I've had an interesting email exchange with Councillor Raja from Glasgow City Council on the subject of equal pay.
If you ask me, councillors are being fed 'pap' and nonsense by senior officials which is why it's important the claimants get their own message across.
No one is asking councillors to pre-empt negotiations, but rather to take an active interest in what's going on and not to rely on senior officials as a reliable source or their only source of information.
After all, this group of senior officials helped to introduce the unfit for purpose WPBR pay scheme and have been defending its indefensible practices in the courts for years.
So why would anyone place a great deal of trust in what senior officials have to say - especially when there's no sign that the leopard has changed its spots.
Dear Councillor Raja
Glasgow and Equal Pay
Many thanks for your email dated 10 April 2018.
I would not expect elected councillors to pre-empt the result of negotiations between the council the claimants' representatives, for obvious reasons.
My purpose is to explain that these negotiations are proceeding at a snail's pace and that no progress has been made on the big substantive issues after months of discussions with senior officials.
The same officials are also talking about imposing an 'interim settlement' on the claimants which has not been negotiated and agreed with their representatives. If this does happen, as I said in my previous letter, the council will lose any claim to be acting in good faith.
While you are correct in saying that a specific workstream has been created to deal with job evaluation and the WPBR, the view of the claimants couldn't be clearer - the scheme introduced by Glasgow's senior officials is blatantly discriminatory and has to be replaced.
The job evaluation group, by the way, has not even met and its first meeting is not until May 2018 which tells you all you need to know about the 'glacial' speed with which the council is moving.
Dear Mr Irvine
Thank you very much for your email of 9th April 2018 regarding your concerns in respect of equal pay.
I believe that a process of negotiations has got underway, and I hope you will understand that I would not wish to pre-empt the result of those negotiations between the Council and the claimants representatives.
I do understand that the position of the claimant representatives is that the WPBR scheme requires to be replaced. However, given the consequences of such a step this is a matter which requires further discussion and exploration at said negotiating talks.
I should also say that I have been advised that a specific workstream has been created with agreement of both sides, and its purpose will be to revisit the scheme.
I hope the above is of assistance to you.
Bailie Hanif Raja
Pollokshields – Ward 6
Dear CouncillorGlasgow and Equal PaySettlement negotiations with Glasgow City Council are still proceeding at a snail's pace and after months of talks there is still no sign that senior officials, who introduced the WPBR and defended the scheme tooth and nail for years, are now prepared to accept that the Court of Session's judgment that the council's pay arrangements are 'unfit for purpose'.The next scheduled meeting is on 17 April 2018, but instead of addressing the big issues of compensating employees for 11 years (and counting) of pay discrimination and the need for new, equality-proofed pay arrangements, council officials are apparently planning to impose an 'interim settlement' which has not been negotiated and agreed with the claimants' representatives - A4ES, GMB and Unison.If this does happen, the City Council and its officials will clearly have lost any claim to be acting in good faith.Kind regardsMark Irvine
Chicken Feed vs Equal PayStefan Cross posted some thoughts on Facebook yesterday about the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council.As you can read for yourself, things are not going well and after all this time there have still been no negotiations on the substantive issues because:· Senior officials are still intent on defending their handling of the equal pay in Glasgow and are not prepared to admit they got things terribly wrong - never mind apologise for their poor judgment and behaviour.· Glasgow's political leadership is not engaged in any way with A4ES, GMB and Unison (the claimants representatives) and is still relying solely on the advice of the same group of officials who got the City Council into this terrible mess in the first place· Neither the senior officials or political leadership of the City Council seems prepared to face up to the scale of the problem which clearly requires help in some way, shape or form - additional borrowing powers, for example - from the Scottish Government.· Glasgow's MSPs and MPs appear keen to stay well away from the issue, even though some of their number have strong links with the City Council having served as elected councillors during the period of this long-running equal pay dispute.· The only national politician to show some initiative, so far at least, is the Labour leader Richard Leonard who has called for Glasgow to apologise for the shameful treatment of its equal pay claimants over previous years.· Glasgow's 8 MSPs (all SNP) have not responded to this call and nor have the political groups within the City Council.So if you ask me, the outlook is bleak for the next round of settlement negotiations on 17 April 2018.
After all this time and against the background of the highest court in Scotland, the Court of Session, condemning Glasgow's pay arrangements as 'unfit for purpose' - the City Council and its thousands of equal pay claimants are talking two different languages.
Now this certainly was not the case in previous settlement negotiations with North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils, for example, which took some time, admittedly, but never at the ridiculous 'snail's pace' evident in Glasgow City Council.
Something's got to give for sure and the big question is whether GCC is intent on offering more 'chicken feed' to its lowest paid, predominantly female workers - or is the council really committed to delivering equal pay for work of equal value?A BIRD IN THE HAND?
GCC AND ITS INTERIM PAYMENT
Despite asking us to keep matters confidential the council's own chief exec has written to folk claiming that “proposals” have been made for an interim payment.This is not true, at least not using my definition of a proposal (an idea for discussion). She also said that the claimant group had rejected the idea of an interim payment. That is true.
This exchange perfectly illustrates the problems we are having with officers.Confidentiality only when it suits them, completely ignoring what the claimant group say, and attempting to either impose steps on us or bounce us into accepting so called ‘proposals’ without any input from us. This is not a collaborative working relationship, it’s master and servant.There’s no frank exchange of views, listening, responding and compromising. It’s just this is what we are going to do. Just like they did with cordia holiday pay.
So why have we changed our position on an Interim payment? lots of reasons
1) Circumstances have changed.When it was first suggested they had sought leave to appeal and we thought we’d have that hanging over our heads for 2 years. If that was right it was worth discussing. Frankly, even if that was still true we wouldn’t be in agreement with what they are trying to foist on us now.
2) It’s a distraction.Whilst we argue over the IP we’re not discussing settlement. We’ve had not one single debate about any issue between us. Whilst this is happening that won’t change.
3) The way they are approaching it.It’s literally the bare minimum that their lawyers think a tribunal would award and only for the protection period. We don’t agree with their legal analysis and even more importantly we don’t agree that’s the right approach. It only looks at the protection period and it’s completely the wrong mindset.
4) The amounts they are talking about are tiny.Less than 5% of our valuation of the claims. We can’t give details as the council wanted them to be confidential.
5) We think it will adversely affect settlement discussionsBy stringing them out for much longer, and secondly leading officers to believe they’ve done the bare minimum so being prepared to go back to tribunal. This is their short term, risk adverse mentality writ large. They seem incapable of looking at the big picture or thinking long term
6) It salves the conscience of the politiciansThey will say they’ve delivered a promise of “getting money in womens’ hands “ and they will then take a back seat and officers regain control.
7) the process is already too slow. It will get slower.
Now if the council were to agree to a substantial payment, say X% of everyone’s claim, that might be different as then we would be talking the same language. No chance of that at this stage. We aren’t having constructive dialogue and they simply don’t want to get their heads round the value of the claims.
SO IS A BIRD IN THE HAND WORTH IT?No as it’s just chicken feed is my view.
Let’s be clear unless we make substantial progress by the end of May we will be seeking to go back to tribunal.