Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Glasgow - Won't Get Fooled Again!



Here's a very topical and well argued Facebook comment from one of the thousands of equal pay claimants across Glasgow.

For understandable reasons there's lots of talk about industrial action and for the first time, I think this is likely to happen because of the provocative way the Council is behaving.

If there is a strike in Glasgow, this will be the first time in a Scottish council that there has been industrial action over the fight for equal pay.

But there's lots to be done before industrial action in Glasgow can become a reality and lots more campaigning to do to get our message across to Glasgow Councillors, MSPs and MPs  - including the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, of course the MSP for Glasgow Southside.

I will be sharing information about how people can support the campaign for Equal Pay Justice in Glasgow in the days ahead, but in the meantime share this post and C's comments - the deserve to be read far and wide. 

Well, no surprise there then.

Personally, I always believed the lack of progress at the majority of the meetings was indicative that they weren’t remotely interested in “doing what was right “

So, like the last time (for those OLD enough to remember) we will likely be offered a settlement “Just in time for The Christmas wage “ and like last time there will be men and women struggling at Christmas and sorely tempted by their offer ..many men and women were tempted and subsequently buckled last time too and many of us (myself included ) held out for Stefan Cross to fight for a better settlement than what was offered.

The difference between then and now is we are educated on this fight ..with Stefan's Blogs, with this group of Frances and all the other channels of communication which have all been invaluable.

This time we have the knowledge we didn’t have last time, we have the strength In our growing numbers and we have a ferocious determination NOT to have the piss ripped (yet again)

We need to ALL (all of us ) crank this up now, get to the meetings, start mailing as many councillors as possible and do whatever we can to get rid of these council officers who are DETERMINED not to relent,and who are absolutely determined NOT to do the right thing by us DESPITE three judges ruling in OUR favour.

We have to push to get rid of those officials responsible for stalling BIG TIME, so as well as fighting /striking for what we are due , we need to fight to get them WELL out of the equation.


It’s as if they seem to be taking it personally that we won in court and are still in a huff about it ! It’s like they are attempting to bully us into what THEY want ...

We are all standing together now, together against them, all of us.

It’s crap news BUT on the bright side :- we are all united in this fight ,the carers , the office staff who are part of this fight too , and everyone else involved who’s been wrongly treated for all these years ,we need to stay united when the strikes come (and i suspect they will now !)

We need to be strong when the council offers come and even stronger when they tell us the same story as they did last time (when others caved )...
“fighting for a full settlement will cost you and your colleagues your job”

Unity is strength and we have the strength Ladies (and Gentlemen).


Let’s step up our game now and stand together to fight this battle



C


 


When Is a negotiation not a negotiation? (13/08/18)



Q. When is a negotiation not a negotiation?

A. When one of the parties involved (i.e. Glasgow City Council) goes back on its word and arrogantly tries to impose its will on everyone else. 

Now I was a professional negotiator for many years, latterly as Head of Local Government for Unison (Scotland), and I think the following words fairly describe what a proper 'negotiation' is all about: 

"A give and take bargaining process between two or more parties (each with their own aims and objectives) which sets out to find common ground and reach  agreement - to settle a dispute or other matters of mutual concern."


In other words it takes two (sometimes more) to tango and only months ago Glasgow City Council was keen to tell the world that a 'new dawn had broken' and that under new leadership Scotland's largest council would finally bring the country's longest running equal pay dispute to an end - by negotiation.

Sadly this has proved not to be the case because last Tuesday (7th August), senior council officials abruptly announced there was no point in having further settlement meetings and that they would be working on their own proposals which would be 'presented' to the Claimants Side (A4ES, GMB and Unison) in November 2018. 

So after all the talk about the need for a step-by-step, detailed and agreed process Glasgow City Council tears up its own 'rule book' and decides it will draw up its own solution to Equal Pay - just as the Council did previously with its WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review) which the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, judged to be 'unfit for purpose' in August 2017. 

Why does this matter so much?

Because the Council is trying to decide unilaterally which male comparators to use in putting forward offers of compensation to thousands of equal pay claimants across Glasgow, but behind closed doors and without the agreement of the Claimants' representatives - A4ES, GMB and Unison


Up until now I would have said that senior council officials are responsible for these 'wrecking ball' tactics because this is effectively the same group of officials who have been defending the WPBR for years and urged the City Council to appeal the Court of Session's landmark 'unfit for purpose' judgment to the UK Supreme Court in London.


In the following comments for The Herald newspaper the Council leader, Susan Aitken, insists:


“I’ve always been clear that I don’t believe the council has been paying men and women equally for the work they do. We need to compensate women for years of underpaying them, and we need a new pay and grading system that rewards everyone fairly."


But if there is no agreement on the 'pay gap' between male and female jobs which has been operating under the WPBR (for 12 years and counting) - there can obviously be no agreement on how to compensate claimants, fairly at least, for all the years they have been cheated and robbed of what they were due by the WPBR pay scheme which is underpinned by blatantly discriminatory practices including its cockamamy 37 hour 'rule'.


So while Susan Aitken talks about 'good faith' the reality is that the SNP led administration is behaving no differently to the Labour run Council in 2005 which set out to bully thousands of low paid Glasgow claimants into accepting scandalously low offers of settlement of their equal pay claims. 


  

The Herald - 8 August 2018


Council leader Susan Aitken insisted the council remains "100 per cent committed to delivering justice" for equal pay claimants who have been waiting for over a decade for this long-running issue to end. 

She said the council will seek to have a settlement figure agreed with claimants’ representatives by the end of 2018.

“No-one from either side has ever been under any illusion this process would be quick and easy, and the entrenchment of the competing positions over a decade cannot be undone overnight," she said.

“Nonetheless significant progress, backed by the democratic process of the council, has been made. This progress includes, ending the legal challenge, putting the political oversight which had been lacking, in place, holding fortnightly formal negotiating meetings; bringing Cordia, where most of the affected staff are employed, back into the council and harmonising their terms and conditions; and a decision taken to replace the councils entire pay and grading structure.

“Furthermore, the process of sourcing how the council will fund the final settlement is now underway."

Glasgow City Council said at the start of the year that "negotiation not litigation" would solve the dispute having agreed not to appeal against a court decision last year over the grading system and said it would discuss a settlement with the unions.

The dispute centres on the way some jobs were graded several years ago.

It meant workers such as cleaners and care assistants may have been earning less than men in jobs deemed to be of equal value.



Campaigners won a legal case in August when it was ruled that a pay re-grading scheme may have been less favourable for women workers.

The Court of Session refused the council's bid to appeal this judgement.

READ MORE: Glasgow City Council accused of perpetuating equal-pay discrimination

Ms Aitken added: “I’ve always been clear that I don’t believe the council has been paying men and women equally for the work they do. We need to compensate women for years of underpaying them, and we need a new pay and grading system that rewards everyone fairly.

“I know the claimants’ representatives are frustrated by the difficulties this process regularly throws up.

“But I remain committed, and will continue to ensure the good faith which has facilitated the massive strides we have collectively made continues and that this long-running and complex matter is resolved as quickly as possible to the year-long timetable all parties agreed to at the beginning of the year."



Glasgow - Equal Pay Update (08/08/2017)



I sent a copy of the my blog posts on the sham equal pay settlement negotiations to all Glasgow Councillors, MSPs and MPs - along with the following message.

Dear Glasgow Councillor

Glasgow Equal Pay Update

Glasgow's equal pay claimants have been cheated and robbed for years by the Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay scheme.

Yet senior officials announced on Wednesday that the Council has abandoned any pretence at a negotiated settlement and that they will now decide how claimants will be compensated. 

Asking for trouble, if you ask me - and the officials making these bold statements are the same ones who got the council into this mess in the first place.

Kind regards



Mark Irvine 

So be shy about telling the city's elected representatives what you think because Glasgow's claimants were promised a fair deal and a 'negotiated' settlement with their representatives.

Yet now the City Council is planning to draw up its own proposals, unilaterally, without seeking agreement on crucial issues such as which male comparators to use. 

  

Glasgow's Second Class Citizens (09/08/18)



Lots of readers have been in touch to express their outrage at the latest news from Glasgow City Council over equal pay and I don't blame them, I have to say.

Because after all the fine words about a negotiated settlement council officials are trying to lay down the law about what will happen next without any agreement on the major issues that are still in dispute.

For example, which higher earning male comparator jobs are to be used to determine a fair level of financial compensation for the equal pay claimants being cheated and robbed (for 12 years and counting) by the City Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR. 

So here's a letter from a regular Glasgow reader which sums up how lots of people are feeling and, for the first time, I think industrial action over equal pay in Scotland's largest council is not just possible - but is fast becoming highly likely.

Hi Mark 

I am disgusted but not surprised by the latest developments. I think the council are under the assumption that because we care about our clients we won’t go on strike. 


I think it’s time we showed them that their assumptions are wrong. We work hard sometimes under enormous pressure. They may not realise it but their loved ones and loads of others are cared for with love compassion and dignity so that our clients can continue to live in their own homes. 

I for one look after my clients the way I would want my own loved ones cared for and am sick of being treated like a second class citizen 

E


Now the SNP led council did not introduce the WPBR, but they are continuing with the same laid back 'hands off' approach as the previous Labour led administration which means that senior council officials are still running the show - with or without the consent of the council's political leadership.  

So without genuine negotiations taking place there is not a snowball's chance in hell of a satisfactory agreement being reached before the end of 2018 - and it's time for Glasgow's politicians to speak out and explain where they stand.

  

Glasgow - Sham Settlement Negotiations (09/08/18)



Stefan Cross has posted a report on the latest settlement meeting with Glasgow City Council which echoes this previous post to the blog site on 17 May 2018.

If you ask me, the underlying problem is that the same group of senior officials who made such a mess of equal pay over the years are still running the show - the same group of senior officials who:

  • commissioned and approved the WPBR in 2007
  • singed off on the blatantly discriminatory 37 hour 'rule'
  • defended the council's 'unfit for purpose' pay arrangements for years
  • advised the council to 'seek leave to appeal' the Court of Session judgment 
  • urged the council to appeal to the UK Supreme Court after losing for the second time at the Court of Session Scotland's highest civil court 
The truth is that these senior officials have failed to protect the interests of the council's lowest paid workers over equal pay for years and because of their miserable track record - they are part of the problem not part of the solution.

And this has been true from Day 1 which is why they are resisting my FOI requests which are designed to get to the truth of how senior council officials behaved when the WPBR was introduced back in 2007.


As regular readers know, the council's chief executive (Annemarie O'Donnell) insists that her officer team acted in good faith over the WPBR - which I say is a load of old baloney!


The solution is to put the facts on the table and let the people - including Glasgow's 100 local Councillors, MSPs and MPs - decide for themselves.


 


Glasgow - Sham Settlement Negotiations (17/05/18)

 

Stefan Cross posted an update on Facebook yesterday evening with his immediate reaction to Glasgow City Council's 'response' to details settlement proposals put forward by the Claimants representatives (A4ES, GMB and Unison).

The key part of Stefan's update is that the Council have, apparently:

"...agreed to nothing. Not a single issue. Nor have they proposed anything in response." 

Now I was Unison's Head of Local Government and chief negotiator in Scotland for years and I can honestly say that if the Council has not responded to the Claimants with a detailed counter-proposal, then these settlement negotiations are a complete sham.

Which is perhaps not surprising because the same set of senior officials who advised the Council to defend the WPBR all the way to the Court of Session and lost - unanimously - are the same set of senior officials who are now advising the Council on its approach to settlement negotiations.

Shameful.

And if you ask me, the reality is that the Council's corporate management do not accept the 'unfit for purpose' judgment of Scotland's highest civil court and are fighting a desperate rearguard action to prevent the truth emerging about their role over the WPBR - and whether of not senior officials acted in 'good faith', as they claim.

But perhaps the most shocking point to emerge is that there hasn't been a single meeting between the Council's political leaders and the Claimants' representatives. 

So the political leadership of the Council are relying solely on the advice of senior officials, who are completely discredited in many people's eyes, instead of hearing directly from the Claimants and their representatives.

I'll reserve my final judgment until next week's joint meeting with the Council on 22 May, but up until now I think it's fair to say the whole process has been a terrible sham.

 


NOT LOOKING GOOD 

Apologies as I’ve jumped the gun a bit here.

We’ve had a written response from the council but the claimant group does not get to discuss it until tomorrow and we don’t get to discuss it with the council until next week.

The council has stressed that everything in their response is confidential so I cannot disclose any details.

But on the face of it they’ve agreed to nothing. Not a single issue. Nor have they proposed anything in response.

If this has political approval then we’re looking at 3-5 years of more litigation, at least.

But I’m the ultimate pessimist. I may have misunderstood the council’s intention. Silence, or lack of objection, might be good. They might be holding back until our meeting.

Apologies again, [especially my colleagues) I probably should have waited until tomorrow at least.

Hopefully, the council will provide some assurance next week.

But there certainly isn’t any obvious good news in their response


Stefan Cross

BEING LED DOWN THE GARDEN PATH

So yesterday we had meeting 17 with the council since the beginning of December last year. And what a car crash it was. As I have mentioned several times before the council has called these “negotiations” but we’ve negotiated nothing, just discussed process hopefully leading to negotiations. Even that now looks increasingly unlikely

1. BROKEN PROMISE AFTER BROKEN PROMISE
Before we took the summer break at the end of June the council had promised to carry out certain tasks but had failed to meet their agreed deadlines. The most important of these was a pleaded defence to our NSWP claim. We didn’t get that on time and what was provided on the last day before their solicitor went on holiday was inadequate. This has still not been provided and the council has refused to provide anything more. They agreed to provide a revised timetable and milestones by 20th July. Not done. And now they tell us they are not going to do what they promised at all.

2. THROWN THE PROCESS IN THE BIN
When we started this exercise with them all the talk was of “collaborative working”. Even as recently as June it was agreed that we would set up a legal working group to seek to discuss the legal disputes/arguments and try and reach a common position or narrow down those issues that needed to go to tribunal. Now its true that backroom activities, like data cleansing and the JES group, have continued but the main negotiation group has ground to a halt and the legal sub group has been abandoned. The council now tell us that they will agree to NOTHING. They want to hear our views for them to absorb but they will give us nothing in return. So, for example, we have presented lists of compromise comparators but they have simply not responded. There have been no counter proposals nor any attempt to seek middle ground. The whole process has been thrown in the bin. Instead the council are going to “concentrate resources” on data cleansing (which doesn’t involve any of the officers in the main negotiating group) and they are simply going to present us with a number in November. Then they will “negotiate”. This is a joke.

3. GET READY FOR A CRAP OFFER BEFORE XMAS
Everything the council told us yesterday was geared to meeting the promise of an offer, any offer, before Xmas. It’s a charade. There is no realistic prospect of us being able to agree anything in that timescale or at all. In the meantime the council is undertaking an exercise to try an pick holes in every single application form to try and reduce their liability. At the same time they have re engaged John Bowers QC to give them advice. All of our experience is that he wants to fight and will not recommend a reasonable settlement. This is legal cover for the officers not to settle for a reasonable amount. The council have abandoned any attempt to agree what your true entitlement is but are now looking to see what is the bare minimum they can get away with. Another broken promise.

4. NOW ITS DOWN TO THE LEADER TO SORT THIS OUT
We have no faith that the officers can or will deliver. We have therefore formally triggered the dispute mechanism and sought a meeting with the council leader, hopefully on 21st.

5. BACK TO TRIBUNAL
As we said before, it was agreed in June that we would have the backstop or insurance policy of going back to tribunal on those matters that could not be agreed. Now that the council has abandoned any attempt at agreement EVERYTHING is going back to tribunal. This will be essentially split into two groups – those that that have a protection claim, and everything else. The council has agreed to swap lists of issues by 11th September and then there is a full day hearing before the tribunal on 25th September. We would hope the council will be ordered to set out all remaining defences and hearings will be listed for remedies for those former manual workers with protection claims. Former non manual workers may have to go through an incredibly long formal equal value process if, as we suspect, the council is fighting everything again.

We have achieved much in the last year – but none of it through negotiations or meetings with the officers. The team that lost the previous tribunal proceedings is the same team now fighting us all over again. Its going to be a long hard road ahead but we are united and strong. Far more united than them and far stronger.

We remain committed to negotiations. It’s sad the council isn’t.


Stefan Cross

Stefan Gives Council Bosses 'Short Shrift'



Stefan Cross gives senior officials and advisers at Glasgow City Council short shrift with this facebook post on the council's equal pay liabilities. 

Their good financial management included only budgeting for a payout of £35m. 


The cost to the council is probably 20x that. 
The same folk who advised that their liability was only £35m are the same ones advising on their current liability.


How these folk think they can reach a “negotiated settlement” by December beggars belief.

Stefan Cross




Won't Get Fooled Again! (15/03/18)



Readers in Glasgow have been posting their thoughts on Facebook about the way in which women workers were kept in the dark over their right to 'equal pay for work of equal value' back in 2007 - then duped into accepting poor offers of settlement worth a maximum of just £9,000.  

Doin a clean out of old papers yesterday and came across all stuff regarding payout from last time.Can't believe how gullible I was accepting. Makes for sad reading

R

I know,tell me about it - totally conned

M




PS.I do clean more than every 12 years.These were in a box with old photos lol

R


Ya maddy we were skipping along wellshot 3rd thinking it was brill lol x

S


I refused first offer had to wait nearly 2 years but it was worth it just conned people

J


 


Won't Get Fooled Again! (07/02/18)



The latest news from the Glasgow equal pay negotiations is not good.

As a matter of fact it's downright discouraging because senior officials in the council seem to be more interested in defending their past behaviour and controversial decisions than they are in delivering a just outcome to this long-running dispute.  

Take the WPBR which, as everyone knows, was judged to be 'unfit for purpose' by no less an authority than the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court.

Yet instead of agreeing to replace this completely discredited scheme council officials are in no hurry to ditch the WPBR with all its cockamamy 'rules' and discriminatory payments such as the £1,000 a year NSWP payment some employees receive, but only those who have an employment contract for 37 hours a week or more.

In essence having created a Frankenstein's Monster council bosses now seem to be saying that the workforce should to learn to love the WPBR by turning a blind eye to its invented 'rules' and bizarre practices which treat Glasgow's women workers like second class citizens. 


Image result for frankenstein's monster + images

To add insult to injury, council officials are talking about imposing their preferred solutions to outstanding issues on a 'take it to leave it' basis which is completely unacceptable to all the claimant organisations.

Because if senior officials get away with a 'take it or leave it' approach at this early stage, they will obviously do the same when it comes to any final settlement and so the claimants would not receive anything like the sums they are due in compensation for being cheated out of their right to equal pay for the past 10 years.

As you would expect, this ridiculous 'not up for negotiation' approach was rejected out of hand by the claimants' representatives, as a divide and rule tactic.

So the scene is set for a major confrontation - the officials now running the council have been in senior positions for the past 20 years (more on that to follow) and they clearly have considerable responsibility for the position that Glasgow City Council finds itself in today.

On the big issues, council officials seem to think that they know better than the three senior judges at the Court of Session who decided unanimously that Glasgow's WPBR is a 'joke' - because judges don't use words like 'unfit for purpose' lightly.

The same three judges went on to decide, again unanimously, that the city council had no grounds on which to appeal their decision to the UK Supreme Court and you would think this would encourage a degree of humility, rather than arrogance, on the part of officials whose awful advice got Glasgow into such a god-awful mess in the first place. 

One thing's for sure, the approach being taken by council officials is completely at odds with the recent public statements made by the Council Leader, Susan Aitken.


.Image result for resign + images

  

Is this a wreath I see before me?


Jeremy Corbyn's torrid summer continues as the Labour leader loses the plot, so to speak, of his wreath laying antics during a visit to Tunisia in 2014.

First of all Jeremy's office denied his involvement in the wreath laying debacle by claiming he was not present at the time, but the camera doesn't lie.

So Corbyn changed his story to say that he was not honouring the terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972.

  


Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Glasgow - Weasel Words, Double Standards and Equal Pay



Glasgow City Council claims to be nothing less than a 'world leader' when it comes to openness and transparency which I find laughable after the lengths the Council has gone to - to try and 'cover up' details of an outrageous 'golden goodbye' payment to a senior official in 2016/17.

Here is my latest FOI Review Request to GCC's Carole Forrest, but essentially the Council is tying itself in knots with a convoluted, manufactured and bogus argument that a £120,079 payment to its outgoing finance director, Lynn Brown, did not constitute a 'gift' and was 'routine' rather than highly irregular. 

So take your time and read the appalling mis-mash of weasel-words, disinformation and deception for yourselves although here are a few pointers to help readers see the 'wood through the trees'.
  1. The departing finance director (Lynn Brown) had no 'entitlement' to the £120,079 boost to her already substantial pension pot.
  2. The departing finance director applied to leave her employment early and normal practice is that voluntary 'early retirees' receive a reduction in their pension benefits.
  3. The council's chief executive (Annemarie O'Donnell) approved the early retirement application, but the council says there is no record or audit trail to explain AOD's decision.  
  4. The finance director was Annemarie O'Donnell's arguably closest rival for the Glasgow chief executive's post and was actually interviewed for the position.
  5. The council claims that Lynn Brown's application for early retirement was pre-aaproved by the previous council chief executive, George Black, even though George left the council's employment in December 2014.
  6. The council has no record of George Black's alleged pre-approval from November 2014.
  7. The council refuses to answer FOI requests about the role-played by senior officials during the introduction of the WPBR on the grounds that this would cost GCC more than £600 to provide this information.
  8. Yet GCC's top official spent £120,079 of public money on boosting the pension pot of a senior colleague and rival for the Glasgow CEO job.
As well as her responsibility for handling FOI Review Requests, Carole Forrest is, of course, Glasgow's Director of Governance which means she is charged with upholding standards, good practice and the Council's Vital Records Policy.

  


06 August 2018
Carole Forrest
Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council
Glasgow City Council



Dear Ms Forrest

FOISA Review Request

I refer to the letter from Glasgow City Council dated 27 June 2018, a copy of which is attached for easy reference. I would like to submit a formal FOI Review Request over the Council's initial response for the following reasons.

1) The Council's defence of its position is completely absurd because the only person to benefit from the decision to pay £120,079 into the Strathclyde Pension Fund (SPF) was the outgoing finance director, Lynn Brown.

2) Furthermore the purpose of this payment was to prevent the finance director from having to accept a reduction in her pension benefits, as a result of retiring early so it is perfectly accurate to describe this payment as a 'gift' albeit one that was supported with public rather than private funds.

3) What the Council has refused to explain, so far at least, is what justified this extraordinarily generous treatment of one senior official by another, particularly as the chief executive's decision appears not to have been reported to and approved by a relevant council committee.

4) So I am not asking for the chief executive's opinion - instead I am asking the Council to explain the authority on which the chief executive (Annemarie O'Donnell) chose to spend £120,079 of public money on boosting a fellow senior official's pension pot, particularly as this use of funds was not reported to a council committee and appears to have been done without the knowledge and approval of the council's political leadership, at the time.    

5) I have read the Council's 'Scheme of Delegation' provided in response to my original FOI Request, but I cannot see any part of that document which allows the chief executive to make such a spending decision, without political support and approval from a council committee.

6) If the Council persists in arguing that the payment of £120,079 was not effectively a parting 'gift' to the outgoing finance director, I would ask the Council to explain the before and after impact this payment had on Lynn Brown's pension benefits - always remembering that pension payments represent 'deferred salary' and, in my view, are covered by FOISA disclosure rules.   

7) I also repeat my request for the Council to provide documentary evidence in support of the claim that the previous chief executive, George Black, approved Lynn Brown's early retirement application before he left office in December 2014. Not only because, in my view, he had no power to make such a decision, but also because I am sure George Black would have viewed Lynn Brown as a potential successor to himself as the Council's chief executive. In fact, I understand that Lynn Brown applied for and was interviewed for the CEO's job, in the wake of George Black's retirement from the post. 

I look forward to your response and would be grateful if you could reply to me by email at: markirvine@compuserve.com

Finally, on a personal note, as a Glasgow citizen and council taxpayer, can I say how strongly I disapprove of the behaviour of senior officials who have gone out of their way to look after the interests of a colleague while being so mean-spirited towards the City's lowest paid workers in relation to equal pay and the Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR.   

Kind regards




Mark Irvine


-----Original Message-----
From: FOI_CCT <FOI_CCT@glasgow.gov.uk>
To: markirvine <markirvine@compuserve.com>
Sent: Fri, Jul 27, 2018 7:59 am
Subject: Request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 No 6678690

Dear Mr Irvine
Thank you for your request received on 24th July 2018 requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Please find attached your response.
Yours sincerely
Information & Data Protection Team
Chief Executive’s Department




Mr Mark Irvine


Dear Mr Irvine

Request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Thank you for your correspondence dated 24 July 2018 requesting that the following information be provided to you:

“1) Please explain the basis on which council's the chief executive, Annemarie  O'Donnell, justified her decision to spend £120,079 of public money to boost the  pension package a senior colleague, given that an employee retiring early would  normally expect a reduction in their pension benefits?

2)  Please provide me with the documentation detailing Lynn Brown's early retirement  application in 2014 and George Black's subsequent approval of this application,  along with George Black's justification for meeting the cost (£174,716.85) of  allowing Ms Brown to retire early without accepting a reduction in her pension  entitlement.

3)   Please provide me with a copy of the Scheme of Delegation under which the chief  executive, Annemarie O'Donnell approved the £120,079 boost to Lynn Brown's  pension package and the subsequent payment of these monies to the Strathclyde  Pension Fund (SPF).”

The Council is treating these requests as requests under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (“the Act”).

We would respond to each of your questions as follows:
1) The Council does not consider this to be a valid Freedom of Information request.  The Act entitles applicants to recorded information that the Council holds, subject to certain exemptions.  The legislation does not entitle you to request opinions or views of the Council or its officers.  As indicated in our correspondence to you of 24 July 2018, George Black, former Chief Executive authorised Mrs Brown’s retirement.  As we have also advised you, the £120,079.21 represented a strain on the pension fund; it was not a “gift” to Mrs Brown.  This strain cost to the pension fund was more than offset by the savings as outlined on the release application form.

2) The information contained within the documents that we hold in relation to this request was provided to you in the Council’s email of 24 July 2018.  As you have already been provided with all relevant information that we hold on this matter, your request is refused as a repeat request in terms of section 14(2) of the Act.

3) The information which you have requested is, in our opinion, exempt from a request under section 1 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 because of the exemption contained in section 25(1) of the Act.  In other words, the information you are looking for is “reasonably accessible” to you without having to make a formal section 1 request.  Specifically, the Council’s current Scheme of Delegated Functions can be obtained here: http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=6762.

The Scheme of Delegated Functions that was in force at the time Ms O’Donnell signed Mrs Brown’s form on 1st September 2016 was approved by the Council on 17th May 2012. Please see: http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/agenda.asp?meetingid=11457 

There were some amendments to the Scheme approved by the Council between May 2012 and September 2016, but none of these affected the relevant delegation in this case, which you will see is Number 5 in the list of delegations to the Chief Executive.  

The Council accordingly feels that it has complied in full with your request.

Right of Review 

If you are dissatisfied with the way Glasgow City Council has dealt with your request you are entitled to require the Council to review its decision.  Please note that for a review to take place you must:
  • Lodge a written requirement for a review within 40 working days of the date of this letter
  • Include a correspondence address and a description of the original request and the reason why you are dissatisfied
  • Address your request to the Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council:
Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council
Glasgow City Council
City Chambers
George Square
Glasgow G2 1DU

You will receive notice of the results of the review within 20 working days of receipt of your request.  The notice will state the decision reached by the reviewing officer as well as details of how to appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner if you are still dissatisfied with the Council’s response.  You must request an internal review by the Council before a complaint can be directed to the Scottish Information Commissioner.  For your information at this stage, an appeal can be made to the Scottish Information Commissioner by contacting her office as follows if you do remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the Council’s review decision -  

Address:  Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, KY16 9DS. 
Telephone:  01334 464610

You can also use the Scottish Information Commissioner’s online appeal service to make an application for a decision: www.itspublicknowledge.info/appeal 

Please note that you cannot make an appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner until you have first requested an internal review by the Council.

If you wish to submit a complaint to the Council in relation to the manner in which it has handled your request for information then you can do by requesting that the Council review its response.  Details of how to request a review are set out in the above paragraph “Right of Review”.

Yours sincerely



Information and Data Protection Team
Chief Executive’s Department

Glasgow's Golden Goodbyes (09/08/18)



I haven't heard from Sandra White during the long fight for equal pay, but according to The Herald the MSP for Glasgow Kelvin has her knickers in a real twist over a 'golden goodbye' payment to a senior health board official in Tayside.

Much closer to home Glasgow City Council made an even larger payment (£120,079) to boost the pension benefits of one of its departing senior officials - for which there was no contractual entitlement. 

So far at least Glasgow's MSPs have not been raising their voices in protest at this even more cavalier use of public money though let's see what happens in the days ahead.

More on this story to follow soon - so watch this space.

 


http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16406384.msp-jenny-marra-says-90k-payment-to-former-tayside-boss-lesley-mclay-inappropriate/


MSP Jenny Marra says £90k payment to former Tayside boss Lesley McLay 'inappropriate'



Helen McArdle @HMcardleHT - The Herald


Lesley McLay

AN MSP said NHS Tayside must explain why they handed "such a huge severance payment" to disgraced former chief executive Lesley McLay, amid reports she received a package worth £90,000.

Read more: NHS Tayside reject claim disgraced boss paid £300,000 severance package

Labour MSP Jenny Marra sparked a row earlier this week when she claimed she had been told that Ms McLay was paid a "golden goodbye" worth more than £300,000 when she stepped down from the organisation on July 31.

The health board hit back, branding Ms Marra's claims "categorically untrue".



Although it did not dispute that Ms McLay had received a severance package upon her departure, NHS Tayside chiefs insisted that she had been awarded only what she was contractually entitled to and nothing more.

Now, amid fresh reports that Ms McLay walked away with £90,000, including pension contributions, Ms Marra said the sum was "inappropriate".

Read more: Former Tayside boss Lesley McLay signed off sick day after being stripped of chief executive title

NHS Tayside has declined to comment on the £90,000 claim.

Ms Marra, who chairs the Scottish Parliament's Public Audit committee, said: “I am sure most people will agree that such a huge severance payment is inappropriate in this case.

SNP politicians should explain to their constituents why they think it is acceptable for a health board that has been chronically underfunded by their own government to reward failure."

Ms Marra's comments come after John Brown, chairman of NHS Tayside, wrote to her on Tuesday in her capacity as convener of the Public Audit committee with details of Ms McLay's pay-off.

Ms Marra added: “If NHS Tayside had been honest about the extent of this pay off in the first place, the board could have gone some way to starting to rebuild trust with patients and staff.

"Instead, it has now been forced to release this information that should have been made public in the first place.

“I look forward to seeing Audit Scotland’s opinion on this payment when they publish their latest emergency report in September on the financial mess at NHS Tayside.”

Read more: NHS Tayside axed own rules to use charity cash for general spending

Ms McLay was signed off sick in April, the day after being stripped of her chief executive title in the wake of revelations in the Herald that the health board had used £3.6 million of charity cash for routine spending.

Read more: Health Secretary Shona Robison blasts financial culture at NHS Tayside as 'in a league of its own'

Earlier, SNP MSP Sandra White demanded Ms Marra retract her “smears” against NHS Tayside in relation to the £300,000 pay-off claim.

Ms White, who sits on Holyrood’s Health committee, said: “We are used to this sort of thing from Labour, as they continually seek to mislead when it comes to the NHS in Scotland.

"But Ms Marra’s claims aren’t just wrong and misleading, they are wildly off the mark – and it appears to be a deliberate attempt to undermine our health service.

"People have legal entitlements and the NHS simply cannot refuse to make those payments, but as Tayside has said throughout there has been no 'pay-off' or golden goodbye as Ms Marra claimed.

"Jenny Mara must now apologise and publicly retract her baseless claims – as well as setting out on what basis she made them."

Glasgow's Double Standards (21/07/18)



Senior officials in Glasgow City Council claim to have acted in 'good faith' over the introduction of the WPBR and its blatantly discriminatory 37-hour rule.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary they insist their cockamamy pay scheme was a genuine effort to eliminate gender-based pay discrimination, yet at the same time  they refuse to answer FOI requests which would explain how senior officials conducted themselves, i.e. what they signed up to at the time the WPBR was introduced. 

The reason given for refusing my FOI requests is that this would cost the council more than £600 to provide this information - yet the council's chief executive had no qualms about authorising a £120,079 'gift' to a senior colleague so that she could access her pension early.

What does Stefan Cross QC think of this contemptible behaviour? - read on and find out.

  

ONE RULE FOR THEM, ANOTHER FOR US
Mark Irvine's dogged digging of this dodgy deal has exposed a number of things about GCC OFFICERS 


1. These are exactly the same officers failing to properly negotiate your entitlement 
2. The don’t half love secrecy
3 The dole out taxpayers cash very easily when it’s for one of their own
4 They demand external verification of any money to be paid to you but avoid any external scrutiny of payments to themselves 
Hypocrisy is the word that springs to mind.

STEFAN CROSS