Saturday, 19 May 2018

Glasgow - Council Bosses' 'Golden Goodbyes'



Here's a great story from Politics Home highlighting a scathing report from two parliamentary committees at Westminster which have accused bosses at Carillion of being "too stuffing their mouths with gold to show any interest in the welfare of the workforce".  

Now that's exactly how I feel about senior officials at Glasgow City Council who have walked away with eye watering Exit Packages worth £1.389 million (see post below dated 07/05/18) while low paid workers lower down the food chain have had to fight through the courts for 12 long years just to enforce their rights to equal pay.

You would think that Glasgow's MSPs might be interested in having a similar inquiry into what's been going on in Scotland's largest council.

Because not only have senior officials have been presiding over discriminatory, 'unfit for purpose' pay arrangements since 2007, several of their colleagues were granted big boosts to their pensions through the ward of 'added years'.

Just last year, Glasgow's outgoing director of finance, Lynn Brown, was gifted the sum of £120,000 to access her pension early.

Yet since then the City Council has come over all 'mean spirited' in negotiations to settle the long-running equal pay dispute with 12,000 of its lowest paid employees. 

  

Carillion bosses ‘too busy stuffing mouths with gold’ to prevent firm’s collapse, say furious MPs

By Matt Foster - Politics Home

The directors of doomed construction giant Carillion were “too busy stuffing their mouths with gold” to save the firm from its spectacular collapse earlier this year, a hard-hitting joint report by MPs has said.

More than 2,000 jobs have been lost since the construction firm’s collapse - Credit: PA

Carillion - which was mired in debt and owed billions to its suppliers - went bust at the start of the year, with more than 2,000 staff laid off so far.

The firm sank with one of the biggest pension deficits of any FTSE 350 company.

Ex-Carillion director says Brexit and snap election led to firm’s collapse


Downing Street lobby briefing on customs union and Carillion job losses


MPs accuse Carillion of trying to 'wriggle out' of pension contributions


A scathing joint report from two Commons committees brands the company’s collapse “a story of recklessness, hubris and greed” and blasts company bosses for misrepresenting the reality of the business as they ramped up dividends and treated long-term obligations like pensions “with contempt”.

The report accuses Carillion’s board of directors of being “both responsible and culpable” for the company’s failure, despite presenting themselves as “self-pitying victims” of “unforeseeable mishaps”.

The MPs tear into the company’s former finance director Richard Adams - who sold all of his shares just months before the firm’s collapse - and its “misguidedly self-assured” ex-chief executive Richard Howson over the company’s nosedive in fortunes.

They also dismiss former chairman Philip Green as an “unquestioning optimist” who failed to challenge bad decisions, and urge the Insolvency Service, which is probing Carillion’s downfall, to consider disqualifying the trio from serving as directors again.

Work and Pensions Committee chairman Frank Field said Carillion’s collapse was “a disgraceful example of how much of our capitalism is allowed to operate”.

He fumed: “Same old story. Same old greed. A board of directors too busy stuffing their mouths with gold to show any concern for the welfare of their workforce or their pensioners. They rightly face investigation of their fitness to run a company again.”

Mr Field urged ministers to bring forward “radical reforms to our creaking system of corporate accountability”, adding: “British industry is too important to be left in the hands of the likes of the shysters at the top of Carillion.”

AUDITORS 'SHOULD BE IN THE DOCK'

Rachel Reeves, chair of the Business, Energy and Industry Strategy Committee meanwhile trained her fire on audit firm KPMG, which vetted Carillion’s accounts for almost two decades before its collapse.

She said it and other members of the so-called 'Big Four' group of accounting giants - PwC, Deloitte and EY - should be "in the dock for this catastrophic crash".

Ms Reeves warned: "They are guilty of failing to tackle the crisis at Carillion, failing to insist the company paint a true picture of its crippling financial problems. The sorry saga of Carillion is further evidence that the Big Four accountancy firms are prioritising their own profits ahead of good governance at the companies they are supposed to be putting under the microscope.”

The committee is urging the Government to refer the accounting giants to the Competition and Markets Authority or risk “a crisis of confidence in the audit profession”.

Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey went further, however, calling for the “cabal of four big auditors” to be “broken up”.

She said: “Millions racked up in debt, thousands of workers losing their jobs and pensions, and supply chain business at risk of collapse, because not only did the corporate auditors fail to hold Carillion's misbehaving managers to account, but because the Government looked on in ignorance at the same time, proceeding to award contract after contract to a firm which had issued numerous profit warnings,” she said.

A government spokesperson welcomed the joint report and said ministers would “respond fully in due course”.

They added: “Our priority has been the continued, safe running of public services and to minimise the impact of Carillion's insolvency. The plans we put in place have ensured this. “


Glasgow - What We Know, So Far (07/05/18)



Here's what we know, so far, regarding my FOI requests on the 'Exit Packages' paid to senior officials of Glasgow City Council. 

Official 1
In 2010/11 the council's former chief solicitor (Ian Drummond) was awarded 'added years' which boosted his already generous pension pot by £250,000 according to my calculations

Total - £250,000

Officials 2 and 3

In 2013/14 two GCC officials left with Exit Packages worth £310,000 (in cash value) and with the pension boost of added years valued at £141,000.

Officials 4 and 5
In 2013/14 another two officials left with Exit Packages worth £380,000 (in cash value) and with the pension boost of added years worth £179,000

Total - £1,010,000 (£451,000 + £559,000)

Official 6
In 2016/17 the council's former director of finance (Lynn Brown) was 'gifted' the sum of £120,079 to allow her to retire early and access her pension early.

Total - £129,079

Now these officials were all in post during the long fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council and were part of the senior management group which fought tooth and nail to resist the equal pay claims of their lowest paid employees - all the way to the Court of Session which decided that Glasgow's pay arrangements are 'unfit for purpose.

Yet this small group of just 6 senior Glasgow officials walked away with Exit Packages worth £1,389,079 which is quite astonishing if you ask me, especially given their role in protecting the interests of all council employees - including those at the bottom of the pay ladder.  

Please note that Glasgow City Council is currently refusing to answer my FOI request regarding the role that senior officials played in overseeing and introducing the WPBR - on the grounds that it would cost more than £600 to provide this information.