Friday, 28 September 2018

Scottish Government and Equal Pay



The BBC reports that Scotland's police officers are the latest group to receive special recognition from the Scottish Government which has found an additional £125 million over the next 3 years to fund a 6.5% pay increase.

Now I don't begrudge police officers a pay award which adds and extra £40 million every year to the Police Scotland pay bill - well in excess of £400 million over the next 10 years.

But if the Scottish Government can find that kind of extra money for police officers, school teachers and the shipbuilding industry - surely they can find a way to help Glasgow City Council meet the costs of equal pay.

For example, allowing Scotland's largest council to borrow £500 million and repay this over over 50 years would provide Glasgow with a way forward, but the City Council can't do this on its own - only the Scottish Government has the power to make this happen.


  

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-45653588

Scottish police officers secure 6.5% pay increase


Image copyright - GETTY IMAGES Image caption - The award will be backdated to 1 September and applies until 31 March 2021.

Scottish police officers are to receive an immediate 6.5% pay increase.

The Scottish Police Authority confirmed the award will be backdated to 1 September and applies until 31 March 2021.

The move will see all officers below the rank of Assistant Chief Constable receive an immediate and substantial increase in their salary.

The SPA said the deal will represent an additional £125m in officer wages over the period.

A mid-point constable will receive a salary increase of £2,300 and the equivalent of an additional £6,000 in pay over the next 31 months.

The announcement comes on the eve of the SPA's monthly board meeting in Stirling.

In addition to an immediate pay award, the agreement will also address issues of inequality and anomalies in relation to pay progression.

It also contains a commitment to resolve working practices in relation to court and night shift.

'Significant and deserved'

Susan Deacon, Chair of the SPA, said: "I am pleased that through constructive dialogue we have reached agreement on an investment in pay that recognises the significant and valuable work that our police officers do in keeping the people of Scotland safe.

"Police officers represent a substantial portion of the police workforce and budget.

"This deal over a 31-month period provides both individuals and policing with certainty as we plan and implement the further transformation of policing to meet the needs of a changing Scotland."

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: "The pay award represents a significant and deserved outcome for police officers.

"Every single day, our hard-working officers and staff are keeping people safe and demonstrating the highest levels of leadership and public service.

"They've done this consistently since the creation of Police Scotland, clearly showing that they are our most valued asset, so it's only right that their dedication and commitment is recognised appropriately."

'Important recognition'

Justice Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf said: "This strong deal for Scotland's police officers is an important recognition of the vital work they do to support safer, stronger communities.

"It also reflects the positive relations between police officers and employers in Scotland where we have retained collective pay bargaining.

"The Scottish Government has worked closely with the SPA and Police Scotland to finalise this two-and-a-half year deal which puts more cash into officers' pockets while giving them and their families certainty."

Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said: "It is worth noting that even allowing for the extended period of this pay award, this represents the greatest uplift to police pay for over 20 years and the value of immediate payment on pay and pension as opposed to an extended year deal cannot be ignored."



Scottish Government and Equal Pay(21/09/18)




Here's a report from The Times with more details about the Scottish Government's willingness to step in and provide important areas of the economy with financial help.

So if it's good enough for the shipbuilding industry and the education sector, surely Glasgow as Scotland's largest council has an equally good case?  

  

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/sturgeon-adviser-s-shipyard-was-given-45m-8w687pbb7

Sturgeon adviser’s shipyard was given £45m


By Hamish Macdonell - The Times

Jim McColl was a Yes supporter in the independence vote and is on Nicola Sturgeon’s council of advisers - Photo ANDREW MILLIGAN/PA

A shipyard owned by an adviser to Nicola Sturgeon was handed £45 million of public money to ensure the survival of the site, ministers have admitted.

Derek Mackay, the finance secretary, said the money had been given to Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow — owned by the billionaire Jim McColl — for a “continuation of work” and to help finish an overdue order for two ferries.

The Scottish government had previously insisted the money was to help the yard diversify and win new orders. But Mr Mackay has now admitted that the financial support was to protect the “viability” of work at the yard and the delivery of its projects.

The Scottish government is already paying £97 million for the ferries via Caledonian Maritime Assets, the state-owned company that procures boats for Caledonian MacBrayne, the west coast ferry operator.

Mr Mackay’s admission came in the Scottish parliament when he was questioned by Jamie Greene, of the Scottish Conservatives.

Mr Greene seized on the disclosure, revealed in The Times last week, that Ferguson received two loans: one for £30 million this year and another for £15 million last year, which was not publicised by ministers at the time.

Asked to explain what the money was for, Mr Mackay said: “The financial support for Ferguson is to ensure the delivery of, the viability, the ongoing continuation of work at the yard, to ensure they had working capital. Of course they want the delivery of the new vessels as well.”

Mr McColl took over Ferguson at Port Glasgow after it went into administration in 2014. It is owned by his Clyde Blowers empire. The following year the yard was awarded a £97 million contract to build the ferries.

Mr McColl, 66, was the most prominent business backer of the Yes campaign in 2014, although he has pulled back from his clear support for independence since then.

He is on the first minister’s council of advisers and has blamed Caledonian Maritime, the company buying the ferries, for delays in the boats’ delivery.


Scottish Government and Equal Pay (19/09/18)



The Herald reports that the Scottish Government has been providing financial help the shipbuilding industry as well as to Scotland's education sector. 

So far at least, the Scottish Government has been silent on what kind of support might be available to Scotland's largest council to help Glasgow meet the cost of its equal pay obligations.

But I'm an optimist in these situations and I've always found that 'if there's a will, there's a way' - though I have to admit Glasgow's case would be a great deal stronger, if the voices of the city's 8 MSPs were being raised in support of their local constituents. 

Because they've all been strangely silent up till now.

  

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16860964.row-over-secret-15m-loan-to-sturgeon-advisers-company/

Row over 'secret' £15m loan to Sturgeon adviser's company


By Tom Gordon - The Herald


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Ferguson Marine owner Jim McColl.

MSPs have voiced concern after it emerged the Scottish Government has now loaned almost £50m to a struggling firm owned by a billionaire adviser to Nicola Sturgeon.

Ministers announced earlier this year that they had loaned £30m of public money to ferry builder Ferguson Marine, the last commercial shipyard on the Clyde.

However it has now emerged that the government also gave a £15m loan to the firm, owned by Monaco-based engineering tycoon Jim McColl, in September last year.

The information was shared with Holyrood’s finance committee but withheld from the taxpayers who ultimately supplied the funds because of “commercial confidentiality”.

At the time, Ferguson Marine was struggling to meet the deadline for filing its accounts.

It was due to lodge its annual statements for 2016 by 30 September 2017.

It failed to do so, and has still not filed them with Companies House, meaning its last full-year public financial disclosure covers the year to 31 December 2015.

Mr McColl, who sits on the First Minister’s council of economic advisers, bought Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow after it went into administration in 2014.

READ MORE: £100m ferry contract branded 'shambles' after new delays

The following year Ferguson’s won a £97m Scottish Government contract to build two new ‘dual fuel’ ferries for government-owned CalMac, securing work for the 150 staff.

However the contract has not gone smoothly, with the two vessels delayed from summer and autumn of this year to summer 2019 and spring 2020, despite Mr McColl personally reassuring ministers last year that the boats would be delivered on time.

In June, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced a £30m loan to Fergusons to help the firm “diversity” into low-carbon marine projects and decommissioning work.

“The loan is a strategic investment in our industrial capability as both the marine engineering sector and commercial shipbuilding have vital roles to play in Scotland’s future,” he said.

READ MORE: Greens demand details on £30m loan to Sturgeon adviser's business

However Mr Mackay made no mention that he had already loaned Ferguson up to £15m just nine months previously, and that this had already been fully drawn down by April.

That information only emerged after the Scottish Government was asked under freedom of information law if it had given any public funds besides the declared £30m loan to Ferguson Marine or to Mr McColl’s Clyde Blowers empire, which ultimately owns the enterprise.

The government replied: “In September 2017 the Scottish Government agreed to provide a commercial loan facility of up to £15 million to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited.

“This facility was fully drawn in the financial year 2017-18 and the expenditure will be recorded in the Scottish Government’s Consolidated Accounts for 2017-18 when they are published in September 2018.”

A government spokesman added: “Scottish shipbuilding has a long and proud history, and it is essential we continue to support the industry to thrive and help it reach its full potential.”

Tory MSP Jamie Greene said: “This is a significant sum of public money secretly provided to a private company and the SNP has conspicuously failed to announce it or explain it.

“This revelation raises many serious unanswered questions: most importantly, why was this initial £15m given to Ferguson marine and what was the money spent on?

“The SNP must urgently clarify both the process by which Ferguson Marine received £45m of taxpayers’ money and outline the loan terms and when or if taxpayers will see any return.”

READ MORE: McColl hails progress of Clyde shipyard he rescued

Labour MSP Colin Smyth linked the cash to a “fundamental problem” with the delayed ferry orders, adding: “The lack of action by the Scottish government means more and more taxpayers’ money is being poured in and these latest revelations show there has been a lack of transparency from government on how much.”

Ferguson Marine Engineering has blamed unforeseen complexities with the ferry order for delays, as the vessels are of a novel duel-fuel type, pushing up costs.

A spokesman said: “As we work with to resolve these claims with [CalMac owners] CMAL, the Scottish Government has provided us with two commercial loans in the amount of £15m and £30m. These loans also support the further diversification of the business and the securing of new contracts for the yard.”



Equal Pay - Where There's A Will, There's A Way! (10/09/18)



Paul Hutcheon reported in the Herald on Sunday that the Scottish Government is planning to inject an extra £35 million into the pay packets of Scotland's teachers. 

Over the next 15 years this will add £525 million to the teachers' pay bill in Scotland which is  'interesting', to say the very least, given the unresolved issue of equal pay in Glasgow where the City Council's WPBR pay scheme has been judged to be 'unfit for purpose' by the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court. 

Because the cost of settling Glasgow's long-running equal pay dispute is also likely to run to hundreds of millions and if this kind of money can be found for Scotland's teachers - then it really does go to show that where there's a will, there's a way. 

So I plan to share this blog post with Glasgow's MSPs including the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, as they must now surely get behind the city's equal pay claimants who have been fighting against blatant pay discrimination in Glasgow for the past 12 years. 

  

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16735846.teachers-could-get-10-pay-boost-under-35m-government-proposal/

Teachers could get 10% pay boost under £35m Government proposal


By Paul Hutcheon - Herald on Sunday

Derek Mackay

THOUSANDS of teachers could be in line for a pay boost of more than 10 per cent under a £35 million Scottish Government proposal.

The package would include a three per cent rise for teachers earning up to £80,000 a year and a separate £25m to overhaul the main grade scale for those in the profession.

However, details of the plan have angered a trade union for other local government staff who are not being offered an extra £25m.

Gary Smith, Scotland secretary of the GMB union, said: “If there is going to be a load more money for teachers, it’s going to be an explosive cocktail for public-sector pay talks.”

Read more: Teachers accuse councils of ‘procrastination’ over pay

Teachers’ pay is determined by a tripartite body that includes the Scottish Government, representatives from councils – as the employer – and union negotiators.

However, the group has failed to reach an agreement after the teaching unions called for a 10 per cent pay rise.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which represents most teachers north of the Border, has signalled that strike action could be taken unless their demand is met.

Leaked papers from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which represents councils, provide a detailed summary of the revised proposal.

In March, Cosla made an initial offer to all bargaining groups, including teachers, of a three per cent rise for staff earning up to £36,500 and two per cent for those on higher salaries. The proposal was rejected.

Derek Mackay, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, then wrote to Cosla last month and agreed to an additional £10m which would extend the three per cent rise to teachers earning between £36,501 and £80,000.


Read more: Proposals to boost teaching profession unveiled by Lib Dems

He also backed another £25m for a wider “restructuring” of the main pay scale, aimed at improving recruitment and retention.

The paper noted: “The Scottish Government has proposed a better offer for teachers and is prepared to fund it. Collectively it represents an investment over its two elements of £35m.”

Cosla, which is responsible for making a formal pay offer, backed the plan this month and teacher representatives are now considering the detail.

A local authority source said the two elements, taken together, could result in a sizeable number of teachers getting a rise in excess of 10 per cent.

The Cosla paper cautioned that the new plan would not “guarantee a settlement” with the unions, but stated: “What it would do, however, is force a decision by the EIS to gamble or settle. Gambling on getting a mandate for industrial action in pursuit of an unachievable claim when three per cent is on the table and a desirable restructuring of the main grade on offer would be a bold move by a trade union not known for foolhardy decisions.”

The document also suggested that the Government had “expressed an eagerness” to “de-couple” that rise from the pay scale revamp, on the grounds that the second element is a “policy intervention” designed to correct a “failure” in the teacher market.

Smith’s GMB members, who include cleaners and care workers, have also been offered three per cent – which the union rejected – but not an additional £25m.

“We don’t grudge teachers anything, but our members are doing more work than ever. It will add fuel to the fire,” he said.

Councillor Gail MacGregor, Cosla resources spokesperson, said the Government’s £10m had been “matched pound for pound” by council leaders for the general workforce: “It should not be forgotten that Scottish local government is the employer and the one making the offer. We are also funding the vast majority of the offer to teachers within the limited resources we have at our disposal – so it would be wrong to solely focus on the £10m from Government.

Read more: SNP under fire as public satisfaction in schools, NHS and transport plummets

“Secondly there is a separate discussion around the £25m for restructuring of the pay grade and a joint commitment to look at that – but that is nothing to do with the pay deal it is totally separate.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Teachers’ pay is a matter for the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) and negotiations for 2018-19 are now well under way and making progress.”

An EIS spokesperson said: “At this week’s SNCT Extended Joint Chairs meeting an amended pay offer was proposed. The teachers’ side of the SNCT will now consider the offer in detail. A further negotiating meeting of the Extended Joint Chairs is scheduled for the September 18, where the teachers’ side will respond formally to the offer.”

Who Gets What and Why? (07/09/16)




Over the past 16 years Scotland has put an extra £12.6 billion pounds in the pay of the country's school teachers, courtesy of the landmark McCrone Agreement which increased their basic pay by an eye-watering 23.5% in the year 2000. 

The implementation cost of this fully funded pay increase was £800 million a year and this huge sum of money is now part of the Scottish Government's base budget - a budget which virtually double between 1997-2007, as did the spending power of Scotland's 32 local councils.

A year earlier the Scottish council employers signed up to the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement which was designed to tackle low pay at the bottom end of the local government pay ladder and sweep away years of widespread pay discrimination against a wide range of very low paid, female dominated jobs.

The 1999 Single Status Agreement covered over 100,000 of the lowest paid council employee and included cleaners, catering staff, clerical workers, classroom assistants, home carers and so on.

The cost of 'single status' was estimated at £450 million at the time, but unlike McCrone the landmark equal pay agreement was not fully funded and relied upon future pay settlements and productivity gains to achieve its worthy goals.

So looking back all these years later the position is that 70,000 teachers have benefited to the tune of £800 million every year while more than 100,000 of the lowest paid council employees have had to fight tooth and nail for their right to equal pay.

Interestingly, a debate is now underway about the standard of teaching in Scotland's schools and one body of opinion is that the underlying problems are exacerbated by relative poverty and poor living standards amongst working class parents.

Now I don't grudge teachers a decent pay increase, but I think it is obscene that one group of council employees should be treated so much better than another which is, of course, exactly what happened over the McCrone and Single Status pay agreements.

The McCrone Agreement was struck by the Labour/Lib Dem coalition government which was in power in Holyrood at the time, but the deal and allocation of an extra £800 million every year was supported by all of the mainstream political parties including the SNP which now dominates the political scene north of the border.

So the big question is how do the people at the bottom of the pay ladder catch up and improve their circumstances, comparatively speaking, if those above them in the pay pecking order keep pulling ahead?

If you ask me, a far better and more socially just use of that £800 million a year of public money would have been to allocate a large chunk of it to the people at the bottom of the pay ladder.

But for this to happen, in future, the government of the day will need to stop using public money to bolster the interests of comparatively well paid groups in Scottish society who also benefit hugely and disproportionately from other areas of public policy such as free university tuition and the extension of free school meals.


  

A4ES - Checking Your Details



In the past couple of days there has been a flood of enquiries to the A4ES office about the status of people's equal pay claims in Glasgow.

A4ES claimants can actually check these details themselves online and if anything needs updating, for example a change of address, this can be done on line as well.

The A4ES web site can be found at: www.a4es.co.uk

The procedure for A4ES clients to access the records system is explained below, but there is no need for anyone to contact the Glasgow Employment Tribunal office.  

If any claimants have particular concerns, the best way to raise a query is by email to the A4ES office at: enquiries@action4equality.co.uk    


  

A4ES - Checking Your Details

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/5febe3f9d00fdc0359aca075a/images/b3accdec-bd2b-4dc3-8750-419f1831d763.png

Lots of readers from Glasgow have been in touch recently to check on the status of their equal pay claims with Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) and/or to update their personal details on the A4ES records system.


You can now check things for yourself and update your personal details, as necessary, via the following link to the A4ES web site: www.a4es.co.uk
Click the  button on the Home page. You will be prompted to enter your National insurance Number (NI No:) and Password (Please note that neither your NI No: or Password can include any spaces, in addition you Password is case sensitive so you will need to enter the correct capital and lower case letters. 

If you do not know your password you can click the Forgotten Password link, this will prompt you for your NI No: Complete this field and select the Reset Password Button. You will then be sent an email with your password to the email address we have on record for you. (Please make sure to check your junk or spam emails if you have not received the email)

If your personal records need updating, you can either send us an email to: enquiries@action4equality.co.uk or you can select the edit button and advise of the amendments you wish to make.



  

Megalomania and Me



Here's a great article by CNN's Chris Cillizza which gives an insight into the ups and downs of political reporting when America's president and 'leader of the free world' is an unstable megalomaniac.   

  

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/09/26/politics/donald-trump-press-conference-analysis/index.html







Donald Trump's me, me, me, me press conference


Washington (CNN) On the eve of a potentially make or break moment for his Supreme Court nominee, President Donald Trump held a press conference to talk about his favorite subject: Himself.

Asked about whether he believed the women who had made accusations of sexual assault or inappropriate conduct against Brett Kavanaugh were liars, Trump responded by noting that he also had been the target of allegations like this.

"I've been accused ... by four or five women, who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me who made a lot of money," Trump said.

(Fact check: More than a dozen women have accused Trump of a variety of charges relating to sexual behavior. He has denied all the charges and threatened to sue those women after the conclusion of the 2016 campaign. He hasn't filed any of those lawsuits.)

(Fact check 2: Trump's one-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has testified under oath that Trump directed and coordinated payments to two women -- porn star Stormy Daniels and ex-Playmate Karen McDougal -- aimed at buying their silence in the lead-up to the 2016 vote. Both women alleged they had extramarital affairs with Trump in the mid 2000s.)

That answer -- comparing his own accusers to those of Kavanaugh -- surely made Senate Republicans who are desperately trying to confirm the judge groan. It was far from the only time that Trump turned a question (OK, any question) at the press conference into a soliloquy about his greatness.

When asked about Kim Jong Un, Trump said that if he had not been elected president, the United States and North Korea would be at war now.

When asked about his planned meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tomorrow, Trump said that Rosenstein had been "very nice" to him.

Why the next 24 hours may be the most important of Trump's presidency so far

When asked what sort of message he was sending by raising questions about Kavanaugh's accusers, Trump noted that he had won 52% of the female vote in 2016.


(Fact check 3: He actually won 41% of the women's vote. He won 52% of white women. He received 4% among black women and 25% among Hispanic women. Here's the exit poll to prove it.)

When asked about the impact of his tariffs on farmers, he noted that farmers love him.
When he called on a reporter for The New York Times, he said the reporter -- Mark Landler -- should thank him for the profits the company was making.

Again and again and again, Trump turned the conversation to himself. It was an 81-minute running riff on a) all the things HE has done and b) all the things HE doesn't get credit for.


A Very Stable Genius (20/07/18)




How clever is this song by Randy Rainbow who lays bare the vulgar, boastful, and unpleasant character of the 45th president of the United States - for all to see.

  

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Glasgow - Strike Action



Here's an update from Unison on the strike action that's planned in support of the fight for equal pay in Glasgow.

Equal Pay Strike Action Update

Last week the UNISON branch made a request to the UNISON UK Leadership for strike action in Education and Cordia. Due to the restrictions of the current anti-trade union laws the exact details of the request cannot be shared at the moment however the shops stewards from the two groups have been involved in determining our next steps.

Our 5,000 UNISON members will now move towards strike action, and we will co-ordinate that action with our sisters and brothers in the GMB trade union.

We have given the council ten months to make progress on addressing the historical discrimination suffer by thousands of workers across the council. However the council has agreed nothing. Offered nothing. All we have had are meetings about meetings, talks about talks and more court hearings. It’s time for some action.

Watch this space…..


Now organising a strike, or even calling for one, is a very serious business and no trade union does this lightly.

Yet Glasgow City Council's response, so far at least, has been to call the unions 'irresponsible' as if their members are sheep who are not entitled to feel really aggrieved about the way they've been treated for years.

The Council's official spokesperson is quoted as saying that the return to the Employment Tribunals was planned all along and is nothing to get excited about:

"We remain fully committed to resolving the equal pay issue through continuing negotiations and to making an offer in December.

“This position has not changed, however, all sides previously agreed that, at some point, we may wish to go to a tribunal to seek adjudication on specific issues.


"As it can take a long time to secure a tribunal slot, today’s hearing, which was applied for jointly with the unions, was merely to secure a placeholder – to minimise any wait – should the need arise.”

“The union has asked its members to back strike action on the basis of a schedule of negotiations it not only agreed, but also signed up to on their behalf.

“The council has committed to make an offer in December, which it will do, and we are committed to discuss the component parts of that offer prior to that.

“The union also knows full well that strike action cannot possibly make this process move any faster.”


The problem is that these comments are completely disingenuous because there have been no negotiations to settle its long-running equal pay dispute - not one issue of substance has been agreed after 9 months and 20 separate settlement meetings.

None of the comparators put forward by the Claimants Side (months ago) have been accepted by the Council, yet the claimants are somehow expected to believe that all will suddenly 'come good' in a few short days before Christmas.   

If you ask me, these comments are treating the equal pay claimants with enormous disrespect, but the problem is that the Council spokesperson speaks for the Leader of the Council (Susan Aitken) who ought to know better. 

The reality is that the settlement process has broken down because there has been no attempt on the Council's part to negotiate in good faith.

Negotiations operate by the parties setting out their respective positions and agreeing to work through all the key issues one-by-one, making progress on the individual areas that are in dispute (e.g the 37 hour rule, which male comparator jobs to use, NSWP payments, holiday pay etc.) and carefully reviewing the package as a whole before arriving at a final agreement.

Nothing like this has happened in Glasgow which is why all the cases have now returned to the Employment Tribunals and why the GMB and Unison have won massive mandates for strike action from their members.  

Yet the Council deliberately misrepresents the position with these cowardly comments from an anonymous 'spokesman'

No wonder the claimants are angry - read the full story via the following link to the Evening Times.

https://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/16903267.glasgow-council-hit-back-over-equal-pay-claimants-anger-and-frustration-over-lack-of-progress/


  

Glasgow - 'You Can't Have It Both Ways' (26/09/18)



Here's an update Stefan Cross posted on Facebook to summarise what happened at yesterday's Employment Tribunal hearing in Glasgow.

So the scene is now set - earlier this year the City Council promised serious negotiations to end this long-running dispute in response to an earlier threat of industrial action.

But the negotiations never happened and the important point to note is that not a single issue of real substance has been agreed after 9 months and 20 separate settlement meetings.  


The Council insists that a settlement offer will be made before the end of the year, but will it be a realistic offer - or will it only be as 'serious' as the non-existent negotiations promised earlier this year.  

Time will tell, as ever, but I can see no evidence to suggest that the Council 'leopard' has suddenly changed its spots and is acting in good faith since up until now all the talking has been in vain. 

Industrial action now seems unavoidable to me and if strikes do go ahead, this will be a very big deal indeed because Glasgow's equal pay strikes will be taking place in Scotland's largest council and they will be the first of their kind in the history of Scottish local government.

In other words the City Council can't have it both ways - the days of endless talks and sham 'negotiations' have finally come to an end.      


  

AND THE ROUTE IS SET - UPDATE FROM TRIBUNAL



First, thank you to all the women that turned up to the hearing. An amazing turnout. Very impressive. Now they’ll understand a bit more what boring lives we lawyers lead. Bodyguard it ain’t!

I won’t bore you with the gory details so this is just a summary. As with most court hearings there were good and bad bits, but overall I was pleased with the outcome. We didn’t get everything I wanted but we got a lot of it. The most important part was that we got a clear route map in tribunal if negotiations fail and the council do not produce an acceptable offer by the end of the year.

I need to stress that we still think negotiations are the best way forward. The problem with the tribunal is that you have no way of guaranteeing victory, some folk will do better than others (some might get nothing) and it takes forever.

What’s important is that we haven’t lost any more tribunal time allowing them the chance to properly negotiate. If we had no negotiations the timetable agreed today would probably be about the same.

However, we needed the tribunal as a backstop. It concentrates the mind knowing that no deal means back to tribunal ASAP.

So, if there is no deal we’ve agreed a 3 pronged attack. First, remedies for protection at least for ex manual workers. This will be sometime March to May. The tribunal will set dates in the next month. 


Second, starting the Equal Value process for everyone, but particularly for non manuals and new claims. This is a horribly long process but the first date will be in November this year. We hope even if we get no deal we will reduce the number of jobs that need to go through this process.

Third, a hearing to determine the rest of the major issues such as NSWP, ECD, Part time work and the treatment of Cordia staff. This will be listed in the period of June to August next year. Again dates to be fixed in the next month. I know a lot of those that attended today thought this was a long way but believe me this is a very tight timescale. It’s a very comprehensive route map.

It should also be said that the council remained committed to the December negotiations timetable they set. I’m not convinced but happy to let them prove me wrong. We are told that there will be important developments on this front this week. I shall report as soon anything is confirmed.

So not a champagne day, but a solid important day.

The claimant group will be meeting again to review where we are and no doubt the unions will report to their members too.

As always I shall follow your comments with interest


Stefan Cross

When is a negotiation not a negotiation? (23/08/18)



Q. When is a negotiation not a negotiation?

A. When one of the parties involved (i.e. GCC) refuses to engage with, or respond positively to, detailed settlement proposals put forward by the other side (i.e. the Claimants Group comprising A4ES, GMB and Unison).

The reality is that after 8 months and 18 settlement meetings, meaningful negotiations with Glasgow City Council have still not got off the ground. 

Which explains why all the outstanding claims are going back to the Glasgow Employment Tribunal in September and why the trade unions (GMB and Unison) are now balloting their members on industrial action.

The problem is that 'good faith' negotiations have not been taking place and the Council Side is refusing to discuss in detail (never mind agree) which traditional male jobs should be used as 'comparators' for the purpose of calculating compensation for 12,500 low paid claimants.

So the litigation has not ended, despite what some people say.

Instead the focus of the litigation is shifting from the UK Supreme Court to the Employment Tribunal, as a result of the Council moving at such a 'glacial speed' and its refusal to negotiate properly with the Claimants via their representatives.  

Incredibly, when the cases do go back to the Employment Tribunal the current SNP led Council will be in the crazy position of defending the discriminatory practices of a 2007 WPBR pay scheme (including the notorious 37 hour rule) which has already been judged as 'unfit for purpose' by the highest civil court in Scotland, the Court of Session.     

  

When is a negotiation not a negotiation? (21/08/18)



Glasgow City Council leader, Susan Aitken, is attending today's settlement meeting with A4ES, GMB and Unison after the last meeting (Number 17) with council officials descended into farce.

Now, as Council leader and as leader of the SNP in opposition, Susan Aitken is 'on record' as saying that she believes GCC has been underpaying its female dominated workforce for years.

But senior officials do not agree with the Council leader which is why there have been no meaningful negotiations on the size of the pay gap between traditional male and female council jobs.

In effect, council officials are still defending the WPBR and the blatantly discriminatory aspects the scheme such as the notorious 37 hour 'rule' which was introduced in 2007 even though the WPBR has been judged to be 'unfit for purpose' by the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court.

So the reality is that the litigation in Glasgow has not ended and all of the issues still in dispute are heading back to the Employment Tribunals in September - because of the lack of progress in 'negotiations' which have been underway since the start of 2018.

The trade unions (GMB and Unison) are also now recommending strike action, not because they are being unreasonable or looking for a fight, but because council officials are far more interested in defending their advice and behaviour in respect of the 'unfit for purpose' WPBR - instead of putting their hands up and accepting that they got things terribly wrong back in 2007. 

  


When Is a negotiation not a negotiation? (13/08/18)



Q. When is a negotiation not a negotiation?

A. When one of the parties involved (i.e. Glasgow City Council) goes back on its word and arrogantly tries to impose its will on everyone else. 

Now I was a professional negotiator for many years, latterly as Head of Local Government for Unison (Scotland), and I think the following words fairly describe what a proper 'negotiation' is all about: 

"A give and take bargaining process between two or more parties (each with their own aims and objectives) which sets out to find common ground and reach  agreement - to settle a dispute or other matters of mutual concern."


In other words it takes two (sometimes more) to tango and only months ago Glasgow City Council was keen to tell the world that a 'new dawn had broken' and that under new leadership Scotland's largest council would finally bring the country's longest running equal pay dispute to an end - by negotiation.

Sadly this has proved not to be the case because last Tuesday (7th August), senior council officials abruptly announced there was no point in having further settlement meetings and that they would be working on their own proposals which would be 'presented' to the Claimants Side (A4ES, GMB and Unison) in November 2018. 

So after all the talk about the need for a step-by-step, detailed and agreed process Glasgow City Council tears up its own 'rule book' and decides it will draw up its own solution to Equal Pay - just as the Council did previously with its WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review) which the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, judged to be 'unfit for purpose' in August 2017. 

Why does this matter so much?

Because the Council is trying to decide unilaterally which male comparators to use in putting forward offers of compensation to thousands of equal pay claimants across Glasgow, but behind closed doors and without the agreement of the Claimants' representatives - A4ES, GMB and Unison


Up until now I would have said that senior council officials are responsible for these 'wrecking ball' tactics because this is effectively the same group of officials who have been defending the WPBR for years and urged the City Council to appeal the Court of Session's landmark 'unfit for purpose' judgment to the UK Supreme Court in London.


In the following comments for The Herald newspaper the Council leader, Susan Aitken, insists:


“I’ve always been clear that I don’t believe the council has been paying men and women equally for the work they do. We need to compensate women for years of underpaying them, and we need a new pay and grading system that rewards everyone fairly."


But if there is no agreement on the 'pay gap' between male and female jobs which has been operating under the WPBR (for 12 years and counting) - there can obviously be no agreement on how to compensate claimants, fairly at least, for all the years they have been cheated and robbed of what they were due by the WPBR pay scheme which is underpinned by blatantly discriminatory practices including its cockamamy 37 hour 'rule'.


So while Susan Aitken talks about 'good faith' the reality is that the SNP led administration is behaving no differently to the Labour run Council in 2005 which set out to bully thousands of low paid Glasgow claimants into accepting scandalously low offers of settlement of their equal pay claims.