Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Year Resolution

My NewYear Resolution for 2017 is to hold Glasgow City Council to account over equal pay - a big challenge to be sure, but one that is perfectly achievable if we can mobilise support from the thousands of Glaswegians with outstanding claims.

Much more to follow in the days ahead, but regular readers can help by spreading the word amongst friends and co-workers. 

In the meantime have a safe and very Happy New Year!


Calling Glasgow

Image result for twitter images

I've said many times on the blog site that the fight for equal pay is not a 'spectator sport'.

And this is another gentle reminder to readers in Glasgow to help build up a network of local campaigners by following me on Twitter  

Because people who follow me on Twitter will automatically receive posts to the blog which they can Share and help spread the word to friends and work colleagues.

Retweeting and sharing posts will also help in getting a strong campaign message across to Glasgow City Council in 2017.

If you ask me, the Council's foot-dragging behaviour has gone on long enough and Glasgow is now the only major council in Scotland not to have reached a settlement over its post-job evaluation pay arrangements.

So if the current leadership is unable or unwilling to face up to its responsibilities over equal pay, then it's time they made way for people who are prepared to end this saga.  


Glasgow and Equal Pay (05/12/16)

I sent the following email to all MSPs and MPs with seats in the Glasgow City Council  area earlier today including Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister.

As I've said on the blog site before Glasgow is now the only major council is Scotland not to have reached a satisfactory agreement over its post-job evaluation pay arrangements.

Neighbouring North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils did so recently and thousands of A4ES clients played a big part in persuading these two councils to come to their senses.

So let's hope that Glasgow's MSPs and MPs get behind their local constituents in the fight for equal pay in 2017.      


Glasgow and Equal Pay

I enclose three recent posts from my blog site regarding the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council.

If there is no sign of a negotiated settlement by the New Year, I suspect that many of the 5,500 A4ES clients in Glasgow will be seeking to make equal pay a major issue in the run-up to the local council elections in May 2017.

Kind regards

Mark Irvine


Calling Glasgow (02/12/16)

The blog site has seen a lot of traffic following yesterday's about Glasgow, but what I  need to do in the weeks ahead is build a network of active supporters who are willing to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Because the more people who Like, Share, Retweet and Follow my posts via Twitter and Facebook the stronger the message will be to Glasgow City Council.

If the current leadership of the Council are not part of the solution, then they are part of the problem if you ask me.

Glasgow is the only council in Scotland which has refused to reached agreement over their post-JE pay arrangements - in Glasgow's case this is known as the WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review). 

So if Glasgow's leaders are not prepared to face up to their obligations on equal pay, they should stand aside and make way for politicians who are prepared to do so.   


Calling Glasgow (01/12/16)Image result for calling + images

Glasgow City Council looks set to become the next big battleground in the long fight for equal pay as we approach the end of 2016.

As readers know, ever since the Employment Appeal Tribunal found in the claimants' favour (back in March) efforts have been made behind the scenes to establish whether GCC is prepared to resolve all the outstanding claims via a negotiated settlement.

In my view, this now looks increasingly unlikely and I suspect that the claimants are all just being 'strung along' in the hope of getting past next year's local council elections (due in May 2017) without too much argy bargy.

So I'm making an early New Year resolution to start the engines of a new A4ES campaign in January 2017, if there are still no signs of serious negotiations getting underway next month.  

The task I'll be setting myself is to make equal pay and Glasgow City Council's foot-dragging behaviour a major issue in the run-up to the May 2017 local elections.

Now I can't do this on my own, but A4ES has over 5,500 in Glasgow and I'll be aiming to stir people into action and create a network of local campaigners who are willing to turn the heat up on the Council in the early months of the New Year. 

Because if the present leadership of Glasgow City Council is not part of the solution, then it's part of the problem if you ask me.

I'll be writing much more on the blog site in the days ahead, but at the moment readers in Glasgow can help by Liking, Sharing and Retweeting this message on Facebook and Twitter.

Always remember that 'many hands make light work'.


Glasgow City Council Update

I said on the blog site recently that the fight for equal pay in Glasgow had gone quiet because the focus of events had shifted to the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The Court of Session (Scotland's highest civil court)) will hear an appeal from Glasgow City Council against the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (reported previously on the blog site) which was favourable to the claimants. 

A4ES has also made a 'cross appeal' to protect the interests of its 5,000 clients in Glasgow which has the potential to bring down the so-called 'Workforce Pay and Benefits Review' - Glasgow City Council's local job evaluation (JE) scheme.

The Court of Session has now listed the Glasgow Appeal for April/May 2017 which is great timing if you ask me, because this means that the case will be heard in the run-up to next year's local council elections.

Now I have said previously on the blog site that a negotiated settlement in Glasgow is in everyone's, but so far at least the City Council seems intent on a 'fight to the death' through the courts.

If you ask me this is a foolish strategy, because the original decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (in favour of the claimants) is sound and will be difficult to overturn at the Court of Session.

So if there is no progress to report by the end of 2016, I think it's fair to say that the City Council can expect fireworks in the New Year.

Because I will make it my business to ensure that equal pay becomes a major issue in the period leading up to the May 2017 council elections.


Glasgow and Equal Pay (20/12/16)

The BBC reports that the Scottish Government is again taking a pro-active role in relation to employers who face allegations of playing 'fast and loose' with their employees.

Amazon is the latest company to be upbraided by a local MSP, in this case the Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, in Fife who raised concerns on behalf of his local constituents in Fife.

Next thing you know the relevant minister (Keith Brown) is getting stuck in by asking sensible questions and making public comment, instead of saying that as an 'independent organisation' Amazon has nothing to do with him or the Scottish Government.

Now this is 'manna from heaven' to equal pay claimants because it's what I've been asking of Scottish politicians for years.

So let's hope this a good omen for a campaign to 'hold Glasgow City Council to account' over equal pay in the New Year.

Minister's Amazon working conditions talks 'productive'

BBC Scotland politics

Image caption - Amazon has been accused of 'intolerable' working conditions at its largest UK distribution centre in Dunfermline

Scotland's economy secretary has held "productive" talks with Amazon after claims of unacceptable working conditions at its Fife depot.

Keith Brown said the firm agreed to "consider" his request to pay a "living wage" of £8.45 an hour.

He said they would have another meeting in two or three months' time.

The minister had previously said he was concerned by reports that staff at the Dunfermline site could be sacked for being off sick.

The Sunday Times claimed that workers could be dismissed for taking four days off, even if they had a sick note from a doctor.

The issue was raised in the Scottish Parliament, with North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie saying he had been contacted by constituents who reported "intolerable" working conditions.

Speaking after his visit to the Dunfermline "fulfilment centre" on Monday, Mr Brown said: "I had a productive meeting with senior members of Amazon's management team this afternoon and I asked them a series of questions around personnel and transport related-issues, which had been the subject of recent media reports.

Image caption - Economy Secretary Keith Brown had a meeting with Amazon managers at the Dunfermline site

"I then made a series of requests of the senior management team including in relation to becoming involved in our Fair Work agenda through the fair work convention, paying the real living wage and trade union activity in the workplace

"They have agreed to consider these requests and to a further meeting in the course of the next two to three months.

"These jobs are important to Scotland's economy - 4,500 at its current peak and 1,800 permanent employees - and so it's crucial that we continue to work with Amazon to help deliver fair work practices."

Amazon said all permanent and temporary Amazon workers started on £7.35 an hour or above, regardless of age, and £11 an hour and above for overtime.

A company spokeswoman said: "Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace with competitive pay and benefits from day one. We are proud to have been able to create several thousand new permanent roles in our UK fulfilment centres over the last five years.

"One of the reasons we've been able to attract so many people to join us is that we offer great jobs and a positive work environment with opportunities for growth."

Glasgow and Equal Pay (17/12/16)

The Scotsman takes the Queensferry Crossing 'low pay' dispute one step further with news that the Scottish Government has become involved via its transport minister Keith Brown.  

Now as I said the other day I only wish Labour MSPs had taken such a keen interest in the fight for equal pay which has been raging in Scottish local government for the past 12 years.

Nonetheless it's good to see Scottish ministers and politicians taking these issues seriously instead standing on the sidelines or pretending it's nothing to to with them.

In the Glasgow equal pay dispute many more workers are involved, 5,500 from Action 4 Equality Scotland alone, so I think we can expect to see some real fireworks from Glasgow's MSPs and MPs in the New Year.

Queensferry Crossing low pay probe moves forward
A view of the gap between the north and south sections of the Queensferry Crossing. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
A view of the gap between the north and south sections of the Queensferry Crossing. Picture: Jane Barlow

Economy Secretary Keith Brown will ask an arbitration service to work with the lead contractor building the Queensferry Crossing, Transport Scotland and a construction union to investigate allegations of low pay on the £1.4 billion project. 

Mr Brown met representatives from construction union UCATT and Labour MSP Neil Findlay at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday. Labour has called for a pay audit of the scheme after UCATT claimed Portuguese sub-contractor Sosia Ltd paid joiners £7.67 an hour and labourers £6.32 an hour - compared with the Construction Joint Industry Council agreement of minimum rates of £11.61 and £8.73 respectively. 

Mr Brown said: “It remains the responsibility of our contractor FCBC to manage matters relating to its workforce and sub-contractors. The Scottish Government will continue to work together with all parties to ensure that all obligations over workers’ rights, health and safety and pay are being met on the Forth Replacement Crossing project.”

Glasgow and Equal Pay (15/12/16)

I was interested in this piece from The Herald newspaper which reports that a Labour MSP (Neil Findlay) has called for an "urgent independent pay audit" on behalf of the workers employed on the new Queensferry Crossing across the River Forth.

Two points struck me as I read The Herald article:

1 Why didn't Labour MSPs show the same enthusiasm for independent pay audits during the long fight for equal pay?

2 If it's so easy for an individual MSP to get a quick and positive response from the Scottish Government , surely MSPs in Glasgow will be queuing up to support the A4ES campaign to hold Glasgow City Council to account over its  post-job evaluation pay arrangements? 

If claimants in Glasgow get behind this campaign (the trade unions are welcome to join in as well), I am confident we can make equal pay and the City Council's pay arrangements a big issue in the run-unto the local council elections in May 2017.


MSP calls for Queensferry Crossing probe as workers' pay and safety questioned

Jane Barlow/PA Wire

By Brian Donnelly - The Herald

AN MSP has called for an investigation into claims workers on the Queensferry Cressing have been paid below industry rates and are working amid health and safety breaches.

Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay has called for an "urgent independent pay audit of the workers engaged on the project", raising concerns about a Portugese sub-contractor and also pay rates for tradesmen it is claimed are £4 an hour below industry minimum.

He is to meet with Scottish Economy Secretary Keith Brown along with officials from construction union UCATT on Thursday and a Scottish Government spokesman said the audit would be one of the issues discussed at the meeting.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Trump's America

Lots of Donald Trump's supporters are successful, intelligent and often people, but a significant number are lumpen 'hillbillies' like this chap who believes that Barack Obama played a big part in the 9/11 terror attacks on America in 2001.  

Now that was fully seven years before Barack Obama won his first presidential election in 2008, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story, as the saying goes.

But that's the state of American politics these days where ugly lies and fake 'news' stories are all 'grist to the mill' of Trump's right wing supporters who have taken over the Republican Party.


Ape in Heels (14/12/116)

Image result for bad role model + images

Donald Trump is seldom away from Twitter as everyone knows (to coin a favourite phrase), but I've yet to hear him call out one of his own supporters who described Michelle Obama, as an 'ape in heels'.

Now there is no doubt that these words from a public official amount to ugly, unacceptable and racist language - from one of his own "Make America Great Again' supporters.

So you would think that the President-elect would have no hesitation in condemning such vile behaviour in the strongest possible terms.

But while Donald rails against Saturday Night Live (a satirical programme) for poking fun at his (often bizarre) behaviour, he's as quite as a church mouse when it comes to denouncing this racial abuse of America's First Lady.

West Virginia official who called Michelle Obama ‘ape in heels’ returns to work

Pamela Ramsey Taylor says 'it will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House'

By Shehab Khan - The Independent
Michelle Obama - AP

The director of a non-profit organisation in West Virginia will return to work after being suspended for referring to Michelle Obama as an “ape”.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, a director at Clay County Development Corporation, West Virginia, posted the comment on Facebook and was suspended from her role at the Development Corporation.

She is now set to return to her job later this month, according to a letter seen by Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Ms Taylor initially took to Facebook in support of Donald Trump’s victory in the US election. 

Trump Supporters (16/11/16)

The Washington Post reports on the ugly behaviour of two public officials in West Virginian who mocked Michelle Obama, America's First Lady, as "a Ape in heels." 

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, a director of Clay County development corporation posted the following comment on Facebook after Donald Trump's election as president, ushering in Michelle Obama's replacement as First Lady by Melania Trump:

"It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House", before adding:

"I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels."

The local mayor Beverly Whaling is then reported as replying with the words:

"Just made my day Pam." 

"What the fuck's wrong with these people?" is the question any reasonable person is bound to ask and, of course, Team Trump bears some responsibility given the hateful tone of the recent election campaign.  

Read the full story in via the link below to The Washington Post, but as usual having been caught red-handed the two individuals involved deny their behaviour was racist.

Image result for ape in heels + images


Dragged Through a Hedge (15/11/16)

Gerald Herbert/AP

In a sign of things to come, perhaps, Donald Trump announced the other day that his chief strategist as the new President of the United States (POTUS) will be a chap called Stephen Bannon - who looks a bit like Robert Redford, albeit after a very hard night out before being dragged through a hedge backwards. 

Apparently Stephen Bannon is more in tune with the Mr Hyde side of Donald Trump's character and, as head of the controversial right-wing Breitbart news website, Mr Bannon was responsible for headlines which featured:  

A story about President Obama and 'birtherism' - headed-up with a picture Harambe the gorilla which is often used as a racial slur against African Americans (

"Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement's Human Shield" - an ugly take on the attempted murder of a Democratic Senator from Arizona

"There's No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews" - unsolicited career advice from an ignorant misogynist

"Birth Control Makes Women Crazy and Unattractive" - says some lonely loser who's no 'oil painting' himself 

"The Solution to Online Harassment Is Simple: Women Should Just Log Off" - sad internet trolls wanting to have their cake and eat it

"Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew." - an everyday tale of anti-Semitism in America 

So we'll see what happens in the days ahead, but given his track record at Breitbart the chances are that Stephen Bannon will continue to use the same ugly tactics that propelled Donald Trump to victory during the presidential election campaign.


Stand Up, Speak Out (15/10/16)

Michelle Obama is not a politician, but America's First Lady spoke with great passion in this speech in which she addressed Donald Trump's ugly locker-room 'banter' and allegations that he is a serial sexual predator.

“I can’t believe that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core more than I ever could have predicted.” 

Michelle Obama went on to disparage Trump without once saying his name and to urge those in the audience to do everything they can to elect Hillary Clinton. Read some of her best quotes below:

On Donald Trump’s behaviour:

“This is not how adults behave, this is not how decent human beings behave, and it’s certainly not how someone who wants to be president of the United States behaves,” she continued. “This wasn’t just locker-room talk. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior, and actually joking about kissing and groping women.”

On her own reaction to the accusations:

“Last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. I can’t believe I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. I have to tell you that I — I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”

On the phrase “locker-room talk”:

“Strong men, those who are role models, know that they don’t have to tear women down to lift themselves up. To dismiss this as locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.”

On Trump’s fitness for office:

“If we have a president who routinely degrades women — who brags about sexually assaulting women — then how can we maintain our moral authority in the world? How can we continue to be a beacon of justice and human dignity?”

On women’s power to influence the election:

“We simply cannot endure this or expose our children to this any longer,” she said. “Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.”
“Imagine waking up on November 9, and imagine how you’ll feel if you stayed home or if you didn’t do everything possible to elect Hillary. We cannot let that happen. We need to recover from our shock and depression and do what women have always done in this country. We need to roll up our sleeves — we need to get to work.”

Well said, if you ask me.


Good Joke

Bench plaque

I can see why the city's officials would want the sign removed, but it's still a great joke and I take my hat off to the pranksters who put this plaque on a public bench within sight of Edinburgh Castle. 

Serves the old duffers of Muirfield right for their golf club to be ridiculed in such a way.


Golf club ban plaque removed from Edinburgh bench

BBC Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

A rogue plaque fitted to an Edinburgh bench excluding members of a golf club from sitting on it has been removed by the council.

The sign on the Princes Street bench said it was fitted on behalf of the "female population of Edinburgh".

Muirfield Golf Club in Gullane in East Lothian, decided against allowing women to become members last summer.

The vote returned just short of the two-thirds majority needed to change its constitution.

A City of Edinburgh Council spokeswoman said: "This is a presentation seat that was donated to the city and has an existing dedication.

"The plaque in question has been placed without permission and therefore has now been removed."

A Muirfield Golf Club spokesman declined to comment.

Sexist Plonkers (30/06/13)

Scotland's First Minister - Alex Salmond - deserves credit for telling the 'stuffed shirts' at Muirfield golf club that they can stick their invitation to this year's Open Championship - where the sun don't shine.

Now, of course, the First Minister used more polite language that I've just employed to convey his message, but his point is still plain for all to see - exclusive 'all male' golf clubs in this day and age are ridiculous and a terrible embarrassment to Scotland.

I don't know who decides where the Open Golf Championship will be held  every year, but whoever it is - they should grow up and decide that, in future, they will boycott any golf clubs that deny membership to women players.

Now that would include the home of golf course - the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews - which has a long standing tradition of offering honorary membership to the principal of St Andrews University.

Yet that tradition was abruptly halted a few years ago when a new woman principal  took over the reins at the university - in the shape of Dr Louise Richardson.

What a sad bunch of sexist plonkers - what does this say about their outlook on life, moral values and relationships with women?

I'm not a golfer and never have been, but I know for sure that I wouldn't want to be a member of an 'all male' club - no matter how exclusive - because it is simply unacceptable that women can be treated as second class citizens.

Russian Pranksters (16/11/16)

I'm not normally a fan of street graffiti, but there are always exceptions to this general rule, as in the case of the Duke of Wellington status in Glasgow which famously has a red traffic cone placed on its head on a regular basis.  

So I take my hat off to the Russian pranksters who turned a red Soviet-era star on top of a block of flats into Patrick Starfish, a character from Spongebob Squarepants.

The Russian authorities have threatened those responsible with a heavy fine and/or a prison sentence, but I would be inclined to ask those living in the property what they think of the new addition to their building.

Because even the work of the street artist 'Banksy' took some time to catch on and is now worth a small fortune, in some cases.


Council Killjoys (13/11/13)

Glasgow City Council has backed away from a proposal to raise the statue of the Duke of Wellington - a famous landmark which stands outside GOMA, the Gallery of Modern Art.

The statue is famous not so much for who it is, but the fact that the Duke of Wellington regularly has a traffic cone placed on his head - sometimes his horse endures this indignity as well - normally by young men who have imbibed too much alcohol for their own good.

Apparently some overpaid official at the 'toon council' decided that this behaviour amounted to vandalism - and to thwart those responsible came up with a cunning plan to raise the plinth by a few feet so that anyone wishing to place another traffic cone on the Duke's (or the horse's head) would have their work cut out - drunk or sober.

Now the council said this work would cost £65,000 but that Glasgow taxpayers would save £10,000 a year, so the operation would allegedly have paid for itself after 7 years because the would not have to keep removing the traffic cones which some council official calculated as 100 removal operations a year at £100 a time - or £10,000.

I don't know about anyone else, but all I can say that this seems like a bogus figure to me and if the council is so worried about cost - why not just leave the traffic cones up   there and let the city's revellers change them if they feel the need - at absolutely no public expense.

The laugh is that this harmless piece of fun has helped put Glasgow on the map and the Duke, replete with his traffic cones, have become something of a tourist attraction - even appearing on postcards and other memorabilia, so what's not to like.   

Dumb Britain (04/12/14)

The following entries to the Private Eye's 'Dumb Britain' column had me in stitches, especially the one about the Duke of Wellington who has a very special place in the heart of all Glaswegians. 


Fifteen to One, C4

Sandi Toksvig: Born in 1769, what was the name of the first Duke of Wellington?

Contestant: Napoleon Bonaparte.

Pressure Pad, BBC1

John Barrowman: Which British prime minister had the first names Anthony Charles Lynton?

Contestant: David Cameron.

The Chase, ITV

Bradley Walsh: The Nun's Priest's Tale is a story by which 14th century English author?

Contestant: JK Rowling.

Walsh: The title of which Shakespeare play means "everything turns out OK"?

Rugby star: Macbeth