Showing posts from February, 2010

Don't Take 'No' For An Answer

Lots of readers from North Lanarkshire have been in touch - to say that they've been hard at work - lobbying their MPs, MSPs and local councillors over equal pay. Good - because that's exactly what's needed - and you'd be surprised what a big difference a few determined people can make in each local area. The key thing is - don't take 'No' for an answer - and don't be fobbed off with excuses. Politicians have views about everything - from the weather to the price of mince. So don't let them patronise you with tales of how equal pay is so complex or difficult - that they can't get involved. Oh yes they can - that's why they're paid handsome salaries compared to most council workers. Too many politicians have been silent for too long - now it's time for MPs and MSPs in North Lanarkshire to stand up and be counted. The question is: "Which side are they on?"

Monthly Pay

A reader from South Lanarkshire has been in touch - not over equal pay for a change - but about the plans to introduce monthly pay for all council employees. At the moment many council employees are paid on a fortnightly basis - and regard the proposed move to monthly pay with suspicion and hostility. From their standpoint, monthly pay will cause financial hardship - at a time when things are already difficult for many people. Low-paid workers are always hardest-hit when employers move towards monthly pay - because they're used to living on a tighter budget - and different timescales. Apparently, there has been little information - about exactly what will happen and when. Speculation is rife that the new arrangements will be introduced in April 2010 - at the start of the new financial year. According to our reader, council employees are worried about having to finance the pay gap - i.e. the two weeks between fortnightly and monthly pay. The council is apparently offeri

Standing Up For Local People

A number of North Lanarkshire readers have been in touch over the 'lukewarm' response they've received from Frank Roy, MP - having contacted Frank about equal pay. Well here's an example of Frank Roy rolling up his sleeves and getting stuck into the Remploy campaign - on behalf of his local constituents. The article is from the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) - and it's exactly the kind of campaigning spirit that's needed to knock some sense into North Lanarkshire Council. So, let's hope Frank Roy and other politicians listen to the arguments - put party politics to one side - and start calling a spade a spade in North Lanarkshire - when it comes to equal pay. REMPLOY CAMPAIGN NATIONAL LAUNCH Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 Remploy Disabled Workers’ National Mobile Demonstration To Labour Party Conference In Bournemouth Launched Today In Demonstration will rally at all 43 factories scheduled for closure and will mobilise support for Re

Debating the Issues

A number of readers in North Lanarkshire have been in touch - about debating the issue of equal pay with their MPs, MSPs or local councillors. Well there's a wealth of information already on the blog site - and we'll put up more in the days and weeks ahead. But based on the feedback received so far - here's some key points that people might find useful. 1 The great majority of claimants in North Lanarkshire - are represented by Action 4 Equality Scotland 2 The unions lost all credibility in North Lanarskhire by encouraging members to accept poor offers of settlement in 2006 3 Both the unions and the council kept women workers in the dark about equal pay - years after singing the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement 4 But the unions knew what was going on of course - because they negotiated the bonus schemes which were paid only to traditional male groups - such as refuse workers and gardeners 5 For years groups of women - such as home carers - were wor

Daylight Is The Best Disinfectant

Last night's BBC drama about MPs' expenses and former Speaker Michael Martin - should give great encouragement to all readers in South Lanarkshire. Not only was it an accurate and entertaining portrayal of the political establishment trying to defend the indefensible - it showed that right can triumph over might - in the end. So, South Lanarkshire Council's desperate attempts to prevent people from finding out the truth about pay levels - for different groups of male and female employees - will end in failure. No doubt South Lanarkshire will try to delay and frustrate the process - as did Speaker Martin and many of his fellow MPs - but they can't turn back the tide. Daylight really is the best disinfectant.

MPs, MSPs and Trappist Monks

Some MPs in North Lanarkshire are still telling their constituents that they cannot get involved in the debate over equal pay. Apparently, the MPs concerned say it's a legal matter - so it's not appropriate for them to comment - or to stick their oar in on the constituent's behalf. But this is a load of old tripe - or complete baloney to use a technical term. MPs and MSPs are always getting stuck into disputes - legal and otherwise - what about the Royal Mail dispute or the ongoing row in British Airways? Later today, Scotland. Deputy First Minister - Nicola Sturgeon - will explain to the Scottish Parliament why she intervened in a case before the courts involving one of her constituents. And the Prime Minister - Gordon Brown, no less - has apparently done the same on behalf of one of his local constituents in Fife. So, MPs and MSPs - in North Lanarkshire and elsewhere - do not need to take a vow of silence over equal pay. It may not be convenient for them to

More Kind Words

More kind words from another regular reader - about their equal pay claim. "Dear Sir, Thank you for your continued efforts in ensuring that we women receive a fair deal with regards to equal pay. Without your best efforts we would never have heard anything as the Councils and Trade Unions etc kept stum. Our politicians have been worse than useless on this matter - while lining their pockets from the tax payer. MB" Not all politicians have had their noses in the trough - of course. But it' s true to say that not enough of them have spoken out on equal pay. Let's hope that more and more politicians put party politics to one side - and start to stand up for their local constituents.

What A Joke!

A reader from North Lanarkshire has been in touch to say: "Hi Mark Forgot to mention in my previous e-mail I got a letter from Unison today to see if I wanted them to make a claim for equal pay against my employers - North Lanarkshire Council. What a joke - as our claim has already been in with Action 4 Equality Scotland for the past five years. Thanks WA" Quite - the trade unions kept their members in the dark about equal pay for years - and this union leopard hasn't changed its spots. So, if any readers receive similar unsolicited letters - from Unison or anyone else - give them short shrift.

Getting Your Message Across

A number of readers in North Lanarkshire have already approached their local MPs - to ask for their support over equal pay. So far, MPs seem to be sitting on the fence - trying their best not to get involved. But an MPs job is to weigh up the issue - make an informed decision - and then speak up on behalf of their local constituents - without fear or favour. What may be influencing Labour MPs in North Lanarkshire - is that the council is Labour-controlled as well - and has been for many years. Understandably, Labour MPs' are reluctant to criticise their Labour council colleagues - but this cannot be taken to extremes- sometimes party loyalties have to be set aside. Can anyone imagine Labour MPs being reluctant to take a stand - and speak their minds - if North Lanarkshire Council was run by the SNP, Lib Dems or Tories? Labour MPs (and MSPs) may not want to criticise the behaviour of their local Labour council - but they should not allow party allegiance to prevent them standi

North Lanarkshire - Constituency MSPs

MSPs in North Lanarkshire - as well as MPs - have been contacted by Action 4 Equality Scotland - over the council's foot-dragging behaviour on equal pay. Most of the MPs' responded quickly - perhaps because there's a general election on the horizon. But the constituency MSPs - all Labour MSPs, by the way - and with close links to Labour controlled North Lanarkshire Council - have all been strangely silent. Yet, they'll all be out there on polling day - MPs and MSPs together - asking for your votes and support for the Labour Party. So, why not ask them what they're doing to help their constituents on equal pay? Here are the names and contact details for the North Lanarkshire constituency MSPs: Cathie Craigie MSP - Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Constitue ncy Tel: 01236 825372 E-mail: Jack McConnell MSP - Motherwell and Wishaw Constituency Tel: 01698 303040 E-mail: Michael McMahon

A Weapon of Democracy

Today's editorial in the Sunday Herald is well worth a read - below is a summary of what the paper has to say about Freedom of Information (FOI) in Scotland. The legislation has its flaws and - if anything - needs strengthened. But there's no doubt FOI has helped to balance relations between ordinary people and powerful organisations - that would dearly love to keep us all in the dark. "A weapon of democracy that must be defended Any analysis of the first 10 years of devolution would inevitably focus on the policies that have directly impacted on people’s lives: free personal care for the elderly was a popular, if controversial move; abolishing up-front tuition fees had cross-party support; and the smoking ban attracted international headlines for Scotland. However, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, passed in 2002, has been one of the most liberating pieces of legislation for the ordinary Scot. Far from being a busybody’s charter, as some feared, it has all

'A Future Fair For All'

The Labour Party has finally revealed the slogan - 'A Future Fair For All' - under which it will fight the forthcoming general election. Readers in North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire councils - both Labour controlled for years - now have the perfect opportunity to ask the party's MPs, MSPs and local councillors: "What does this actually mean - when it comes to equal pay?" . Because both councils have - for many years - presided over pay arrangements that treated traditional male groups more favourably than their female colleagues. Carers, catering workers, cleaners and classroom assistants - have certainly not been treated fairly - compared to refuse workers and gardeners. So, as the election campaign hots up - take every chance that comes along - to put the parties and their candidates on the spot.


Regular readers may have been following the unfolding row at SPT (Strathclyde Passenger Transport) - where three top officials have resigned over foreign junkets and mileage claims. The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act has been instrumental in shining a light - onto the best kept secrets of this transport quango. At first SPT refused to release the information requested - but ultimately the details came out into the open - as they always do. One of the main casualties was a councillor from South Lanarkshire Council - Davie MacLachlan. South Lanarkshire is, of course, desperately trying to keep secret - the details of how different groups of male and female council workers are paid - even though this information is freely available in other Scottish councils. But just as FOI has allowed people to see what was going on inside SPT - the same forces will unlock the truth of what's been happening inside South Lanarkshire Council - when it comes to Single Status and Equal Pay. Here

North Lanarkshire

Hot on the heels of the post about how to lobby MPs and MSPs - comes a timely e-mail from one of our readers in North Lanarkshire. The reader's e-mail to Frank Roy MP gets top marks for being direct and to the point - here's the issue, what do you think of it and what are you going to do to help me - as one of your constituents? The only rules are - be polite and ask sensible questions - your MP or MSP is there to advise and help. "Dear Frank, Equal Pay Claim for Home Support Workers GN here home support worker with North Lanarkshire Council. As you are probably aware we have been pursuing an equal pay claim against North Lanarkshire Council for the past five years - yes five years! What is your view on this? Are you as my MP doing anything to bring an end to this ridiculous amount of time and money the council is using to try and block our legitimate claim? I look forward to hearing from you in the not too distant future. Yours sincerely GN"

Lobbying MPs and MSPs

A number of readers have been in touch to ask how to lobby their MP, MSP or local councillor - see post dated 15 February 2010. Well it's quite simple really - there are lots of practical things people can do. 1 Send your MP/MSP an e-mail 2 Ask them where they stand on equal pay 3 Ask them what they think of the council's delaying tactics 4 Ask them if they support the Scottish Parliament's call for councils to address outstanding cases 5 Ask them what they are doing to knock sense into councils that are dragging their feet All of North Lanarkshire's MPs are Labour MPs - the council is a Labour-run council - MPs are not normally shy about speaking out in public - so why not on this issue? 1 Ask your MP/MSP/local councillor for a meeting 2 Go along with some of your co-workers - a small group can support each other 3 Ask your MP/MSP/local councillor to write a letter of support to the Council Leader 4 Ask for a copy of the letter - along with a copy of

First Class Travel

Parliament has announced plans to stop paying for MPs to travel first-class - but apparently this has caused fury amongst some honourable members. But why should public money be used to treat MPs better than everyone else? - this is a reform that's welcome and long overdue. Let's hope the new arrangements extend to the House of Lords - and to other forms of travel as well. Because flying people around the world on business class - and putting them up in fancy hotels - is another Spanish practice that must end - particularly with the economy in such a mess. As some who travels by train regularly - I can vouch for the fact that it is perfectly possible to work and deal with papers and documents - in standard or economy class.

Fox Cross Solicitors Limited

Action 4 Equality Scotland has a opened new office in Edinburgh - see previous post dated 2 February 2010. Another new development is that Action 4 Equality Scotland claimants will - in future - be represented by Fox Cross Solicitors Limited - also based in Edinburgh. Fox Cross Solicitors Limited is a new legal firm - regulated by the Law Society of Scotland - and will build on the expertise and track record of Stefan Cross Solicitors Limited in Newcastle. The new arrangements will not make a fundamental difference to the way people's claims are handled - but there are obvious advantages of being wholly based in Scotland. For example, dealing with day-to-day enquiries - from Edinburgh rather than Newcastle - should provide a more effective service as the new arrangements begin to bed down. The first point of contact - for both existing and new claimants - is Action 4 Equality Scotland (0131 652 7366) - resources are in now place to deal with people's enquiries - wheth

Calling North Lanarkshire

The local press in North Lanarkshire are showing interest in the campaign to persuade North Lanarkshire Council to come to its senses over over equal pay. A journalist has been in touch to ask if he can speak to a few claimants - and the paper has a particular interest in the Wishaw area. The newspaper will not publish people's names or personal details - to avoid any repercussions from the council - but the paper is interested in the background to these claims, for example: 1 The jobs that claimants do within the council 2 How claimants first learned about the huge pay gap - between traditional male and female jobs 3 What claimants think about North Lanarkshire Council dragging its feet - when so many others councils have reached settlements So, if you're happy to speak to the newspaper on that basis - send you contact details to Mark Irvine at:


A mailing is going out today to all former Globespan employees who contacted Action 4 Equality Scotland over the past few weeks. The mail-shot will contain an information pack - about how to pursue a claim for compensation to the Employment Tribunals. A key point is that there is an important deadline involved. Former Globespan employees have only three months from the date of their dismissal (termination) to register a claim - any claim submitted after that deadline will be deemed to be 'out of time'. So - for safety's sake - all claims should be submitted by no later than 15 March 2010. If you need any further advice at this stage - ring Action 4 Equality Scotland on 0131 652 7366

More Kind Words

More kind words have been received from one of our many readers in Glasgow - it's gratifying to know that we have made such a big difference to some people's lives. "Hi, I just wanted to thank your organisation for acting in my best interests - and the greater good of working class, low-income workers throughout the United Kingdom. Trade unions and local government are guilty of neglecting the social justice principles which are meant to influence a decent society. By Action 4 Equality Scotland ensuring this outcome for me I can now move on from the great sense of injustice I felt. Very best wishes to your employees and organisation in the future. Thank you for believing in my rights to be treated fairly in my employment." Yours for equality SS"

MPs - Profiting at Public Expense

The Times reports today that the new MPs' expenses watchdog (IPSA) has finally bared its teeth. Apparently MPs who have profited through the discredited 'second homes allowances' - are to be required to repay at least some of the profits - and quite right too. The worst offenders acted like property speculators - by acquiring ever more expensive properties, moving up the property ladder at public expense - often while avoiding capital gains tax. Here's a summary of what the Times has to say - read the full article online at: "MPs could be forced to pay back profits on second homes" "Sir Ian Kennedy said that he was replacing a system of expenses that enabled MPs to indulge MPs face bills running into tens of thousands of pounds after a challenge issued last night by the man brought in to clean up the expenses system. Profits made by MPs on second homes bought with the help of the taxpayer should be “surrendered”, S

North Lanarkshire MPs - Contact Details

As promised - here are the contact details for the Members of Parliament (MPs) covering the North Lanarkshire Council area. All four are longstanding Labour MPs - so they should have a good understanding of the issues involved - in fact Rosemary McKenna is a former President of COSLA, the umbrella body for the Scottish council employers. Action 4 Equality Scotland has already written to these MPs about the outstanding equal pay claims in North Lanarkshire - and the forthcoming GMF hearing in April 2010. The more people who contact their local MPs - to ask what they're doing to support constituents over equal pay - the sooner we will find a sensible way forward. In view of the impending general election - MPs are likely to be more sensitive than normal to what their local constituents have to say - so take this opportunity to make your voice heard. If you need any help or advice on how to get your message across - ring Action 4 Equality Scotland on 0131 652 7366 or contact Mark

Cutting the Cost of Politics

The costs of keeping our parliamentarians has rightly focused on the House of Commons up until now - but the expenses regime in the House of Lords is just as big a racket. Here's an extract of an interesting article by Janice Turner from The Times newspaper. It's good to see journalists exposing cant and hypocrisy amongst the great and good - though it would be better still if the government stepped in - and took firm action to end this scandalous abuse of public money. Read the full article on-line at: - "Just a better class of stink in the Upper House" "The next chortle was the ruling on overnight allowances claimed by nine peers. Even after aeons of duck-house and dog-biscuit-based hilarity, our sides are not too sore to relish the rule whereby peers can claim as their main residence a house that does not belong to them or even their family. A rented holiday cottage will do; one peer claimed a manager’s flat at a hotel he

Calling Glasgow

Action 4 Equality Scotland has been unable to contact various individuals from Glasgow - to discuss the terms of important letters that have been received from Glasgow City Council. Unfortunately, the individuals concerned appear to have moved - but without notifying Action 4 Equality Scotland of any forwarding address. So, in a last-ditch attempt to make contact - we are putting people's names on the blog site - because there is an important deadline involved. If any of our readers are in touch with the following individuals - please ask them to ring the Action 4 Equality Scotland office - as soon as possible - on 0131 652 7366. A to F Catherine Anderson Evelyn Beaton Christina Brown Patricia Burns Elizabeth Burns Mary Campbell Joyce Mary Campbell June Anne Coyle Sandra Craig Rhonda Cunningham Theresa Dalziel Elizabeth Devine Stuart Doran Margaret Duffy Laura Duffy Elizabeth Evans Evelyn Falconer Pauline Farrell Claire Ferguson Elaine Fern Jacqueline Forbes Georgina Freel

Labour and the Unions

In the ongoing row over MPs' expenses - the trade unions continue to be mentioned in dispatches - with three former Unison officials featuring prominently in recent media reports. Livingston MP and former Unison regional officer Jim Devine is being accused of dishonestly claiming £3,240 and £5,505 in expenses - and is one of three Labour MPs who will soon face criminal charges. Jim Devine has already been barred by Labour bosses from standing again for the party - but denies vigorously that he has done anything wrong. Meantime the three MPs who will face criminal charges are to be prevented from claiming their 'golden goodbye' redundancy payments until the matter is resolved John Lyons - another former Unison regional officer - has been told to repay almost £19,000 by Sir Thomas Legg who looked into the MP's claims going back to 2004. Sir Thomas recommended that John Lyons - former Labour MP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden - repay £18,780.80 in mortgage interest payme

A Victory for Openness

The courts yesterday struck another blow - in the battle for Freedom of Information. The Court of Appeal forced the release of records that government ministers wanted to keep under wraps - arguing that publishing the information would be a breach of national security. But common sense and justice prevailed in the end - and now people can make up their own minds about the issue - on the basis of all the facts. South Lanarkshire Council has the same mindset when it comes to equal pay. The council wants to keep the spotlight off their DIY handy work on Single Status - the council wants to prevent its own workforce from knowing how different groups of workers are paid - and why some traditional male jobs fare so much better than others - particularly the jobs done by women. But what's sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander - if the government of the day can be held to account over freedom of information - so too can a mid-sized council in central Scotland.

Edinburgh City Council

Edinburgh City Council is still refusing to settle outstanding equal pay claims - for significant groups of staff. The groups include male workers in predominantly female jobs (such as male carers and catering workers) - and also former APT&C groups such as social care workers and cook supervisors. Edinburgh's attitude is mind bogglingly stupid - because many other councils reached settlements for these groups long ago. But for some reason Edinburgh still has its head stuck in the sand - and believes (wrongly, we say) that there is something worth arguing about - in respect of these claims. Edinburgh tried previously to prevent former APT&C employees from being treated the same way as their former manual colleagues. But after a major ten-day hearing at the Employment Tribunals - Edinburgh City Council lost this case by a country mile - which described the council at the time as 'trying to defend the indefensible'. Unfortunately, the council appealed this

Kind Words

One of the many male janitors represented by Action 4 Equality Scotland has been kind enough to drop us a note - following settlement of his equal pay claim. Dear Mark I have just received my cheque and I would like to thank the Action 4 Equality Scotland team for all the work they have done for all of us in the past years. I am now a retired janitor and the extra monies will come in very handy for me and my family. Please keep up the great work - without you we would have received nothing. Thanks again. HE (Retired Janitor) Kind words indeed - but bang on the money as well - because without Action 4 Equality Scotland - none of this would ever have happened.

North Lanarkshire Council

North Lanarkshire Council has still to respond to our letter on Equal Pay and the forthcoming GMF hearing - see post dated 5 February 2010. So, to encourage a healthy debate on this issue - the letter has now been sent to local MPs and MSPs in the North Lanarkshire area. Because MPs and local party activists will soon be out campaigning for people's votes - in a general election that is only weeks away. The election campaign will coincide with the run up to North Lanarkshire's GMF hearing in April 2010. So this is an ideal opportunity for local people to invite the politicians to come off the fence on equal pay - in support of their local constituents. Just where do the MPs and MSPs stand on equal pay - what do they think about the council's delaying tactics - and what are they doing to support their constituents? Over the next few days we will publish contact details for local MPs and MSPs. The more people who join the campaign for North Lanarkshire's politici

North Ayrshire Council

Just a quick note to our readers in North Ayrshire - there has been a slight administrative delay in getting all the letters out to people as indicated previously - but this should be completed by the end of the week (i.e. Friday 12 February).

North Lanarkshire Council

Here's a copy of a letter to the Leader of North Lanarkshire Council - Councillor Jim McCabe. Action 4 Equality Scotland will be encouraging clients in North Lanarkshire to lobby their MPs, MSPs and local councillors - in the run up to the vital GMF hearing in April. More and more councils are entering into settlement negotiations - our aim is to persuade North Lanarkshire to do the same - more details will follow. Action 4 Equality Scotland 44 York Place Edinburgh EH1 3HU 22 January 2010 Councillor Jim McCabe Leader of North Lanarkshire Council By e-mail Dear Councillor McCabe North Lanarkshire Council and Equal Pay As you may know, Action 4 Equality Scotland is currently pursuing 1808 equal pay claims, in the Employment Tribunals, against North Lanarkshire Council. The majority of these cases are known as RAE (rated as equivalent) claims because the jobs involved have already been rated or valued under a common job evaluation scheme; in this case the one contained in

MPs' Expenses - Payback Time

More than half of the MPs in the House of Commons (390) have been held to account for submitting inflated expenses claims - an astonishing figure. One that confirms just what a racket the system had become - a licence for many MPs to line their pockets at public expense. The scandal has only come to light because of dogged use of the Freedom of Information Act - along with newspapers finally flushing out the truth - notably The Telegraph. Here's a brief summary of a report in today's paper ( ) . "MPs' expenses: 350 ordered to pay back £1m on their claims" "More than 350 MPs have been ordered to repay over £1 million following an inquiry into their expense claims over the past five years by Sir Thomas Legg. Sir Thomas, the head of the inquiry, will on Thursday criticise MPs for establishing a “culture of deference” to develop which allowed abuse of the system to flourish. He will detail his findings in a report which wil

Globespan Campaign

Action 4 Equality Scotland has been been inundated with enquiries from former Globespan employees - following the recent posts on the blog site. We are about to send out further information to everyone who has been in touch - this will explain things in more detail - and take the campaign forward to the next stage. If readers know of any former Globespan employees that wants to be involved - ask them to get in touch. All we need is the following information - as this will allow us to put people on an Action 4 Equality Scotland mailing and e-mailing list. 1 Name 2 Address and post code 3 E-mail address 4 Contact phone number 5 Job title and former place of work The information can be phoned in to the Action 4 Equality Scotland offfice on 0131 652 7366 or e-mailed to Mark Irvine at:

A Big Thank You!

One of our regular male readers has been in touch - to say a few kind words. "A big 'thank you' to Action 4 Equality Scotland for all your help with my equal pay claim. I'm over the moon at the outcome and can't thank you enough. We were told by our trade union at the time not to take up an equal pay claim and to have nothing to do with Action 4 Equality Scotland. But I'm really glad I ignored their advice because it's the best thing I've ever done. Good luck and best wishes for the future." Self-praise is no praise, as they say - but the honest thoughts of a satisfied client - make it all worthwhile.

Action 4 Equality Scotland

Action 4 Equality Scotland has opened a major new office in Edinburgh - our friends and readers will be delighted to hear. The office contact details are as follows: Action 4 Equality Scotland 44 York Place Edinburgh EH1 3HU Phone Number 0131 652 7366 Fax Number 0131 652 7369 Over recent weeks, Action 4 Equality Scotland has been recruiting staff, installing new equipment and so on – but finally all the pieces of the jigsaw are in place. The Edinburgh office is now fully operational and becomes - with immediate effect - the new point of contact for all existing clients in Scotland – and for new ones as well. The office will provide a platform for Action 4 Equality to grow and expand the services we've provided to thousands of public service workers in Scotland - over the past five years. Action 4 Equality Scotland arrived on the scene in August 2005 - and has made a huge difference to many people's lives – by forcing equal pay back up to the top of the agenda. For the

An End To Secrecy

Labour party leaders at Holyrood are calling for an 'end to secrecy' - over the Scottish government's capital spending programme. Refreshingly, Labour (in opposition) are demanding that things are brought out into the open - so that the public can judge for themselves what the government is planning and doing - in their name. South Lanarkshire Council is, of course, a Labour-led council - and has been for many years. Yet, South Lanarkshire's fondness for secrecy seems to know no bounds - people can't even find out what groups of gardeners or refuse workers get paid - compared to carers, classroom assistants and catering workers. So, why the big difference between the Labour party's attitude in Edinburgh - compared to South Lanarkshire? Who knows - but we'll be doing our level best to find the answer.

MPs' Expenses - Who Guards the Guards?

The Independent newspaper is the latest to join the fray over MPs' expenses. The Independent on Sunday reported yesterday that the government appointed chair of IPSA - the new MPs' expenses watchdog - is no stranger himself to running up large and controversial claims. Here's a brief summary of the piece by Brian Brady - the full article can be read online at: "Taxi! MPs' expenses watchdog took taxpayers for a £16,000 ride" "Sir Ian Kennedy earned £170,000 a year, but that wasn't enough. He needed a cab to get to and from work. The man put in charge of policing MPs' expenses took hundreds of door-to-door taxi journeys between home and work when he was boss of a health watchdog – and left taxpayers to pick up the bill. Sir Ian Kennedy claimed almost £16,000 on private-hire vehicles to transport him around London during less than five years as the £170,000-a-year chairman of the Healthcare Commission (HC), unpubli

Calling Glasgow

Scores of Action 4 Equality Scotland clients in Glasgow - have still to respond to important letters that have been sent out in recent weeks. Maybe the people concerned have moved address - since first registering their contact details - but whatever the reason it's crucial that they respond as quickly as possible. Because any delay could be very costly - and that would be a great shame - especially after all the hard work that's been done to move things forward in Glasgow. So, if you know any friends or work colleagues in this position - ask them to contact the Action 4 Equality Scotland office to sort things out - urgently. The new office number for Action 4 Equality Scotland is - 0131 652 7366.

Fife Council - Stop Press

Settlement discussions on the outstanding equal pay claims have been underway with Fife Council - for the past few weeks. Enough progress has been made to agree to a postponement of the GMF hearing dates - that were originally scheduled for 1 to 5 February and 8 to 12 February 2010 (i.e. this week and next). Some important issues still need to be nailed down - so the GMF dates previously agreed for March 2010 remain in place - until a final agreement is reached. Further news will be reported on the blog site - so watch this space.