Monday, 22 October 2018

Glasgow MSPs and MPs

A number of claimants from the Glasgow Cathcart constituency have been in touch to say that their local MSP, James Dornan, has cancelled two meetings with them in recent days - meetings which were arranged to discuss the ongoing fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council.

The reason given was that 'tensions' are running high because of the equal pay strike which is an odd excuse for a political to offer because the claimants were certainly keen to meet and put their case across as others did recently with the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, MSP for Glasgow Southside.

So let's hope that the meeting is re-scheduled soon because Glasgow's MSPs and MPs have a role to play in helping to bring this long-running dispute to a fair, just and speedy conclusion. 


Glasgow's MSPs and MPs (11/10/18)

The next time a Glasgow MSP or MP says that they can't get involved in the fight for equal pay with Glasgow City Council - tell them, politely, to put a 'sock in it'.

Because while the politicians don't have the powers to instruct independent organisations how to go about their own business, they obviously can express their opinions - and do so regularly as this article from The Herald demonstrates.  

Now James Dornan is the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart which is a long way from Stirling Castle, but that didn't  stop James from speaking out publicly over what he regarded as an injustice over the use of a car park.

So how much stronger is the case for Glasgow's MSPs and MPs to be backing their local constituents in the fight for equal pay in Scotland's largest council - a delicate matter for sure because the City Council is now SNP-led.

But if you ask me the fact that most of Glasgow's MSPs and MPs are members of the SNP makes no difference, or shouldn't do so at least, because the issue is about finding a solution to a long-running dispute rather than party politics.

SNP MSP accused of bullying amid row over Stirling Castle independence ban

By Alistair Grant - The Herald

James Dornan

A SENIOR SNP politician has been accused of a “pathetic attempt at bullying people who are only doing their job” amid a row over independence demonstrators being banned from Stirling Castle.

The 500 Miles group, which has been walking 500 miles around Scotland in support of independence, said campaigners were asked to leave the castle car park over the weekend, with staff even calling the police.

Historic Environment Scotland later confirmed an employee had moved to break up the “unauthorised demonstration”, following “normal procedure”.

READ MORE: Independence walk group claim 'concerted attack on Yes movement' after Stirling Castle ban

It came after the government quango was accused of acting unlawfully in denying the use of HolyroodPark in Edinburgh for “the biggest independence rally yet”.

Responding to a statement by HES on Twitter, SNP MSP James Dornan, convener of Holyrood's local government committee, wrote: “Can you confirm for me, what is the maximum number of tourists you would allow to congregate together before calling the police? Thanks.

“Taken in conjunction with your decision to ban stalls and a stage on Saturday this really does your reputation no good whatsoever.”

Alastair Cameron, founder of anti-independence group Scotland in Union, accused Mr Dornan of trying to bully the heritage body.

He said HES was “entirely consistent” and had refused permission for a pro-UK event in the run up to the 2014 referendum.

He wrote on Twitter: “Pathetic attempt at bullying people who are only doing their job.”

He added: “I've known since 2014, when @HistEnvScot denied organisers of 'Big No' permission to use Holyrood Park, that they don't allow political events.

“Over the last week, we've learned @HistEnvScot don't allow political non-events either.”
READ MORE: Independence walk group claim 'concerted attack on Yes movement' after Stirling Castle ban

Mr Dornan said Mr Cameron "should look up the meaning of bullying".

He added: "There was no ‘event’ when the member of staff called the police therefore it can’t be compared to a previous one.

"The questions I asked are entirely valid and, whatever the reason, taken alongside the decision not to allow the ‘event’ in Holyrood Park it has left an uncomfortable taste with many people.

"I have no real interest in what a spokesperson from Scotland in Union has to say but I await with interest what HES say in response to my very reasonable questions."

HES has insisted it does not allow political events of any kind to take place on its properties.

But independence campaigner Martin Keating claimed the decision to ban a rally in Holyrood Park breached human rights.

Dave Llewellyn, one of the organisers of the 500 Miles event, said the Stirling Castle row was proof of a "concerted attack on the Yes movement".

He said campaigners had been "threatened with the police by Historic Environment Scotland at Stirling Castle after being asked to leave the property and refusing".

READ MORE: Independence walk group claim 'concerted attack on Yes movement' after Stirling Castle ban

Responding to the claims, HES said: "A member of castle staff, understanding this to be an unauthorised demonstration, followed our normal procedure and engaged with the group to tell them that they would not be able to congregate on the esplanade.

"The group were also informed that we were anticipating a busy day at the castle and as such we work to ensure visitor flow and access is not disrupted.

“We can confirm that the group had made no prior approach to the site to seek permission for use of the castle esplanade. Our staff followed procedure that would be taken for any unauthorised demonstration or photo opp at our sites.”

First Minister and Equal Pay (13/10/18)

Here's a report back from a meeting that a group of Glasgow equal pay claimants had earlier today with their local MSP - Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister.

What a great initiative from the claimants involved and I'm sure what they had to say will get straight back to the City Chambers.

Glasgow's MSPs may not want to get drawn into this long-running dispute, but staying above the fray or sitting on the fence really isn't an option.

So let's hope the message hits home and that other Glasgow claimants are inspired to do beat a path to the door of their own local MSPs and MPs. 

Meeting with Nicola Sturgeon - MSP for Glasgow Southside and Scotland's First Minister 

Four equal pay claimants (members of the Facebook group) had a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon earlier today, in her capacity as MSP for the Glasgow Southside constituency - here are the main points we put across.
  • The dispute is about the refusal of Glasgow City Council to negotiate seriously with our representatives
  • The claimants have no confidence in senior council officials because this is the same group who have been defending the WPBR pay scheme for years
  • Basic issues such as which male comparator jobs to use (to calculate compensation) has still to be addressed never mind resolved - so how can the Council table a serious offer in December?   
  • After 10 months and 21 meetings with senior officials - the Council has gone back on its promise to negotiate in good faith
  • Union members have not been called out on strike by their unions - they have been demanding action from their trade unions
  • The workforce is incensed at being treated with such disrespect and arrogance by the council's chief executive 
  • The claimants are entitled to be compensated for the pay and pension rights they have lost as a result of the WPBR
  • The Council Leader deserves credit for taking a stand, but the politicians need to start listening to both sides of the argument 
Nicola listened carefully to all the points we made and our impression of Nicola's position as our local MSP was:
  • MSPs can't get directly involved in the dispute 
  • Negotiations are underway and are making good progress
  • The strikes on 23/24 October may delay a settlement 
  • Nicola supports the claimants in their fight for equal pay
  • Nicola wants to see a just settlement of this long-running dispute 
  • Nicola will take our points up with the City Council Leader, Susan Aitken
All things considered we felt the meeting was very worthwhile. We felt we got our points across and while we did not agree about everything, we believe that we gave Nicola as our MSP some real food for thought. Glasgow's politicians are clearly discussing these issues behind the scenes, so let's see more claimants getting involved with their own local MSPs and MPs.