Thursday, 16 November 2017

Glasgow - Mind the Gap

Image result for mind the gap + images

The fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council is all about eliminating unjustifiable pay differences between male and female jobs.

The female dominated jobs are referred to as the 'claimants'  and the male dominated jobs as the 'comparators'.

The 'pay gap' is the difference in pay between the claimants and their comparators which is not the same for every job and varies from case to case: a Home Carer has a higher male comparator than a Cleaner, for example.

Glasgow City Council now accepts that its pre-WPBR pay arrangements (back in 2005/06) were discriminatory and indefensible, but instead of doing the right thing the Council tried to get away with a 'quick fix' - by encouraging low paid workers to accept very poor, low value settlements of their claims.

GCC employees in their thousands (in the run-up to Christmas 2005) were duped into giving up their equal pay claims on the cheap although those who pursued their case with A4ES (Action 4 Equality Scotland) ended up with a much better deal.

What Glasgow should have done at that point was to 'equalise' the pay of women workers who had been cheated and robbed of their right to equal pay years, so that going forward everyone was being treated fairly - on the basis of equal pay for work of equal value.

But the Council pulled a fast one by introducing an untried and untested WPBR pay scheme which included 'rules' that continued to favour traditional male jobs - at the expense of a predominantly female workforce.  

For example, before the WPBR a Road Worker (MW4) was an a lower grade than a Home Carer (MW5), but after the introduction of new pay arrangements the Home Carer ended up on a lower WPBR grade and much lower WPBR earnings - the Road Worker was awarded WPBR Grade 5.

The ongoing dispute with Glasgow City Council centres on this Pay Gap: A4ES says that a Home Carer, for example, must be able to use the former Road Worker (MW4) job as her equal pay comparator because men and women should have been in the same starting position before the WPBR pay scheme came into operation.

The Council is arguing that the comparison to be made is after the WPBR was implemented in January 2007 and the effect of this is to reduce or to remove the pay gap altogether, if two jobs end up on different WPBR grades.

In other words, Home Carers would 'lose' the ability to compare their jobs to the job of a Road Worker even though the 'rules' the WPBR have clearly been designed and manipulated to benefit the interests of traditional male jobs.

So there is no agreement on what constitutes the 'pay gap', as yet, which is true for both the Pay Protection period (2007 to 2009) and the later period of people's equal pay claims from 2009 onwards.

The Council is arguing that the WPBR changed the rules of the 'game', but the A4ES position is that the WPBR is now completely discredited after the Court of Session decision which judged Glasgow's pay scheme to be 'unfit for purpose'.


Glasgow - Equal Pay and JES (14/11/17)

I have been preoccupied in recent days with FOI (Freedom of Information) and the difficulties of getting a proper settlement process in place with Glasgow City Council. 

As regular readers know, dates are finally in the diary (though not until 4 and 11 December) for initial discussions to begin, although that was a struggle in itself and hardly suggested a real sense of urgency on the Council's part at least.

But there are still big problems with the pay data council officials are supplying to explain how the interests of traditional, former bonus earning jobs were 'looked after' under the now discredited WPBR pay scheme.   

So the fight continues until there is proper transparency over Glasgow's pay arrangements, as I've said on the blog site many times before.

One issue that will have to be addressed in future settlement talks is what replaces the WPBR and how any new job evaluation scheme (JES) can command confidence from the workforce which has had the wool pulled over its eyes in the past.

Here's what I wrote on the blog site about the JES review conducted by North Lanarkshire Council previously and if you ask me, any new JES in Glasgow needs to be built upon the following principles:
  1. Openness and transparency at all stages of the process
  2. Removing gender bias rather than protecting the 'status quo'
  3. Informed consent on the part of the workforce and trade unions
  4. Expert advice which is properly independent of the City Council
If we can build support around these principles, equal pay for work of equal value will finally become a reality in Glasgow City Council. 


NLC Upate (16/05/15)

I know It's early days yet, but so far at least North Lanarkshire Council has not been in touch to take up my offer to carry out a further Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) for absolutely free!

The bargain of the year, if you ask me.

Now even if the Council feels a bit nervous about that prospect, I imagine that the trade unions can see how much sense this would make because no one knows the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement better than me, as I led the negotiations with the Scottish council employers during my time as Unison's Head of Local Government and chief negotiator in Scotland.

I was also directly involved in the design of the Scottish job evaluation scheme (JES) as it should have been applied back in1999 - 2002 (never mind 2006/07) which means I'm ideally placed to help North Lanarkshire Council get things absolutely right this time around.

So let's hope the phone rings soon because I'm ready and raring to go and it's not every day I offer to work without charging a fee. 

North Lanarkshire Update (01/05/15)

Here's my Action 4 Equality Scotland 'manifesto' on the way in which a further round of job evaluation should be carried out in North Lanarkshire Council to safeguard the interests of the workforce.   

1 A firm from commitment from all parties to complete openness and transparency during the re-evaualtion process

Publication of all female dominated jobs to be re-evaluated and reasons for selection

3 Publication of all male dominated jobs to be re-evaluated and reasons for selection

Publication of all revised job descriptions and an opportunity for input/comment

5 Publication of all JES scores and individual JES factor scores 

6 Publication of a 'rank order test' before any new proposals are finalised

Agreement to a further Equality Impact Assessment (prior to implementation) by an independent person not selected by the Council which revisit the issue of grade boundaries

Now I'm sure there will be lots of people within the workforce who would support this 'seven point plan' and I am happy to work with the trade unions as well to ensure that there is no repeat of what happened in the past.

So, I'm prepared to offer my services to carry out a further Equality Impact Assessment, not just because the last one didn't work out too well, but in order to achieve an outcome that is seen to be fair by everyone involved, especially the workforce. 

In fact, I'll go further and say I'd be prepared to do conduct another Equality Impact Assessment free-of-charge which would also save the Council some money into the bargain.