Thursday, 31 January 2019

Questions and Answers

I said I would provide a more detailed explanation on this business of calculating the length of an equal pay claim.

1) The settlement period starts from January 2007 because this is the year when the WPBR was originally introduced - so no one can go back beyond January 2007.

2) The end date of the settlement period has still to be agreed with Glasgow City Council, but this will be somewhere between 31 March 2017 to 31 March 2018.

3) Claims already registered in January 2007 continued to 'add on' time going forward until the agreed settlement date,  so long as the claimants remained employed with Glasgow City Council.

4) If a claimant left the Council's before the agreed settlement date, their claim goes up to the last day of their employment with GCC.

5) If a claim was registered after January 2007, the claim can jump back in time for a maximum of 5 years - assuming the claimant had 5 years service at the time.

6) For example, a claim registered in January 2012 would jump back to January 2007 - and would also start to 'add on' time going forward from January 2012 up to the agreed settlement date.

7) Any claims registered later than January 2012 cannot go all the way back to the beginning because the '5 year rule' is laid down by Scots law and applies to all Glasgow equal pay cases. 

8) The period beyond the settlement date has still to be resolved in future discussions with Glasgow City Council since the WPBR is still in operation in 2019 and will not be replaced for some time, possibly in 2021.

9) Let's assume the WPBR is replaced on 31 March 2021 and that the current settlement date goes up to 31 March 2018 - this leaves a 3 year 'gap' period period which is not covered by the current settlement agreement and may result in GCC employees pursuing additional equal pay claims in 2021.

I hope this makes sense, but I'm happy to give it another crack if anything is less than clear.

The key points are that the equal pay 'clock' only starts ticking once a claim has actually been registered and the maximum period of any claim is 12 years - assuming a settlement date of 31 March 2018.


Questions and Answers (30/01/19)

I received a nice email from a regular reader of the blog who as well as passing on some kind words, asked the following follow-up question. 

Hi Mark 

I would like to say a great big thank you for every thing you have done in the fight for equal pay for the women of Glasgow 

I would also like to say thank you for keeping us up to date via your blog it's been truly helpful and informative and on that subject 

Could l please ask you could you explain the answer to question 2 (iv) how many years are claims going back ?

I don't really understand that answer

Thank you again


I'll do my best to explain this in more detail tomorrow.


Glasgow - Questions & Answers (29/01/19)

Here's the first set of Question and Answers on the Glasgow City Council equal pay settlement.

Equal Pay Update – 2019


1When will my offer come out?

• Once the Central Administration Committee approves the deal. council finance and administrative staff will process the pay data of each claimant to produce
a settlement offer. Due to the number of claims and complexity of the pay system, this is likely to take several weeksso offers are unlikely to be Issued
before June 2019.

2. How was my offer worked out?

Your offer is worked out based on:
i. The post(s) you have held with the council
ii. The length of time in each post
iii. The number of hours worked in the post,
ivSubject to a maximum 5 years back from the date of your claim(s)

3How will I know what my offer ls worth, is its full value and If less how much less?

• If the council makes you an offer, you will receive detailed legaadvice explaining the offer. The settlement ibased on legal analysis by the claimant side lawyers, with each element of the deal being measured against possible outcomes in tribunal.
• The agreement reached is a realistic estimate of what each claimant would have received in court.

4. Will I get to know my comparator?

• The settlement does nouse Individual comparators as ii was too difficult to Identify an appropriate comparatorInstead calculations are based on grade.

5. Do I need to advise the tax office?

• No, the council Is in contact with HMRC and will agree an amount in respect of all liabilities for lax and national insurance.

6What will my tax liability be?

• The lax liability will be agreed between the council and HMRC

7. How long will it take for the money to be paid?

• It is likely that payments will be made by July 2019.

8. Will this affect my benefits?

• Depending of the amount or compensationyour social security benefits may be affected. You should seek advice from a welfare rights advice service via Glasgow Advice and Information Network (GAIN)

9. This settlement only covers one period; how will the next settlement be calculated?

• The current settlement preserves all of your rights for the period after settlement until the introduction of a new pay and grading scheme.
• When the outcomes of the new job evaluation are known, probably in 2021, we will engage with the council's representatives to settle the remaining period.

10. Can I refuse this offer and what happens if I do?

• The offer Is considered a reasonable settlement of your claim and is being recommended by all off the claimants' representatives.
• The offer is made on the basis that the claimantsrepresentatives will stop representing those who refuse to accept our recommendation.
• It would then be open to you to continue with your claim in the Employment Tribunal at your own risk and expense.

11Are male claimants Included?

• Men in female dominated roles and men who held roles that can rely on female dominated roles are includedMen In roles that are part of the male dominated comparator roles will not be included as their claims did not have a reasonable chance of successMorton Fraser will be writing out soon to claimants who are not included with a detailed explanation.

Unison has kindly done the work involved in putting this document together after consulting with the other Claimant organisations - so thanks to Unison for their efforts on this occasion.

Now one question often leads to another in my experience so I imagine there will be more Question and Answer documents issued as the settlement process unfolds.

If readers have any suggestions to make, send these to me or to your own representative organisation


People Make Glasgow - Frances Stojilkovic

I've just nominated Frances Stojilkovic for the 'Scotswoman of the Year 2018' award which is being organised by the Evening Times in association with the St. Enoch Centre.

Here's what I said about Frances in support of my nomination along with an internet link explaining the background to this annual event.

More details to follow soon and the very best of luck Frances who has played such a huge role in her local community and, of course, in Glasgow's long fight for equal pay.

Because becoming 'Scotswoman of the Year 2018' would knock an OBE, MBE or even a CBE into a cocked hat any day of the week - well in my book anyway!


Frances Stojilkovic - Scotswoman of the Year 2018

I would like to nominate Glasgow’s Frances Stojilkovic as ‘Scotswoman of the Year 2018’ because she is an inspiring, irrepressible role model for women of all ages.

Frances is one of Glasgow’s 2,500 Home Support Workers and for the past 15 years she has been looking after the most vulnerable people in our local community. 

More recently Frances has played a vital role in Glasgow’s historic fight for equal pay which culminated in an agreement to settle the Council’s 14,000 outstanding cases at a cost of £500 million, after a lengthy battle in and out of the courts.

The enormous sum of money involved represents the pay and pensions which low paid, predominantly female council council workers lost over 12 years as a result of Glasgow City Council’s discriminatory pay arrangements, known locally as the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR).

The WPBR was introduced originally in 2007, but the controversial pay scheme was subsequently condemned as ‘unfit for purpose’ by the Court of Session, Scotland’s highest civil court, in August 2017.

Frances started up her own Facebook page in support of the campaign for equal pay and this has been instrumental in galvanising support across the city - not just from other low paid workers (cleaners, carers, catering workers, clerical staff, classroom assistants etc), but from the wider public as well.

Frances’s high profile role in Glasgow’s equal pay campaign attracted the attention of Anne Robinson, well known for a variety of TV roles, who made a film about the 2018 struggle for pay equality - 'The Trouble with Women’ - highlighting the need for Glasgow's campaign almost 50 years after the 1970 Equal Pay Act. 

In her spare time, Frances is also a committed community activist who has done a huge amount of voluntary work in Govanhill to increase community safety, tackle crime and generally improve the local area.

In recent years some of Glasgow’s most senior council officials have been awarded public honours from the Queen - OBEs, MBEs, CBEs - for their services to local government and the charitable sector.

So instead of the ‘usual suspects’ it would be great to see one of Glasgow’s unsung foot soldiers being recognised for her selfless contribution to better the lives of her co-workers and fellow citizens.  


Hypocrisy Over Public Sector Pay

I've had lost of comments on my post about the Scottish Government's hypocrisy over public sector pay, but the one that follows sums things up rather well of you ask me.

Bread n milk is the same price for us all bloody shocking


Now I think I'll share this particular post with Glasgow's constituency MSPs all of whom represent the SNP, of course.

And I would encourage readers to take heart from the equal pay campaign and ask their local MSPs what they have to say on the matter - including Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who represents Glasgow Southside constituency.

I've posted their contact details below in the post dated 13/01/19. 


Hypocrisy Over Public Sector Pay (30/01/19)

The BBC reports that the Scottish council employers, via COSLA, have made an improved pay offer to school teachers worth 9% to April 2019 and a further 3% in April 2020.

Compare that to the three year offer to the rest of the council workforce which is 3.5% to April 2019, plus 3% to April 2020 and another 3% to April 2021.

So after 2 years teachers' pay will rise by 12% while their council colleagues' pay will increase by just 9.5% after 3 years (the teachers pay increase is fully funded by the Scottish Government).

All of which begs the question - where is the fairness or social justice in paying one group of local council workers much more than another?

Because low paid council carers, cleaners, catering staff, clerical workers and classroom assistants all face exactly the same cost of living pressures as teachers.

And, of course, all Scottish council workers have endured the same policy of public sector pay restraint in recent years.    

So if the Scottish Government can dig deep for teachers surely it should do the same for the rest of Scotland's local government workforce.


Teachers urged to reject pay offer

By Jamie McIvor - BBC Scotland
Image copyright - PA

Scotland's largest teachers' union is urging its members to turn down an improved pay offer.

Councillors had agreed to an enhanced pay offer, with a series of rises said to be worth 9% by April, with a further 3% next year.

The EIS will ballot its members but has recommended they reject the offer.

Teaching unions had been campaigning for a 10% one-year deal. Councils have said the offer was the most they could afford.

The EIS said its council "voted narrowly" to recommend rejection of the revised pay offer.

It agreed that the ballot communication will reflect the range of opinions expressed, and arguments both for and against the offer, to support members in "making an informed decision".


EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Following today's decision at council, it will now be for our members to decide on whether to accept or reject this revised offer."

The Scottish government had indicated it would give councils money to pay for the enhanced deal.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: "It is extremely disappointing that EIS council have voted to recommend rejection of the enhanced offer agreed by Cosla earlier today and by such a narrow margin.

"This offer would see teachers receive a minimum 9% increase between January 2018 and April 2019, with a further 3% rise in April 2020.

"It is a clear indication of our commitment to recruit and retain teachers and is unmatched in the public sector. The Scottish government will provide the funding for pay restructuring in addition to the local government settlement."

Analysis: A profession on the edge over a pay dispute
Image caption - Thousands of teachers from across Scotland protested in Glasgow on the issue of pay in October

The Scottish government announced details of the new offer two weeks ago.

Mr Swinney added: "We believe that this offer represents the fair pay rise that teachers deserve, and the consultative ballot planned by EIS still presents an opportunity to get this pay rise into their members' pockets as soon as possible."
Protest rally

The EIS and other teachers' unions asked for a 10% one-year rise effective from April last year.

In October, a massive protest took place in Glasgow which is believed to have been attended by about 30,000 people.

Two weeks ago, the EIS agreed to start a strike ballot with a view to action in March. The SSTA union has also warned of a ballot.

Some teachers have been passionately supporting the 10% pay claim because they believe their workload has increased significantly or because of other concerns they want addressed.

Others may believe the revised offer is the best which might be affordable at present.

Hypocrisy Over Public Sector Pay (13/01/19)

I shared my post on public sector pay with all Glasgow Councillors, MSPs and MPs - and I'll be interested to hear what, if anything, our elected representatives have to say for themselves on the subject.

Glasgow's equal pay claimants can join in if they like, by contacting their local Councillors, MSPs and MPs directly.

If so, I would argue that the elected representative has a duty to respond to their local constituents.

So here's a list of contact email addresses for Glasgow's MSPs and MPs.

Glasgow MSPs (Scottish Parliament)

Glasgow MPs (Westminster Parliament)

Contact details for Glasgow Councillors can be found easily via the following link to the City Council's web site.


Sunday, 13 January 2019

Hypocrisy Over Public Sector Pay (13/01/19)

The Scottish Government is guilty of the most appalling hypocrisy over public sector pay. 

Where is the fairness and social justice in an 'enhanced' pay rise for teachers when other groups of  council workers have faced exactly the same pay restraint policies in recent years? 

If Scotland's teachers deserve to be made a special case, so do the thousands of low paid workers in Glasgow City Council who have been fighting for their rights to equal pay for the past 12 years.

Read the full story via the link below to Paul Huctheon's piece in The Sunday Herald.


Swinney plan would give teachers 'enhanced' pay rise of 12%

By Paul Hutcheon - Sunday Herald

John Swinney

EDUCATION Secretary John Swinney has intervened in the row over teachers’ pay by proposing a 12% multi-year rise, in a bid to avert a classroom strike.

The largest teaching union yesterday gave its approval to open a statutory ballot over the pay dispute, with notice of the action being issued to local authority employers.

However, Swinney yesterday backed a revision to the rejected offer which he hopes will be accepted this month and end the standoff.

His move is the latest development in the long-running saga over the failure to reach a deal on teachers’ pay this year. Salaries are determined by a tripartite body including the Government, council representatives and unions.

The current offer, tabled the local authorities, would give teachers earning up to £80,000 a 3% rise in three consecutive years.

A second strand includes an overhaul of the pay scale which, if accepted, could add another 2% to the salaries of some teachers this year.

However, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which represents teachers, rejected the offer and is moving towards a strike ballot.

Swinney has now suggested a change to the pay scale element that would result in a 3% uplift from this month. The package is now believed to be worth 12% over fifteen months.

As an offer can only be made by council umbrella group COSLA, it is understood Swinney’s proposal will be discussed at the next tripartite meeting.

Swinney said yesterday: “I made this proposal to the EIS on Thursday. It is an enhanced offer and I will ask COSLA to agree this and to formally offer it to unions after 25 January. I believe this must be put to teachers for their consideration.

“I welcome the agreement by EIS to allow further time to reach an agreement. Industrial action is in no one’s interests not least our children and young people. That has been my focus and will continue to be until this resolved.

“I welcome the move by EIS to allow further time to reach an agreement. Industrial action is in no one’s interests not least our children and young people. That has been my focus and will continue to be until this is resolved.”

Swinney’s suggestion came as a specially convened meeting of the EIS Council gave the green light to strike action.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "EIS Council has today approved the opening of a statutory strike ballot over pay.

"We have been negotiating for a year, on a pay claim that was due to be settled last April. Teachers' patience is now exhausted.

"Our preference has always been to agree a fair deal through negotiation, but we have been very clear, also, that we are prepared to take strike action should this be necessary to achieve an acceptable settlement.

"Ballot papers will be issued later this month. Clearly, once the actual ballot is under way, negotiations are suspended but prior to that we remain prepared to consider any improved pay offer. No offer has been forthcoming from our local authority employers, however.”

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer said: "Teachers are overworked, under-resourced and have suffered a 20% real terms pay cut. They will continue to have Green support in their campaign for fair pay."

A COSLA spokesperson said: “We remain in talks. It is in nobody’s interest to see industrial action.”

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.


Who Gets What and Why? (06/04/16)

I've been saying for a long time that in these tough economic times people living in rented accommodation have been getting a raw deal compared to their neighbours and friends who have a mortgage.

And that's because mortgage payers have seen their housing costs fall significantly over the past five years with interest rates being at artificially low levels - whereas the cost of rented accommodation keeps going up as this article from the BBC web site shows with a big increase of 7.63% in West Dunbartonshire Council, for example. 

Yet to add insult to injury the Scottish Government has announced extra spending on free school meals for a Primary 1-3 school pupils which is worth £114 million over two years or around £330 a year for each child - for families with children.

But not to the less well off families of course because their children already receive free school meals, so all these extra millions of pounds are going to support the better off - like Scotland's school teachers who enjoy much better than average pay.

Now Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, has been campaigning in support of these changes which is understandable as it is clearly in the interest of EIS members, but the bigger question is "Is such a policy fair and socially responsible?".  

I say "No" because in my view the money would be much better spent on targeting the the less well off instead of further cushioning the lives of the better paid, especially when you stop and think that the majority of teachers will have been benefiting from the mortgage situation over the past five years.

So if you ask me, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament has got this all wrong - the lower paid are the ones who deserve a break not people in already well paid jobs.  

West Dunbartonshire Council announces housing rent rise

Rents for council house tenants in West Dunbartonshire are to rise by 7.63% from 1 April, it has been announced.

The council said the increase would add an extra £4.67 each week to the average weekly rent over the year.

Housing convener, Cllr David McBride, said the rent rise was "needed to pay for the major improvements required to our properties".

He added: "Increasing rents is never an easy decision but I believe our tenants understand why we need to do this."

P1-3 pupils in Scotland to get free school meals
The Scottish government matched a plan being introduced in England

All Scottish P1-P3 pupils will get free school meals from January 2015, First Minister Alex Salmond has announced.

He said the move, affecting 165,000 youngsters, would boost health and was worth £330 a year for each child to families.

The move matches a plan being introduced in England, in September this year.

Opposition parties accused the Scottish government of playing catch-up, and taking credit for Westminster policies.

The first minister also told the Scottish Parliament that free childcare would be expanded to every two-year-old from a workless household in Scotland by August, affecting about 8,400 youngsters.

Mr Salmond said a further extension of the policy to reach 15,400 two-year-olds by August 2015 would see Scotland delivering 80 million hours of childcare to pre-school children, which he said was the greatest amount in the UK.

The free meals announcement came after UK ministers announced plans to offer pupils in the first three years of primary school in England a free cooked lunch.

Scottish ministers followed suit, partly by using extra money going to Scotland, through the Barnett Formula, as a consequence of the English plan.

Mr Salmond said the Scottish government announcements would bring improvements, but fell short of the childcare revolution which Scotland needed.

Ahead of the independence referendum on 18 September, the Scottish government said all three and four-year-olds, and vulnerable two-year-olds, would get 1,140 hours of childcare a year by the end of the first parliament, in the event of a "Yes" vote.

But opposition parties said SNP ministers had the devolved powers to realise their childcare plans now.

Mr Salmond told MSPs: "We need to create a tax welfare and childcare system that doesn't plunge children into poverty, as the UK government is doing, that puts us on a par with the best childcare systems in the world.

"That is why the future of Scotland's children is the future of Scotland, and why Scotland's future is an independent one."

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said the free school meals plan was promised by the SNP in 2007, but never delivered, adding: "Now it has been reprised, because the UK government has acted on it and provided the money."

She said of Mr Salmond's childcare vision: "What he had was an opportunity to show his new-found commitment to childcare was more than a referendum ploy and start delivering for working families and children now."

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, added: "A cynic might say that the SNP, having promised the earth and failed to deliver for years, has only now re-discovered its commitment to free school meals because the coalition government is delivering it.

"Today, we have a Westminster policy delivered with Westminster money, and the SNP playing catch-up but trying to claim the credit."

From Democracy Live: Alex Salmond announced his plan in parliament

However, the free school meal and childcare expansion plan, being funded at a total cost of £114m over two years, was welcomed by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, a long-time campaigner on the issue.

"The best educational investment we can make is in two-year-olds, because that can change their life," he said.

"If we're going to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty we can make efforts at later stages - we can do stuff about youth unemployment, we can try and improve life chances through schools - but the best impact we can make is in doing it at the age of two."

John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group, told BBC Scotland the school meals announcement was long overdue, adding: "The pressures on families and their ability to support their children are extraordinary, so providing a free school lunch to children in primary one to primary three is a very immediate, direct and well-evidenced way of supporting families at a time of increasing pressures."


BBC Political editor, Scotland

Alex Salmond's critics suggested his enthusiasm for free school meals was driven by external factors: the availability of cash from the Treasury as a consequence of the previous announcement of a comparable scheme for England; a desire to cosset parents - and especially mothers - with an eye to the referendum.

The first minister insisted he was persuaded by the advantages of the policy: it encouraged uptake including among those who were nominally eligible at present; it improved the health and wellbeing of youngsters and thus their educational attainment

Give to the Needy (29 December 2013)

In the run up to Christmas Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, burst into fairy-lights by demanding that Scotland's 'share' of the extra public spending announced recently by the Coalition Government at Westminster - should be used to provide free school meals to all children in primaries 1, 2 and 3.

Now this is serious money we're talking about - around £60 million a year, I think, because Scotland will expect to get 10% or so of the extra public spending announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in his autumn statement.

Which is of course a free handout of taxpayers money to people who earn above average incomes - because school meals are already free to people on low incomes and to those claiming benefits.

So, the big beneficiaries of the new policy in England and Wales are the better off - since the less well off gain absolutely nothing from extending free school meals to children whose working parents are perfectly well able to meet the cost themselves.   

In fact the policy benefits people exactly like EIS members, as I can't believe that any of Scotland's teachers currently qualify for free school meals - as things stand.

But if I had a Magic Wand, I would target this £60 million on the less well off and probably not just those with children - since that leaves out a great many people who have never had children or whose kids have grown up.

To my mind, £60 million spent on those most in need, would do far more good than spreading £60 million across the whole population - or in this case just people with children of a certain age.

Now some people say that social benefits should be 'universal' or available to everyone on the same basis - free NHS prescriptions in Scotland are a good example although they are not really free since the cost is met out of general taxation.

Yet this approach does not apply to the cost of housing and I've written before about the £20 billion windfall that mortgage payers have enjoyed in recent times which has not been shared with people who rent their homes or living on a fixed income.    

So why not use the extra money in a more meaningful and imaginative way, for example, by holding down rents in the social housing sector?

Because this particular group within the Scottish population has not benefited from the artificially low interest rates that Scotland's mortgage payers have experienced in the past 5 years - which means that since 2008 mortgage payers have effectively been receiving special treatment as far as their standard of living is concerned.  

A much better and fairer use of £60 million, if you ask me, as such a policy would put a significant amount of money in the pockets of those at the bottom of the income ladder - instead of subsidising members of the teaching profession and EIS (Educational Institute  of Scotland). 

The statistics tell their own tale - Scotland's share of the great £20 billion mortgage windfall is around £2 billion which makes £60 million look like chickenfeed.

So the argument about universality, about everyone being treated the same way, does not stand up to serious scrutiny.