Thursday, 21 September 2017

Coming Clean in Glasgow



Lots of readers have raised the issue of equal pay the new Leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr Susan Aitken, and have asked me what I think of the response they've received which is reproduced below for easy reference. 

Well it's fine as far as it goes, but the real problem is that it doesn't go very far at all.

Because the response doesn't deal with, or explain how the Council plans to tackle the main issues involved in this long running dispute.

So while the commitment to resolving all the outstanding claims is welcome, as is the recognition that victims of discriminatory pay policies should receive what is due to them, we are still no further forward in terms of the Council explaining how various male groups of workers were 'looked after' under the WPBR and EDC pay scheme.

Senior officials of the Council seem to be saying that they can't answer this question, perhaps because they don't have the resources of lack the resolve to dig deep into Glasgow's pay records.

Which is why I've suggested bringing in the public spending watchdog, Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission to give this task a real sense of urgency.

And while there are complex issues to resolve there has not been a single, high-level meeting between the real decision makers at the City Council and Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) which represents over 80% of all the Glasgow claimants.

In short, serious preliminary discussions never mind actual negotiations have still to get off the ground and that is not a complex issue - all it requires is to bring the key players from the City Council and A4ES together to discuss the way forward.  


Dear

Thank you for your correspondence enquiring as to the latest position regarding equal pay.

The outcome of recent cases before the Court of Session has not altered our commitment to resolving all equal pay claims and ensuring all those women who were victims of discriminatory pay policies receive what is due to them.

I share your frustration that for the past decade successive Glasgow City Council administrations have failed to resolve these issues. As I stated last week any remaining legal proceedings will only be for the purposes of providing clarity and not to delay or put barriers in the way of reaching a settlement. Council officers have been instructed to begin talks to agree a terms of reference for negotiations with all parties, unions and other legal representatives. This is a new approach for any administration in Glasgow.

We are legally, politically and morally required to ensure our decisions on equal pay are fully informed. While we inherited this unresolved issue we did not inherit any groundwork to make that decision, let alone any contingency plans should the council, as it has, lose the Court of Session case. In the weeks ahead we hope to establish a range and cost for any settlement and bring the various parties round the table.

Please be under no illusion, identifying and settling valid claims will be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. The numbers of cases involved and the complexity of the Council's pay and grading arrangements are such that it will take many months of analysis, comparison and negotiation before the principles of a settlement are finalised. Your union or legal representative is duty bound to provide you with realistic timescales.

However, we will not shirk from our responsibility to our workforce and seek excuses to hide behind. Our home carers and other women workers have waited long enough for a Council administration in Glasgow to demonstrate leadership on equal pay.

I would hope that in the near future the Council, your union or your legal representatives will be in a position to update you on how negotiations are progressing.

Councillor Susan Aitken