Friday, 19 October 2018

Glasgow - More Strike News

Glasgow's most senior and highly paid official has lost the confidence of the council workforce who see her as 'part of the problem' when it comes to resolving the city's long-running equal pay dispute. 

So much so that they have voted in astonishing numbers, by majorities of 99% and 98%, to take industrial action next week in the first ever equal pay strike in the long history of Scottish local government.


In the Name of God, Go! (28/06/18)

The latest equal pay scandal involving Glasgow City Council surely means that its highly paid chief executive, Annemarie O'Donnell, has finally to accept responsibility for her own track record - and that it really is time to go.

Annemarie O'Donnell's 'fingerpints' are all over the revelations from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which concluded that the Council's WPBR pay scheme was invalid and discriminatory.

Annemarie was the Council's executive director of corporate services at the time, yet Glasgow continued defending the WPBR for years until the scheme was condemned as 'unfit for purpose' by the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, in August 2017. 

Taken together with the Glasgow ALEO debacle and second class treatment of Cordia staff Annemarie has managed to make Scotland's largest councillor like the local government equivalent of the Keystone Cops.

Read the full story in the link below to The Herald.

Equalities watchdog told Glasgow City Council its pay scheme was discriminatory in 2010 – but it fought on

By Stephen Naysmith - The Herald

Equal Pay Protest by GMB and Unison members outside Glasgow City Chambers Credit Photo - Mark F Gibson / Gibson Digital

Glasgow council chiefs walked into an equal pay catastrophe which could cost taxpayers up to £500m, despite being told eight years ago its pay scheme was discriminatory, it has been revealed.

Despite knowing of this conclusion by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – which had been investigating the council's pay policy since 2009 – the city continued to fight its female employees, discriminate against them, and rack up costs as it defended the controversial Workplace Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) which had been put in place to stave off equal pay claims.

The public sector union Unison has now written to current Glasgow councillors, briefing them on the findings of the EHRC investigation ahead of a meeting of the City Administration Committee on Thursday where councillors are expected to confirm the scrapping of the existing pay policy.

Both Glasgow City Council and the EHRC had refused to make the watchdog's conclusions public, despite freedom of information requests from campaigners. However council leader Susan Aitken is understood to have insisted the findings be released as part of her commitment to negotiate a settlement and end the council's legal battle with 6,000 of its female workers who have brought equal pay claims.

Read more: Councils face paying millions extra to female staff pensions

Glasgow only conceded the claims were valid after a series of reversals in the courts in February this year.

But Scotland's statutory equalities body, after a detailed, independent investigation, had told the council in 2010 that the pay scheme was invalid and discriminatory.

Part of the investigation looked at the WPBR and whether the council's scheme breached the 1970 Equal Pay Act.

In reports to the council in January and February 2010, the EHRC said that both the design and the implementation of the pay structure appeared to be unfair to women workers.

The first concluded “There must therefore be considerable doubt as to whether the design of the job evaluation system used by Glasgow City Council to underpin its Workforce Pay and Benefits Review complies with equal pay legislative requirements generally but also specifically in relation to Pupil Support Assistants employed by the Council".

The second report, agreed and went further, stating: "It is difficult to escape the conclusion that ... payments, which are paid disproportionately to men, are offsetting the loss of bonuses"

Although the pay review had improved the lot of women workers, it still left them earning less than men in similar roles, and denied them access to supplementary payments which were largely on offer only to men. However Glasgow officials continued to insist the pay scheme treated people equally.

Read more: Glasgow City Council accused of perpetuating equal-pay discrimination

It is not clear whether the elected council members at the time were informed of the outcome of the 2009 investigation or its potential financial implications.

Unison claims the council should have recognised the Commission's expertise and worked with it to fix the policy.

Peter Hunter, Unison regional manager for Scotland, said: "The implications of the EHRC papers are very clear. WPBR is invalid, discriminatory and unsuitable to be relied on. The fact that elected members are only now considering the major implications of an investigation from 2009 to 2011 suggest that governance arrangements have failed."

"Why was the litigation allowed to continue for so many years when the council knew that several independent experts had made such critical findings about the merit of the scheme?"

GMB Scotland Branch Secretary Rhea Wolfson said: "The level of knowledge someone at the council had, and did nothing with, is enough to take your breath away. Eight years later here we are, women are still working under this scheme while the council has known for nearly a decade it was discriminatory. It is unbelievable."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “In 2009 the EHRC had a concern about the terms and conditions of Pupil Support Assistants. This report set out their concerns. After a period of negotiation we reviewed the terms and conditions of PSAs and ensured that they were being paid fairly. The EHRC wrote to us in 2013 confirming they were content with the new arrangements and closing their investigation.

“Earlier this year, the council’s City Administration Committee took a decision not to continue with litigation and we expect to begin the process of implementing a new pay and grading structure in the coming weeks.”

Council leader Susan Aitken said: "Today, I am bringing forward another paper to the Council to abandon the WPBR, the pay scheme within which discrimination was embedded. I want a commitment from the Council to implement a fair and just pay and grading scheme which pays equally for equal work and which our employees have confidence in.

"The City Government will continue to work with employee representatives to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of a decade ago and expose ourselves to fresh inequalities."

Glasgow - A Resigning Matter? (01/05/18)

Why has no one resigned or been sacked over the appalling handling of equal pay in Scotland's largest council?

Now I'm not in favour of witch hunts or scapegoating people, but I think it's a fair question to ask of Glasgow City Council especially as the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has just resigned over the WIndrush scandal.

And just days ago the Chairperson and Chief Executive of Tayside Health Board resigned after being publicly criticised by Scotland's health minister, Shona Robison.

Shona Robison herself was urged to resign last week during First Minister's Questions after a cancer patient, Margaret Goodman, had a nightmare experience at the hands of the Scottish Ambulance Service and her local NHS Accident and Emergency department. 

Margaret Goodman had this to say as she called for the health minister to resign:

“It’s the one at the top – it’s always the one at the top. Who else is responsible? Who’s put this in place?”

In Glasgow City Council, senior officials are still refusing to accept responsibility, individually or collectively, for the dog's dinner they have made and continue to make of equal pay.

Officials are still proclaiming the creation of Cordia as a great success (despite its track record) and are still trying to defend their discredited WPBR pay scheme which has been condemned as 'unfit for purpose' by the highest civil court in Scotland.

So I find it quite astonishing that, so far, no one has had the integrity to reflect on their position before deciding it really is time to go.


Dying grandmother calls on Health Secretary Shona Robison to quit after 'horrific' ordeal

By Alistair Grant - The Herald

Cancer patient Margaret Goodman

A DYING grandmother has spoken of her “horrific” experience at the hands of Scotland’s NHS after she was forced to wait hours to receive basic pain relief – despite phoning for an ambulance three times.

Margaret Goodman, 58, joined calls for embattled Health Secretary Shona Robison to resign in the wake of her treatment and insisted she had been stripped of her dignity.

Her husband Gavin was eventually forced to drive her to hospital, where the couple were told to wait in A&E on a busy Saturday night while Mrs Goodman writhed in pain.

She was finally given morphine at 3am – more than three hours after she had first collapsed at the family home. She did not see a doctor until four hours later.

Mrs Goodman’s story was highlighted by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard during First Minister’s Questions, where he revealed more than 16,000 ambulances had taken longer than an hour to arrive during 2017.

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Goodman insisted the Health Secretary should resign as she was ultimately in charge.

She added: “This isn’t about, ‘Oh, we’ll look at it, and we’ll put something in place.’ For 16,000 people? I don’t think that cuts. I was shocked. That is scary.

“It’s the one at the top – it’s always the one at the top. Who else is responsible? Who’s put this in place?”

Wiping away tears, the former secondary school teacher from Clackmannanshire described her experience earlier this month as “horrendous”.

Mrs Goodman, who is receiving palliative care for aggressive brain cancer, was found curled up in excruciating pain at home on the evening of Saturday, April 7.

Her palliative care nurses declared it an emergency and phoned for an ambulance. But despite calling three times, none arrived.

Mr Goodman was forced to drive his wife to Forth Valley hospital in Larbert, where they were told they would have to wait in A&E, despite having a palliative care plan in place.

He added: “It was like a warzone in there. She was writhing in pain.

“So I went to the reception desk and asked if we could get Margaret fast-tracked in there, so she could be seen. No, she would have to sit and wait in the queue.”

He was forced to plead with a nurse, who “saw the state Margaret was in” and eventually took her into a cubicle and administered morphine.

Mrs Goodman added: “It only took three or four minutes. That’s all it took. But I had been trying to get pain management since 11.45pm.”

Mr Goodman, a maintenance engineer at Dollar Academy, described his wife’s treatment as “appalling”.

The 60-year-old said: “Nobody wants to be in pain. Nobody. Especially when you’ve got palliative care.

“But it wasn’t palliative care that let us down, it was the call handling to get the ambulance to her. It was nothing to do with the drivers, nothing to do with anybody else – it was the time it took.

“Where was the ambulance? We have an ambulance station a quarter of a mile from our house. We’ve had no explanation at all.”

Mrs Goodman, who was diagnosed last year and was previously an area secretary in the teachers’ union EIS, said she had deliberately put plans in place for her care early on, adding: “I’m no hero, I just wanted dignity at the end.”

Mr Leonard repeated calls for Ms Robison to step down, adding: “The debate about our NHS is not just about statistics in the end, it is about real lives and real people like Margaret."

Figures show more than 16,000 ambulances took longer than an hour to arrive last year. They were almost all for cases not considered immediately life-threatening.

During First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie echoed calls for Ms Robison to stand down after raising capacity issues at Raigmore hospital’s maternity unit in Inverness.

Meanwhile, Labour MSP Neil Findlay piled on the pressure over GP shortages, insisting Breich Valley medical practice in Bathgate had received no applicants in response to recent job adverts.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon personally apologised to Mrs Goodman for the treatment she received.

She said she would look into her case, adding: “We expect the highest standards of care for patients throughout the country."

A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon later insisted she had complete confidence in her Health Secretary.