Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Glasgow - It's Public Money!

Here's my response to Annemarie's O'Donnell's suggestion that because 'public money' is involved 'cost' will need to play a big part in determining how low paid Glasgow City Council workers should be compensated for years of being robbed and cheated by its 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay scheme.

In other words people will get only what the Council can afford - instead of what they are really due - even though everyone accepts that it's the Council's bosses who have made a complete mess of things.

But what I'd also like to know is where has this highly cautious and prudent approach to spending public money been for the past 12 years or so?

For example, in relation to the huge salaries paid to some of the council's senior officials who are directly  responsible for the strategy of defending the WPBR 'tooth and nail' in the courts for all these years.


Glasgow - Advice and Accountability (25/10/18)

Here's the first instalment in what is likely to become a series of posts explaining why I believe it is perfectly fair for Annemarie O'Donnell, Glasgow City Council's chief executive, to be be asked to resign her post.

First and foremost is the question of accountability and the fact that very senior, highly paid officials ought to be held responsible for their professional advice - because that's why they are paid such big salaries in the first place.

Now the fact of the matter is that Annemarie has been defending the Council's WPBR pay arrangements for many years and as chief executive she was directly responsible for the Council's legal strategy in the build up to the Court of Session hearing in 2017 - which resulted in three senior judges deciding unanimously that the WPBR was (and is) 'unfit for purpose'.

The political leadership of the Council, at the time, could have challenged and tried to overturn the chief executive's strategy, but they would in all likelihood have faced the threat of 'surcharge' for going against the strong legal advice of their own senior officials.

So the Labour leadership played safe and backed the chief executive's position since the threat of surcharge meant they could potentially be held personally and financially responsible, if the things went badly wrong and blew up in the Council's face.

Yet that's exactly what happened anyway - the City Council 'bet the house' on winning at the Court of Session but lost in a devastating, landmark judgment which condemned Glasgow's WPBR pay scheme as 'unfit for purpose'.

By this time (August 2017) the City Council was under new political leadership in the shape of a newly elected  SNP administration who were visibly keen on a negotiated settlement.

However, instead of facing reality and admitting that she had got things terribly wrong, the chief executive's advice was to fight on and seek 'leave to appeal' the Court of Session's decision - to the UK Supreme Court in London.

I presume the political leaders of the Council were again warned about the possible risks of surcharge, if they 'ignored' their own legal advice and tried to enter into settlement talks while another appeal was pending in the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court.

Predictably, in December 2017 Glasgow lost its 'leave to appeal' case in another unanimous judgement at the Court of Session before elected Councillors finally exerted their authority, on a cross party basis, and squashed the attempts of senior officials to continue with their plan of a further direct appeal to the UK Supreme Court. 

Against this background I think it is reasonable to criticise the chief executive's advice and judgment because she has been backing the wrong horse for years and even now defends the role of senior officials who oversaw the introduction of the WPBR in 2007 by claiming that they acted in 'good faith'.  

For the life of me, I can't see how someone who comes from a legal background and who is paid such a high salary (more than the First Minister and Prime Minister) can't see that the WPBR's notorious 37 hour rule blatantly discriminates against the City Council's largely female workforce. 

Which is why I believe that the chief executive has zero credibility with Glasgow's 12,000+ equal pay claimants -  because the lowest paid workers within the Council were badly let down by the very people who were supposed to be looking out for and protecting their interests.

So while Annemarie has enjoyed a long and lucrative local government career, she will probably be best remembered for defending so stoutly, and for so long, Glasgow City Council's indefensible pay arrangements.

More to follow - next up is Annemarie's role in the great Cordia debacle.


Glasgow - Rewarding Failure (16/04/18)

Since the WPBR was introduced in 2007 the small group of senior officials in Glasgow City Council have paid themselves a small fortune - around £27 million by my calculation, i.e. 12 x £2,250,368 = £27,004,416.

No wonder Scotland's public spending watchdog, the Accounts Commission, last year described the handling of equal pay as a 'decade long failure of local and central government'.

Glasgow's wage bill for senior officials salaries in 2017 came to £2,250,368 - the same year in which the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, condemned the WPBR pay arrangements in Scotland's largest council as 'unfit for purpose'. 

The figures are taken from Glasgow's Annual Accounts for 2016/17 and include basic salary, election duty fees and the employer's pension contributions.

Annemarie O'Donnell - Chief Executive
£167,853 plus Election Duty Fees of £46,663 = £214,515 + £38,345 =£252,860
Carole Forrest - Director of Corporate Services and Solicitor to the Council
£122,853 plus Election Duty Fees of £4,000 = £116,524 + £21,717 = £138,241

Lynn Brown - Executive Director of Financial Services (from 1 April to 30 September)
£72,893 plus Election Duty Fees of £2,000 = £74,893 + £134,147 = £209,040

Richard Brown - Executive Director of Development and Regeneration 
£135,372 + £26,127 = £161,499

Maureen McKenna - Executive Director of Education Services
£135,372 + £26,127 = £161,499

Brian Devlin - Executive Director of Land and Environmental Services (1 April to 31 December 2016)
£143,182 (includes 12 weeks pay in lieu of notice and unused annual leave) + £20,600 = £163,782

Susanne Millar - Chief Social Work Officer
£100,603 + £19,416 = £120,019

Anne Connolly - Strategic Adviser to the Chief Executive
£82,348 + £15,893 = £98,241

Chris Starrs - Executive Communications Manager (from 1 April to 28 January 2017)
£57,674 plus Election Duty Fees of £2,150 = £59,824 + £11,131 =£70,955

Morag Johnston - Action Executive Director of Financial Services (from 3 October 2016)  
£56,412 (Full Year Equivalent £122,562) + £21,825 = £78,237

George Gillespie - Acting Director of Land and Environmental Services (from 1 January 2017)
£25,959 (Full Year Equivalent £122,562) + £20,298 = £46,257

Glasgow's ALEOs

City Building - £137,477 (Graham Paterson) + £26,533 = £164,010

Glasgow Life -£135,209 (Bridget McConnell) + £23,256 = £158,465

Cordia - £105,091 (Andy Clark) + £20,426 = £125,517

City Parking - £71,980 (William Taggart) + £13,892 = £85,872

City Property - £102,521 (Pauline Barclay) + £19,787 = £122,308

Jobs and Business - £80,398 (Calum Graham) + £13,168 = £93,566


Glasgow - Rewarding Failure (11/04/18)

A little reminder from the blog site archive of the remuneration package Glasgow City Council paid its chief executive, Annemarie O'Donnell, in 2017 - the year in which the Court of Session, Scotland highest civil court, judged Glasgow's WPBR pay scheme to be 'unfit for purpose'.

Later today I'll be sharing a post on Glasgow ALEOs including Cordia which are being dismantled as 'arm's length' companies and returned to direct council control - a very good thing if you ask me!  

But Annemarie O'Donnell who is now overseeing the dismantling of these discredited organisations is the same Annmarie O'Donnell who played a key role in their creation in the first place - back in 2007/08.

So it will be interesting to see what, if anything, Annemarie has to say about this latest 'about-turn' in council policy! 


Glasgow - Rewarding Failure (23/03/18)

I plan to publish the salaries paid to all of Glasgow City Council's senior officials on the blog site over the next few days, but to kick things off here is the remuneration package for the Council's Chief Executive, Annemarie O'Donnell, for the year to 31 March 2017.

Basic Salary - £167,853

Election Duty Fees - £46,662

Employer's Pension Contribution - £38,345  

Total Remuneration - £252,860

Now 2017 was the year in which the scandal of equal pay in Glasgow City Council finally came under the spotlight as the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, handed down its damning and unanimous judgement - that the pay arrangements of Scotland's largest council are 'unfit for purpose'.

To add insult to injury, Glasgow City Council now claims to have no proper records to clarify how its controversial WPBR pay scheme was put in place back in 2005/06/07  and senior officials are either unwilling or unable to explain:
  • the WPBR's Terms of Reference
  • the WPBR's procurement arrangements
  • the cost of the WPBR to the public purse 
I don't know about anyone else, but this seems to me like a classic case of 'rewarding failure' with an eye-watering salary package which dwarfs that of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

It really is a disgrace when Glasgow City Council is in such a scandalous mess over equal pay.