MPs in NLC, I would also think about getting in touch with Tom Gordon who originally covered this story for The Sunday Herald.

By the way, the SLGO cannot deal with complaints about a person's terms and conditions of employment, their access to pension benefits, for example.

But this issue has already been decided by Scottish Ministers - North Lanarkshire Council lost the argument and the trade unions failed to support the A4ES campaign for equality of treatment over access to pensions. 

Instead this dispute is about 'maladministration' or NLC's failure to put sufficient resources into tackling an issue affecting its lowest paid workers - one they were told to sort out well over a year ago.

Regular readers will recall that NLC"s head of human resources (Iris Wylie) left the council's employment last year having been in post and earning a big salary throughout the 2005-2015 period when North Lanarkshire made such a terrible mess of equal pay.


Now I'm sure that when Iris Wylie parted company with NLC that all her entitlements (including any pension benefits) were bang up to date and calculated properly which begs the question:

"Why should North Lanarkshire Council's lowest paid workers be treated as second class citizens?"

  



Pensions and Equal Pay (17/02/17)



Here are two posts from the blog site archive which explain the significance of the battle waged by Action 4 Equality Scotland to have people's equal pay settlements paid on a pensionable basis.

As I've explained before the unions originally advised their members that this could not be done, and were not part of the dispute which went all the way to Scottish Ministers before being resolved in the claimants' favour.

As usual the unions are trying to claim credit for something when all the real work and 'heavy lifting' has been done by A4ES.

  



NLC Update (12/06/16)


Here's great article by Tom Gordon in today's Sunday Herald which explains the fight over pensions and equal pay that is being waged between Action 4 Equality Scotland and Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council. 

The trade unions have stayed out of this battle for some reason, even though the payment of equal pay settlements on a pensionable basis results in huge benefits for the lowest paid council workers.

I plan to circulate the Sunday Herald piece around all North Lanarkshire MSPs and MPs with the aim of encouraging local politicians to join the campaign to knock some much needed sense into Scotland's fourth largest council. 


http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14551814.Council_ordered_to_pay_pension_costs_of_hundreds_of_women_it_underpaid/

Council ordered to pay pension costs of hundreds of women it underpaid


North Lanarkshire Council HQ, Motherwell

By Tom Gordon - Scottish Political Editor, The Sunday Herald

A LABOUR council is facing a £1million bill after trying to duck its pension duties to hundreds of female staff it previously tried to squeeze out of equal pay.

North Lanarkshire Council has been ordered to cough up after the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) found it tried to “obstruct” a fair deal for almost 700 women.

The 681 women were systematically underpaid for years by the council, earning lower wages than male colleagues doing jobs of equivalent worth.

Last year, after initially forcing the authority to give them back-pay through a tribunal, they reached a second negotiated settlement worth a further £7.1m, after being represented by equal pay experts Action 4 Equality Scotland.

However, their final salary pension deals remained below those of male counterparts, as their contributions were lower while they were underpaid.

According to recent local government pension regulations, all back-pay must be treated as “pensionable”, meaning bigger pensions and bigger lump sums for those affected.

It also means errant councils must top up their employer contributions to pension funds.

However in February North Lanarkshire tried to sidestep its duties to the Strathclyde Pension Fund, which covers the female staff, by claiming the women’s second round of back-pay was actually a form of negotiated “compensation” and therefore not pensionable.

The women’s lawyers appealed to the SPPA in March, pointing out the potential differences would be profound if the back-pay was not made pensionable.

Some of the North Lanarkshire women would be denied a pension rise of £1500 a year and lump sums of more than £4000, a lifetime difference of around £50,000.

The SPPA has now ruled the council “misconstrued” the law, and criticised its arguments as “confused and an obstruction to finding an equitable solution to the disagreement”.

It said the council must pay the income tax and national insurance on the second wave of back-pay as well as employer contributions, an estimated total of £1m.

Although the women would also need to make contributions of around £360,000, this should ultimately bring them £10m in higher pensions benefits.

The council now has until August 20 to decide whether to fight the decision by launching a costly judicial review at the Court of Session.

Elizabeth Cross, 67, from Gartcosh, who retired four years ago after a decade as a home support worker in North Lanarkshire, would be £28,000 better off under the SPPA ruling.

She told the Sunday Herald the council’s refusal to pay up was “terrible”.

She said: “It’s ridiculous. This is the second time down the road. They discriminated against the women that worked for them over equal pay and now they’re doing it again over pensions.

“We should get exactly the same pensions as the men. All the girls are raging.

“The council are lucky they still have any women working for them, the way they have treated us all. It’s disgusting what they’ve done.

"Everyone in North Lanarkshire should be kicking up about the money the council are wasting trying to get out of paying us what we’re owed.”

Lawyer Sarah Gilzean of HBJ Gateley, who represented the women’s case to the SPPA, said: “We think the SPPA decision is unequivocally in our favour.”

Stefan Cross QC, of Action 4 Equality Scotland, said: “I find it incredible that a Labour-run council has been fighting tooth and nail to deny low-paid women workers the right to equal treatment under the Local Government Pension Scheme. If North Lanarkshire had got its way, some of the council's lowest paid workers would have been penalised for the rest of their lives.

“We welcome the landmark decision of the SPPA and we are calling on North Lanarkshire to face up to its obligations, accept this decision and do everything they can to ensure the lowest paid council workers are able to maximise their pension benefits."

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: “We note the decision of the Scottish Ministers in this case. We are examining the decision and will reach a view on our next steps in due course. However, the council remains committed to equality and has settled more than £100m of claims. We will continue to do so where these are justified.”

North Lanarkshire Update (14/06/16)



I've written to all MSPs and MPs in North Lanarkshire regarding the ongoing dispute over pensions and equal pay.

Because this a really big deal for the people involved and if you ask me, it's a disgrace that low paid workers are having to fight so hard to achieve equal treatment under the Local Government Pension Scheme.

North Lanarkshire's 'male comparator' jobs don't have this problem and nor do the Council's senior officials. 



Dear MSP/MP

NLC, Pensions and Equal Pay

Here's a post from my blog site about the ongoing dispute over Pensions and Equal Pay in North Lanarkshire Council.

I also attach a briefing note I supplied to Tom Gordon at the Sunday Herald which explains that there are, in fact, two categories of claimant, i.e. 1st and 2nd Wave.

North Lanarkshire Council has been dragging its feet over the 1st Wave claimants for more than a year and while the Council has until August 2016 to decide to appeal the 2nd Wave judgment, via a judicial review to the Court of Session, the right thing to do surely is to accept the SPPA decision and the principle of equal access to the Local Government Pension Scheme.

I will be encouraging A4ES clients to contact their MSPs and MPs for support and if you require any further information on these issues, please drop me a note at: markirvine@compuserve.com

Kind regards


Mark Irvine


Briefing note for the Sunday Herald

1 Two categories of claimants exist - 1st Wave and 2nd Wave

2 The 1st Wave claims relate to the period prior to the introduction of new job evaluation based pay arrangements in 2007 - the 2nd Wave claims related to the period after the introduction of JES in 2007.

3 The 1st Wave claims have been adjudicated by a formal decision of the Glasgow Employment Tribunal in May 2015 - North Lanarkshire Council accepts that these claims can and should be made pensionable if the claimants wish so, but over a year after the ET decision the Council has still not actioned people's requests, having deducted employee NI contributions from claimants' awards.

4 The 2nd Wave claims have been achieved by a negotiated settlement (rather than an ET award) and this is the issue that was tested by the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA). NLC's position is that although the settlement represented 'arrears of pay' they should not count for pension purposes - and that position was rejected by the SPPA on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

5 A total of £218,000 in NI contributions was deducted from A4ES clients as part of the 1st Wave award, but only 35 of these clients would benefit from having their awards paid on a pensionable basis because of the final salary year pension rules and the fact that NI deductions are mandatory, even if the individual benefit derives no direct benefit from their NI contributions.

6 The 35 A4ES clients who would benefit from their awards being made pensionable have already had £27,000 deducted from their settlement awards but have gained no benefit from these payments even though some have been retired for years - NLC is required to pay an additional £65,000 but over a year later people are still waiting on the Council getting its finger out and pass both employees and employer contributions (£92K) to the Strathclyde Pension Fund.

7 Of the total number of 2nd Wave claimants 681 would benefit from their settlements being made on a pensionable basis - the total cost of this to the claimants would be £360,000 and to NLC £915,555 -  by way of additional NI employee and employer costs.

8 The total lifetime benefit to the claimants (collectively) would be in excess of £10 million because of the increased lump sum and annual pension benefits - and these benefits are already enjoyed by equivalent NLC male workers, of course. The additional lump sum (tax free payments) to 2nd Wave claims, for example, is worth around £800,000. 

9 I have spoken with two A4ES clients who are willing to be interviewed and have their photos taken - W who is a 1st Wave claimant and C who is a 2nd Wave claimant, both are retired.

10 Action 4 Equality Scotland has been pursing this issue on its own up until now, i.e.. without any support from the trade unions, although hundreds of union members stand to benefit from the recent SPPA ruling as well. 

I'll give you a ring later today to discuss how you want to proceed and I can provide further comments via Stefan Cross QC and Sarah Gilzean at HBJ Gateley, the solicitors acting for A4ES clients.

Regards



Mark