Saturday, 30 April 2016

North Lanarkshire Update

The trade unions in North Lanarkshire have finally broken their silence over the Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review with this statement from Unison (complete with spelling mistake) which was sent to me by a kind reader.


The process of re-evaluating the posts involved in the equal pay litigation is almost complete. There are a small number of outstanding issues that the job evaluation team will be able to conclude in the next few days. The new job overviews will then be passed to the project board which is made up equally of management and trade union representatives. The project board is then responsible for implementing any changes that arise from the new evaluations. UNISON are pushing for the process to be concluded without further delay and we'll update members when we can.

Now anyone can make a silly spelling mistake, but what I find very odd is that the union has nothing to say about senior Home Care managers blatantly interfering in the review exercise, as I reported on the blog recently.

I would have thought this was a perfect opportunity to send a strong message to union members that this kind of meddling is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated, instead of just turning blind eye to what's been going on recently.  

What I did find interesting is that the Project Board is made up of equal numbers of management and trade union representatives since  this means the Council cannot impose its will - the unions have to agree.

If the new job overviews are all completed, then surely they should be published and shared so that the NLC workforce can understand what progress has been made and what issues remain to be decided by the Project Board.

And while I'm on the subject of sharing information, why not publish the names of the various reps on the Project Board?

Surely the workforces entitled to know who is making these big decisions. 

Glasgow City Council Update

A reader from has sent me an email she received from John Mason regarding the ongoing fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council - John is contesting the seat of Glasgow Shettleston in the Scottish Parliament elections which take place next Thursday.

Now I've written to John myself on the subject and I was rather taken aback at his response which I would characterise as being more concerned about the impact on the Council which created this situation the first place, of course.

The fact is that the lowest paid women workers in Glasgow were unfairly treated for years, being paid typically £6.00 an hour while comparable male jobs were earning £9.00 or more for every hour they worked. 

When Action 4 Equality Scotland came along in 2005 and highlighted the huge differences in pay between male and female dominated jobs, the Council (having previously denied any equal pay problem) rapidly rushed out settlement offers which were worth much less (less than half in many cases) of the true value of people's equal pay claims.

So the largely female workforce in the City Council has good reason to be very angry at the behaviour of Glasgow's political leaders and senior officials, and if you ask me, women workers are the victims of the Council's behaviour - they are not the cause of its financial problems.

And that's the message to get across to Glasgow's politicians both before and after next week's Scottish Parliament elections.

Thanks Claire for your latest email.

I would be happy to write to the Council about your case if I am re-elected next Thursday.
In order to do that, I would need your address, job and department in the Council, how much you were paid and how much you lost out.

The wider question of councils not settling equal pay claims is regularly raised in parliament and if I am there again I would be supportive of any attempts to get settlements.

My understanding was that Glasgow did not have money set aside for this.  If they have to borrow more, that would still mean cuts and possible job losses in future so it could become your problem if you or colleagues lost jobs.

Let me know if you want me to take this further if I am re-elected.

Yours sincerely


Glasgow Update (25/03/16)

I wrote the other day about my letter to all Glasgow MSPs regarding the fight for which was sent before the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

I had a quick response from John Mason MSP which I found very disappointing, I have to say, because John's initial response was to raise concerns about how the Council would meet its equal pay obligations rather than looking at things from the point of view of his constituents who have been getting short-changed for many years.

So I replied to John by pointing out that Glasgow City Council has been aware of the position for years, that additional borrowing has been made available by the Scottish Government and that the rights of low paid women to equal pay cannot be set aside because of the Council's mismanagement of its pay arrangements over the years.

Now the SNP leader of the opposition group in Glasgow, Cllr Susan Aitken, had the right attitude if you ask me, so let's hope that all of Glasgow's SNP politicians are singing from the same hymn sheet soon.

Particularly as Humza Yousaf, another SNP MSP in Glasgow, responded by congratulating me for 'continuing this important fight'. 

John Mason MSP

-----Original Message-----
From: Mason J (John), MSP 
To: markirvine 
Sent: Tue, Mar 22, 2016 9:48 am
Subject: RE: Glasgow and Equal Pay

Thanks Mark

Today’s Herald suggested that Glasgow might have to pay out £100 million because of this.  However, I am not sure Glasgow has that kind of money lying around.  Would they have to close schools and leisure centres, reduce waste collection, or sack staff?



-----Original Message-----
From: markirvine
To: John.Mason.msp
Sent: Tue, Mar 22, 2016 9:56 am
Subject: Re: Glasgow and Equal Pay

Dear John

No, because the Council has been aware of this ongoing legal case for several years and have been planning for just such a contingency, as you would expect.

Not only that the Scottish Government has previously offered to increase council 'borrowing consents' to assist Scottish councils meet their obligations in respect of equal pay.

And at the end of the day, the rights of low paid women workers to equal pay cannot be set aside or qualified because of the Council's mismanagement over the years, as I'm sure you would agree.

Kind regards

Mark Irvine

Humza Yousaf MSP

-----Original Message-----
From: Yousaf H (Humza), MSP
To: markirvine
Sent: Tue, Mar 22, 2016 11:58 am
Subject: RE: Glasgow and Equal Pay

Dear Mark,

Many thanks for this very helpful update and well done to you and campaigners for continuing this important fight.

Best wishes,


Humza Yousaf MSP

MSP for Glasgow
Minister for Europe and International Development

I wrote to all Glasgow MSPs with news about the long-awaited Employment Appeal Tribunal decision and its implications for City Council employees.

I've already had a number of responses which I'll share on the blog site in the next day or so.

But even though the current batch of Glasgow MSPs is standing down there is, of course, nothing to stop those seeking re-election from making clear where they stand on this issue.

So if you ask me, the Glasgow candidates should all be put on the spot to explain their views in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections which are due to take place on Thursday 5th May 2016.

The most helpful comment I've seen, so far, came from the SNP leader of the opposition in Glasgow, Cllr Susan Aitken, who told The Herald that the Council should "come clean" about its responsibilities and settle the claims.

Councillor Aitken went on to add:

"The Council should have sought to do the right thing by these women when it emerged that the original claims may not have been adequately settled.
"Instead it may well have opened itself up to increased liability at a time when public finances are already under enormous pressure."

Well said, if you ask me.

Dear MSP

Glasgow and Equal Pay

I circulated all Glasgow MSPs yesterday (Monday) with the latest post from my blog site regarding the long-running fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council.

I am conscious that all existing Glasgow MSPs will be standing down later this week and that many, if not all, of you will be contesting the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections.

If you are standing as a candidate in the Holyrood elections and would like to make your views known regarding the equal pay position in Glasgow, please drop me a note as I am certain that the thousands of Glasgow-based readers of the blog site will be interested in what their candidate MSPs have to say

can contacted at the following email address - - and I am happy to keep candidates in Scottish Parliament elections briefed on further developments in the run up to 5 May 2016.

My blog site can be found at:

Kind regards

Mark Irvine

Glasgow Update (21/03/16)

Great news for the 5,500 Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) clients still fighting for equal pay with Glasgow City Council.

The long running case which went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal has finally released its decision (from a hearing which concluded in May 2015) and the result is a huge victory for the claimants.

In essence the tribunal agreed that Glasgow City Council failed to create a level playing field between its traditional male and female jobs before introducing new pay arrangements in 2007.

As regular readers know, traditional male jobs received significant bonus payments on top their basic pay which were highly discriminatory because these lucrative bonus schemes were not available to female dominated jobs.

So 11 years or 12 years ago, a Glasgow Home Care worker was earning around only £6.00 an hour, whereas a male refuse worker or gardener (on the same or even a lower grade) was being paid significantly more, around £9.00 a hour because of these 'male only' bonus schemes.

Now these big bonuses were negotiated between council management and the trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite), but the size of the pay gap between traditional male and female jobs was kept hidden from the wider workforce - until Action 4 Equality Scotland came along in 2005 and let the cat out of the bag..

The claimants case is that Glasgow City Council had a clear duty to tackle this pay discrimination and create a level playing field between male and female jobs before introducing new pay arrangements in 2007 - and this argument has been upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

In plain language the pay of women's jobs should have increased to the same level as the higher (bonus related) pay of men's jobs, otherwise the Council continued to treat its male workers much more favourably than their female colleagues.

Which is exactly what happened in Glasgow because the City Council protected the higher (bonus related) earnings of its traditional male jobs going forward (from 2007) and this 'more favourable treatment' forms the basis of another equal pay claim for the 5,500 A4ES clients. 

The $64,000 dollar question is whether Glasgow City Council will accept the game is now up and negotiate a settlement to all of the outstanding claims.

Because if not, then the fight for equal pay in Glasgow is bound to be be a big issue in the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2016 and will also run all the way to the next round of Scottish council elections due in May 2017.

So I will be making contact with the leadership of Glasgow City Council in the days ahead to discover whether it is to be a case of 'jaw jaw' or 'war war'.

Get a Grip, Labour!

I listened to Ken Livingstone on the radio earlier today trying desperately to 'defend the indefensible' in terms of his comments about Hitler and Zionism.

As often happens on these occasions, 'attack' seems to be the preferred form of defence and instead of apologising for being such a dick, Ken sought to deflect attention away from his foolish words by blaming the whole business as a storm in a teacup whipped up by MPs who are hostile to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Now that takes a great deal of 'chutzpah' - a brass neck, as people are fond of saying in Glasgow - but I encountered a similarly dumb argument on Twitter the other day with a chap who couldn't tell me whether he thought that Jon Lansman (the Chair of the pro-Corbyn Labour group Momentum) is an arch-Blairite - see Twitter exchange below.

So while Ken and his chums continue to grasp at any passing straw, the biggest irony of all is that Ken Livingstone set out to defend the Labour MP Naz Shah who, by the time ken stirred up this hornet's nest, has already apologised for her offensive anti-Semitic comments.

Seems like the old Labour figures are badly in need of learning some new tricks, as today's cartoon in The Times by Morten Morland illustrates.

As Hugo Rifkind said on Twitter earlier today: "Arguing that Hitler was a Zionist is like arguing that the slave trade was pro-immigration. Get a grip."