Sunday, 29 April 2018

Glasgow MSPs and MPs

Here's another post from the blog site archive which confirms that Humza Yousaf is very active on social media even though he has not go much to say, so far at least, on the subject of equal pay.

In the post below Humza is reported in the media as 'urging' employers not to dock the pay of staff who could't make it into work during the terrible few days of weather in March 2018.

Now these employers were all independent of the Scottish Government, so Humza was not able to tell them what to do although it didn't stop him from knowing his own mind and speaking out publicly.

And that's exactly what Glasgow needs from its politicians in the long fight for equal pay.


Glasgow MSPs and MPs (11/03/18)

I'm pleased to report that I've made some progress in my efforts to meet up with my local MP Alison Thewliss to discuss Glasgow's discredited WPBR pay scheme.

I now have a meeting in the diary with Alison for Monday 26 March which has taken a while to arrange and I am also trying to do the same with my two local SNP councillors, Jennifer Layden and Greg Hepburn, who are proving very difficult to pin down.

Quite why that should be I don't know.

I certainly expected that local politicians would be queuing up to demonstrate their support for local constituents who have been denied their employment rights and treated as second class citizens by Glasgow City Council for years.

A regular reader (T) of my blog has been in touch to say that he is also disappointed with Humza Yousaf's apparent lack of interest in the fight for equal pay.

So why not get together with a few other claimants and ask Humza Yousaf for a meeting or go along to one of his local surgeries.

If you ask me, any politician worth their salt should be delighted to get involved and support the campaign to replace the WPBR with new pay arrangements which are transparent, consistent and fair.

Surprise surprise

Humza hasn’t replied to any emails I’ve sent him about equal pay and hasn’t retweeted any of my tweets to him




Scottish Ministers and Equal Pay (10/03/18)

Here's a very interesting story from the BBC which reports that Humza Yousaf, a Scottish Government minister, was highly critical of employers for threatening to dock the wages of staff who couldn't get into work during last week's appalling weather.

"I'd be extremely, extremely disappointed if employers chose to dock wages for somebody because they couldn't travel during the red weather warning," said Humza Yousaf Scotland's transpire minister.

He also said he had received emails from a number of people who were "facing disciplinary or potential docking of wages" before adding:

"Now that's just simply not an acceptable situation, when the government and the police and other agencies joined together to give very crisp, very clear advice."

Now what surprised me was the minister's willingness to speak out so strongly, not least because as a local Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf has have nothing of substance to say about the long fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council which has been raging for the past 10 years. 

But I'm not the sort of person to look a gift horse in the mouth and neither should equal pay claimants in Glasgow who are contacting MSPs and MPs to ask where they stand on getting rid of the City Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay scheme.

Lots of people have been in touch to say they've already fired off emails to their local councillors, MSPs and MPs - so keep me posted on what the politicians have to say.

Scottish government warns employers over snow days pay docking

Image caption - The clear-up continues following the heavy snow falls across Scotland last week

Scottish ministers are considering action against employers for docking the wages of staff who could not make it to work because of the bad weather.

The public was advised not to travel during the worst of the snow last week.

Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said he had been contacted by people who were facing disciplinary action or potential docking of wages.

He told the BBC that was not acceptable and he would look at the legal position.

His comments come as icy roads and snow continue to cause disruption in parts of the UK but forecasters say temperatures are starting to rise.

Weather warnings for snow and ice are in place for parts of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland.

Many rail services are still affected while three flood warnings are in place.

The UK's economic growth is also likely to take a short-term hit, experts have warned, predicting a "disaster" for the high street as people staying at home turned to online shopping.

But temperatures are rising across the UK, with highs of 9C expected in Plymouth on Sunday.

Efforts are continuing to get the UK moving again. In Scotland, the main trunk roads are operational, as are the airports, and the railways are getting gradually back to usual service.

Image copyright - GETTY IMAGES Image caption"Armies" of local people have helped clear roads across Scotland, including in the village of Blanefield

The west coast mainline reopened between Scotland and Carlisle on Sunday evening.

ScotRail earlier said it had a "near-normal service" running across the country.

Many rural communities in south-west England which had been cut off by poor conditions can now be reached. 

Workers 'facing disciplinary action'

On Wednesday into Thursday, Scotland ground to a halt with a red weather warning in place and people told not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme, Mr Yousaf said: "I'd be extremely, extremely disappointed if employers chose to dock wages for somebody because they couldn't travel during the red weather warning."

Media caption - Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland following a week of weather disruption

He said he had received emails from a number of people who were "facing disciplinary or potential docking of wages".

He added: "Now that's just simply not an acceptable situation, when the government and the police and other agencies joined together to give very crisp, very clear advice."

Asked what action Mr Yousaf might take against employers, he responded: "I don't know the legal position, but it will clearly be part of the debrief that we have after we pass through the yellow weather warning, which is late Monday night."

The minister said the process would involve "talking to employers and having that dialogue with them, and internally looking at what powers we have is clearly part of the discussion we're going to have".

Meanwhile, the Met Office currently has two yellow severe weather warnings in place, including for snow and ice across a large area of central and eastern Scotland until Monday night.

A second warning for ice in parts of north-east England and Northern Ireland is in force until 11:00 GMT on Monday.

The Met Office has also issued a third yellow warning of snow and ice for Tuesday covering northern Scotland.

The three flood warnings are in coastal parts of south-west and north-east England and are because of high tides, rather than thawing snow.

ScotRail said on Sunday morning: "A massive thank you to everyone at the ScotRail Alliance that worked tirelessly day and night to get Scotland's railway back up and running."

Virgin Trains still has no services running between Carlisle and Scotland on the west coast main line and said it did not expect services to resume on Sunday. It is offering a limited replacement bus service.

Image copyright - NETWORK RAIL SCOTLAND Image caption - The railways are facing a challenge to clear snow

On the east coast route, Virgin said it hoped to run a "near-normal Sunday timetable" but passengers were urged to travel only if necessary as trains would be busy.

On Saturday, communities answered a call from the Scottish government to work together to clear local areas.

Image caption - Snow clearing at South Morningside Primary in Edinburgh

"Armies" of parent volunteers have been mobilised to try to get schools ready for Monday morning.

Many schools contacted parents via social media asking for help to clear paths and playgrounds to make them safe for pupils to return.

Hundreds of thousands of children have not been in the classroom since Tuesday due to extreme weather.

Parents and teachers have already been working to clean up snow from school grounds to allow them to reopen on Monday.

Other schools posted appeals for volunteers to gather at specific times to get grounds cleared.

Most councils who were forced to close schools last week were aiming to reopen facilities after the weekend, weather depending.

The Scottish government has also opened the Bellwin Scheme, set up to help councils who face large costs from damage due to the severe weather.

First Minister and Equal Pay (28/04/18)

No person in their right mind would expect Nicola Sturgeon to set aside her day job to become a 'rat catcher', but I was intrigued by this article in The Times the other day about a plague of pests which has infested parts of the First Minister's Glasgow Southside constituency.

Because when people write to the First Minister about the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council, her spokesperson replies like a character out of Yes Minister by saying:

 "Councils are independent of the Scottish Government......yadda, yada yada" (see post below dated 24 April 2018).

But when it comes to an infestation of rats, mice and cockroaches in Govanhill the First Minister is 'closely engaged with the issues according to the following comment in The Times:

"A spokesman for the first minister said: "Govanhill, like many areas, faces specific challenges, and it is important that all sections of the community are included and involved in addressing those challenges. The first minister is closely engaged with issues in the area her constituency office is situated in the heart of Govanhill."

Now I don't know of any Glasgow MSP (or MP for that matter) who is closely engaged in the issues regarding equal pay - I send them information all the time via social media and email, but seldom do I get a response or a Like, Share or Retweet.

And there is a huge amount for MSPs and MPs to engage with by speaking out on a wide range of issues affecting their local constituents including:
  1. The City Council's discredited WPBR pay scheme which has been condemned as 'unfit for purpose' by Scotland's highest civil court, the Court of Session
  2. The WPBR's 37 hour 'rule' which was designed to disadvantage the City Council's largely female workforce
  3. The creation of Glasgow's ALEOs including Cordia which has treated thousands of Home Carers and other staff as second class citizens for years 
  4. The less favourable treatment women workers in GCC receive in relation to overtime working and holiday pay
  5. The case for a new Job Evaluation scheme (to replace the WPBR) which is open, transparent and commands the support of the workforce
  6. The need for openness and transparency over the introduction of the WPBR and the role played by the City Council's senior officials
So when equal pay claimants say they are being given the 'run around' by Glasgow City Council on these issues, I would expect local politicians to listen, get closely engaged and speak up on behalf of their constituents.

Which is presumably what's happening over the rats, mice and cockroaches in Govanhill.

Pests plague residents of Sturgeon’s constituency

By Marc Horne - The Times

Residents of Govanhill, one of Glasgow’s most impoverished areas, are affected by infestations - TIMES PHOTOGRAPHER JAMES GLOSSOP

The full extent of infestations of rats, mice, cockroaches and bedbugs affecting residents in the first minister's constituency has been revealed.

Glasgow city council figures have outlined the scale of the problem in Govanhill, home to many migrants and refugees. The district, which covers one square mile and has a population of 14,000, accounts for almost all insectrelated callouts to city council pest controllers.

Scotland's largest local authority spends more than £175,000 a year on pest control. However, efforts to contain the problem are being undermined by rogue landlords letting squalid, unhygienic properties and residents who are not washing the affected bedding and clothing at high enough temperatures to kill bedbugs.

The report throws further light on conditions in the area where specialist officers from the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit are conducting an inquiry, prompted by a Times report which revealed vulnerable children were being sold for abuse in the district.

Since 2009 almost 7,000 incidents involving bug contamination have been dealt with in the area, which is part of Glasgow Southside and is represented by Nicola Sturgeon. A further 3,000 cases featuring rats and mice have been recorded since 2014.

Paul McGrath, the report's author, writes: "From July 2008 to date, in excess of 6,700 bedbug and cockroach complaints have been received, involving more than 1,500 properties. Govanhill accounts for over 95 per cent of bed bug and cockroach complaints in the city. There are a number of factors pertinent to Govanhill which contribute to the current situation, aiding the spread of infestations. These include property disrepair, unhygienic properties, frequent resident moves, overcrowding and poor co-operation."

The document notes that council officers, accompanied by interpreters, regularly visit properties in the area to "encourage behavioural changes".

Mr McGrath adds: "Perhaps the largest problem faced in relation to bedbug treatments has been the fact that residents rarely fully prepare flats for sprays or wash clothing at 60C after treatment, which is essential to kill all life-cycle stages of the bedbug."

Cockroach callouts have fallen but the numbers involving mice climbed from 90 in 2014 to 724 last year and 303 rat incidents were also recorded.

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour's health spokesman, called on Ms Sturgeon to take action. He said: "No one should have to live with pest or bug infestation in 2018 and it is time the first minister, whose constituency this is, and all the relevant authorities worked together to get this issue sorted out.

"Condemning people to live in conditions like this is simply intolerable and cannot go on."

Annie Wells, Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow, added: "The first minister prides herself on being a progressive politician constantly talking about the kind of place she wants Scotland to be. Yet in her own back yard appalling poverty is allowed to unfold." Many of those living in overcrowded and substandard rented accommodation are members of Govanhill's 4,000-strong Roma community.

Marion Nisbet of Crosshill and Govanhill community council said: "It's outrageous in the 21st century we have got children in Govanhill that are scared to get up and go to the toilet at night because the place is riddled with mice, cockroaches and the rest of it."

A city council spokesman said: "As a direct consequence of our pest control work in Govanhill the number of related calls has dropped significantly in the past four years.

"To get fully on top of this issue we ask for further co-operation from landlords and residents."

A spokesman for the first minister said: "Govanhill, like many areas, faces specific challenges, and it is important that all sections of the community are included and involved in addressing those challenges. The first minister is closely engaged with issues in the area her constituency office is situated in the heart of Govanhill."

From 'Quiet Bunch' to 'Wild Bunch' (27/04/18)

So it seems that Humza Yousaf, the MSP for Glasgow Pollok and Scotland's transport minister, is not a 'Quiet Man' after all when it comes to speaking his mind on social media.

According to the Evening Times Humza has been accused of 'trolling' Rangers fans by poking fun at the suggestion that the former Liverpool and England captain, Stephen Gerrard, could become the Ibrox club's new manager.

Now I can't see anything wrong with what Humza had to say because his comments were not in the least provocative or insulting - even if some Rangers fans choose to take offence while turning a convenient 'deaf ear' to the antics of the sectarian element of their own support.

But what astonishes me is that while Humza has time to tweet about football, as a local MSP Humza has had nothing to say about the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council.

Now I'm sure Humza 'supports' the principle of equal pay (who doesn't?), the point is that he has had nothing of substance to say about what's going on in Glasgow City Council - despite me sending Humza and all the other Glasgow MSPs and MPs barrowloads of information explaining:

  • the Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR scheme
  • the impact of the 37 hour 'rule' on Glasgow's largely female workforce 
  • the years of pay discrimination against thousands of Cordia council employees
  • the FOI battle for openness and transparency over the introduction of the WPBR

So I hope Humza and other Glasgow politicians keep speaking out on Twitter and Facebook - all I would like is to see more attention being paid to the fight for equal pay.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf in trolling Rangers fans row over "Stephen Gerrard" tweet
By Martin Williams @Martin1Williams - The Evening Times

Transport minister Humza Yousaf in trolling Rangers fans row over "Stephen Gerrard" tweet

TRANSPORT minister Humza Yousaf has come under fire for "trolling" Rangers fans over news that ex-Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard was in talks with the club to become new manager.

Mr Yousaf took to social media to comment after it emerged that Gerrard was in the frame to replace Graeme Murty.

But Mr Yousaf, a Celtic fan, was strongly criticised after he tweeted: "Spoiler alert - Gerrard won't be Rangers manager."

Follow Rangers Shareholders, the new supporters group aimed at participating in fan ownership accused Mr Yousaf of "trolling".

They said: "We are astonished and disappointed that Scottish Government minister Humza Yousaf spent part of the normal working day trolling Rangers supporters.

"It's clear where his priorities lie - and it's not with the welfare of the Scottish people!"

Mr Yousaf later responded: "No idea why on earth anyone would be offended or insulted by my opinion that it is very unlikely Stephen (sic) Gerrard will be the next Rangers manager."

One fan pointed out that Gerrard's first name is spelt with a 'v'.

Ibrox director of football Mark Allen is leading the search for Rangers next boss and it is understood he has been speaking to a number of candidates to take over the Ibrox hot seat, with Gerrard's name expected to be on a shortlist.

The former Liverpool and England captain, who retired as a player in 2016, was appointed manager of Liverpool's under 18s team last summer.

Last year Mr Yousaf was accused of “baiting” Rangers fans – after apparently publishing a tweet mocking them for their Old Firm defeat to Celtic.

Mr Yousaf who is Minister for Transport and the Islands,deleted the tweet after facing a strong backlash.

Yousaf sent the tweet after being called a “w***” by a Rangers fan online.

His post read: “I can’t *5-1* imagine what is *5-1* upsetting you to such *5-1* an extent that you would *5-1* make such a foul *5-1* insult? *5-1.”

Glasgow's Politicians (25/04/18)

I've sent a copy of my post on 'Glasgow - Accountability and Equal Pay' to all of the city's MSPs and MPs along with the following Twitter message:

It's a disgrace that so many senior officials were so handsomely rewarded over while GCC got into a terrible mess over equal pay. Some have been awarded top-ups to their pensions and been awarded honours 'for services to local government'

I am also planning to send a copy to all elected councillors in Glasgow and I'm sure lots of equal pay claimants will want to follow this up with messages of their own as the campaign heats in the weeks ahead.

I will publish contact details for Glasgow's MSPs and MPs on the bloke site again and you can find that email and phone numbers for your own local councillor via the following link to the City Council's web site:

A number of readers have been in touch to say that their local MSPs or MPs don't respond to emails which I find quite shocking, I have to admit.

If this happens again, then let me know the names of any Glasgow politicians behaving so rudely because it is obviously part of their job to respond to constituents' enquiries and take their concerns seriously.

And if they can't be bothered to do so, I'm happy to 'name names' and share people's experiences on the blog site.