Friday, 12 October 2018

Glasgow - Words Fall On Stony Ground

Glasgow City Council's attempted yesterday to sow the seeds of 'disunity' amongst the Claimant organisations with an article in the Evening Times. 

But the GMB and Unison have responded vigorously, as you would expect, and if you ask me the Council's words have fallen on stony ground.

Union leaders respond to Susan Aitken criticism over equal pay strike
By Stewart Paterson @PatersonHT - Evening Times

Union leaders have responded to the council leader Susan Aitken’s criticism of the strike action.

Ms Aitken said the Unions had misled their members over progress on equal pay negotiations and critised their role in the history of the equal pay issue.

Brian Smith, Unison Glasgow branch secretary, said: “How patronising to working class women.

“The members are pushing the union leadership on this. It is the other way round form what the council leader is saying.

“We are responding to calls from our membership.”

Mr Smith said the progress has not been what was expected.

He added: “We want significant progress on the elements that would make up someone’s settlement like job comparators, shift payments and interest payments. None of these elements has been agreed.”

On the past dealings of the unions over equal pay, Mr Smith added: “The things that have happened have happened and Stefan Cross has the most claimants

“Union members won’t like hearing anti trade union comments from the SNP leader of Glasgow City Council.”

Hazel Nolan, GMB Scotland Organiser, said: 

“'Susan Aitken is making the same mistakes as her predecessors. We are at a junction where Susan Aitken either chooses to show real leadership or continues as a mouthpiece of the same Council officials.

“The trade unions have been clear from the start that what we are seeking is meaningful negotiations so that any offer made reflects the loss suffered by our members. We remind her that the roadmap for re-engaging in negotiations has been laid out.

“Susan Aitken is deeply misled if she believes that this strike is not driven by union members unhappy with the Council’s negotiating process, and we invite her to meet with our members to have them tell her as much face-to-face.

“Any suggestion that strike action is being motivated by anything other than a desire to achieve a fair settlement for working women isn’t credible given the fact that both Unison & GMB are involved in the dispute and the strength of the mandates both unions received for action.”

Glasgow - Getting Back Round the Table

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken has written a piece for the Evening Times on the looming prospect of an historic strike over equal pay in Scotland's largest council.

Now I agree with Susan Aitken about mistakes being made in the past and I've not been slow to comment on my blog when management or the trade unions, or even elected politicians, should and could have 'done the right thing' during this long fight for equal pay. 

But the point is the unions have learned from the past, whereas senior management are still stuck in the past - in complete denial about their role in defending the 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay scheme for years, and fearful of taking responsibility for their own advice and actions.

Action 4 Equality Scotland and the trade unions are united in their belief that the breakdown in settlement talks has been caused by the Council's refusal to negotiate in 'good faith', after 10 months and 21 separate meetings with senior council officials.  

In fact, the Council's officials seemed paralysed and unable to move things forward because they don't want to admit that their judgment was poor and that their advice was wrong - over the WPBR's notorious '37 hour rule' for example.  

So I've got a suggestion to make - if the Council leader really does want to get 'serious' settlement negotiations underway, why doesn't she offer to Chair future meetings between the Claimants' representatives (A4ES, GMB, Unison and Unite) and senior council officials?  
The point is that you can't be an 'honest broker' if you're not prepared to be even-handed and to any reasonable observer it's clear that the highly paid executives at Glasgow City Council have a lot to answer for and that their advice, down the years, has been shown to be completely wrong.  

Unions failed their members: City council leader speaks out on equal pay strike

The leader of Glasgow City Council has accused union representatives of misleading members over the equal pay talks.

GMB and Unison are staging a two day strike this month over claims the council is not making progress on settlements

Susan Aitken, in an interview with the Evening Times, however has questioned the motives of the union leadership and said she is as committed as ever to securing justice and a settlement for the thousands of women.

The strike action which could involve 8000 members will close schools and hit Cordia home care services.

The council leader said the reasons given do not justify strike action and disrupting vital, in some cases lifeline, services for people in Glasgow.

Ms Aitken said she feels the members have been misinformed by their representatives.

She said: “I’m not entirely sure the women know the basis on which they are striking.

“I’m not convinced they actually know the demands made on us. They are not ‘pay up now’.

“They deserve to know that the union is not asking for it go faster.

“There is an amount of work to be gone through and we will go though it as quickly as possible.”

She said any slowdown now is down to industrial action. Industrial action which she said can achieve nothing.

She added: The most important thing is we are facing two days of disruption to services to the lives of citizens and the most vulnerable citizens in Glasgow and I’m not at all clear still what the justification for that is.

“It doesn’t seem to me to be a strong enough basis to bring your members out, to ask them to lose pay, and to shut schools in the city and the biggest concern is the home care clientele.”

The first SNP leader of Glasgow City Council, Ms Aitken, made resolving the 12 year-old equal pay dispute an election issue and after taking office got the council to agree to instruct officers to end the court appeals against the equal pay ruling it had lost.

She said the unions history on equal pay did not reflect well on its leadership.

Ms Aitken said: “I also think to be honest neither of them have a great history in this. Mr Cross and the lawyers at Action 4 Equality are doing their job but actually Mr Cross’s involvement is a symptom of the failure of the trade unions to do their job over the past 12 years.”

The council leader said she thinks the union is now trying to make up for past failings.

She said: “I think It’s hard to get away from the conclusion there’s a bit of covering their backs and covering their history on this, particularly from GMB.

“They are rivals as well. A lot of women have left GMB and joined Unison because the GMB’s representation on equal pay was so much less.”

She said effective action in the past could have prevented the years of delay and a potential strike now.

Ms Aitken added: “Had the trade unions employed their industrial muscle on this issue long before now we wouldn’t be where we are now. But they just didn’t. They failed to do that. They let the women down for a long time.

“I think a lot of sensible people in GMB and Unison would put their hands up to that and say that’s the case.”

She said her commitment to ending the dispute satisfactorily for the women is just as strong now as is it was before she was elected.

Ms Aitken said: “As far as my personal political commitment and the commitment of this city government, this strike will have no impact because it can’t strengthen our commitment. it is already there.

“My commitment to see this through and within the timetable is unshakeable. This is where I have concerns that the claimants are not necessarily being given the full story by the trade unions.

“The unions know my position they know the officers are carrying out politicians’ instructions. This could be avoided if they publicly acknowledged that to their members.

“If anyone says the SNP were forced into a settlement it simply won’t be true.

“My position hasn’t changed if anything the deeper we get into tit is has reinforced my position to see it through.”

Ms Aitken said the council agreed to a number of “red line” issues with the unions at the outset of talks.

“We agreed to commit to a negotiated settlement and all parties agreed to a timetable of talks up to the end of this calendar year.

She said the unions asked for Cordia to be brought back into the council, adding “we’ve done that.

“They asked for the Pay and Grading system to be replaced. We agreed to that and have a paper going to committee to achieve that in partnership with the unions.

“What remains outstanding is to agree the settlement and the work on that is ongoing.”

To the Trade unions Ms Aitken said: “Get back round the table please. There is nothing you are asking for we cant agree round the negotiating table.

“It’s not necessary to pull your members to and cause disruption particularly to Glasgow citizens.”

The the women, she said: “The final settlement will be a negotiated settlement in agreement with the claimants. It has to be a fair figure. The claimants get their fair due but also citizens in Glasgow get their fair due as well.”