Thursday, 3 May 2018

Glasgow's Councillors



I shared some recent posts from the blog site with the 85 local councillors who are responsible for the oversight and good governance of Glasgow City Council.

Dear Councillor

Glasgow and Equal Pay

Settlement negotiations with Glasgow City Council have proceeded at a snail's pace up until now and equal pay claimants are becoming ever more frustrated.

Meanwhile senior officials continue to block FOI requests aimed at getting to the bottom of their role in the introduction of the Council's discredited, 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay scheme.

Kind regards



Mark Irvine

  


Vote Early, Vote Often!



'Vote early, vote often' says Stefan Cross in this Facebook post - and in the process send a message to Glasgow City Council to 'get serious' in the equal pay settlement negotiations which have proceeded at a snail's pace up till now. 

The claimants demands are fair, reasonable and long overdue - and it's a terrible indictment of the City Council that thousands of low paid women workers are having to consider taking strike action to enforce their rights to equal pay.  

'Get serious about compensating equal pay claimants for 11 years (and counting) of the Council's discredited, 'unfit for purpose' WPBR and agree to introduce a new job evaluation scheme which is open, transparent and commands the support of the workforce'. 

VOTE VOTE VOTE!



As you probably know UNISON and soon GMB will be conducting consultative ballots on possible strike action or action short of a strike.
These are NOT strike ballots. They are to test the level of support for such action. Whenever I post on here folk jump in and call for a strike. Do they speak for the majority or are the lone but load voices? This is how we find out.

It is essential as many folk vote as possible and in my view support action. If we can’t get support in a consultation we have no chance in a real ballot. If we look weak and divided we play into the employers hands. They might say the men will strike but the women won’t. 

If we look strong, United an angry the council are more likely to take notice. If it’s weak and divided then going back to tribunal becomes more inevitable with all the delay and cost. 
So don’t ignore the ballots. Participate and let the council hear you.


Glasgow - Equal Pay Update (27/04/18)



So the stakes have been raised yet again in the fight for equal pay in Glasgow with the news that the Unison Glasgow City Branch is to conduct an consultative strike ballot.

Here's the formal announcement from Unison and I believe that the GMB are to carry out a similar exercise over the month of May as well.

I'm sure the next few weeks of the campaign will be critical and the more people who get involved the better the outcome for all concerned - the message to the Council is:

'Get serious about compensating equal pay claimants for 11 years (and counting) of the Council's discredited, 'unfit for purpose' WPBR and agree to introduce a new job evaluation scheme which is open, transparent and commands the support of the workforce'. 

Equal Pay - UNISON consultative strike ballots. 



The Court of Session ruled last year on Glasgow City Council’s unequal pay system and inadequate current job evaluation scheme. Scotland’s top judges could not have been clearer – the council do not have a valid pay system. Many workers in the council and its arm’s length external organisations (ALEOs) have been discriminated against since 2006 when the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) was implemented. Most of these workers are women, many low paid.

Nearly five months into a series of meetings with the trade unions and Action4Equality the council have still not made any concrete moves to resolve the past pay discrimination - lots of words, no action!

The council also still refuse to accept that the current WPBR job evaluation and pay scheme has to be replaced moving forward, and all jobs re-evaluated with an equality-proofed scheme.

The council also need to commit more money to the total council pay bill moving forward - no robbing “Peter to pay Pauline”!

UNISON wants:

• The individual claimants compensated for past discrimination as soon as possible.
• A new job evaluation scheme which delivers pay equality and pay justice for all.
• The council to commit funding to ensure pay equality, justice and security for all.

UNISON is now calling on all members to increase the pressure on the council by voting for, and if necessary, taking strike action.

All 10,200 UNISON members in Glasgow City Council and its ALEOs will receive consultative ballot papers from Monday 30 April. Papers should be returned by Wednesday 30 May.

These consultative ballots will be used to build towards formal ballots if required.

Equal Pay and Pay Justice NOW…!

Vote YES to Strike Action…!!

Glasgow - FOI, Senior Officials and Equal Pay



Here is Glasgow's response to my FOI request in which I asked for information about the creation of the City Council's WPBR.

Now this is a very strange letter because the response has been issued in the name of the chief executive, Annemarie O'Donnell, even though the original FOI Review Request was submitted to Carole Forrest, the Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council. 

The letter has also been sent on Carole Forrest's headed paper but has been signed by the Council's chief executive, so something odd appears to be going on between these two highly paid officials.

In any event, I plan to appeal the Council's decision to the independent Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) because I don't believe for a minute that 'cost' is the real reason for GCC refusing my request, nor that it would cost over £600 to provide me with the details of what information GCC holds on its WPBR pay scheme.

In my view, this information ought to be freely and readily available for inspection via the Council's archive, especially with Glasgow claiming it wants to be "world class" in terms of openness and transparency - see the article below from the Evening Times dated 31 October 2017.

If you ask me, senior officials are making the Council look completely ridiculous and I now suspect that they really do have something to hide because why else would they be so reluctant to explain their actions and behaviour in relation to the WPBR?

In rejecting my FOI request the Council has chosen to hide behind the upper limit on costs (currently £600), but this is, of course, discretionary and given the importance of getting to the truth about the WPBR the Council could simply choose not to invoke this particular clause.

And, of course, senior officials have not always been so careful about exercising discretion when spending public money, for example over the decision to award discretionary 'added years' to the leaving package of the Council's former chief solicitor, Ian Drummond, worth an eye watering £250,000 or thereabouts.

So, in my view, this has nothing to do with the prudent use of public funds - instead it is all about preventing proper scrutiny of the most senior officials in Scotland's largest council.

Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council 
Carole Forrest LLB DipLP
Glasgow City Council
City Chambers 
George Square 
Glasgow G2 1DU 
DX GW572
Hand Deliveries to: 40 John Street Glasgow G1 1JL

Our Ref Your Ref
RQST6560146
13 April 2018

By email: markirvine@compuserve.com

Dear Mr Irvine

REQUEST FOR REVIEW UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (SCOTLAND) ACT 2002 (“THE ACT”)

I refer to your email of 21 March 2018 which I am treating as a formal request for review of theCouncil’s failure to respond to your initial request for information dated 20 February 2018.

On behalf of the Council, I apologise that you did not receive a response to your initial request for information. You should have received a response within the 20 working day timescales set out in the Act and I apologise that on this occasion you did not. Unfortunately, due to pressures of business the Council was unable to respond to your request on time.

YOUR REQUEST

You requested the following information:

“1) Please provide me with a list of all the information held by Glasgow City Council regarding its Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR)?

2) Please provide me with a list of all the information regarding the WPBR which Glasgow City Council has destroyed since the pay scheme was first introduced in 2007?

3) Please explain the basis for destroying information given the Vital Records Policy of Glasgow City Council an extract of which is reproduced below?

'Preserving the Archival and Historic Memory of Glasgow':

"Paragraph 1.4 It cannot be emphasised strongly enough that we do not need to keep every

individual record. However, we need to identify and preserve as archives those records which:
  •   assist the Council and the public to scrutinise the decisions and activities of the Council and its partner services
  •   help satisfy the public interest in the decisions and actions of the Council and its partner services, which affected they lives and those of previous generations or shaped the development of Glasgow and areas of the former Strathclyde
  •   allow the community to retain and transfer knowledge, learn from past experience, and protect the interests of citizens collectively and individually
    "Paragraph 6.2 Records Documenting the Actions of Council Officials1
"Most records document the actions of the Council. The Archivist seeks to retain that portion containing significant documentation of Council activities and which are essential to understanding and evaluating Council actions. For example, the Archives retains permanently those records that document the basic organisational structure of the Council and its services and major organisational changes over time, policies and procedures that pertain yo a department's core functions, and key decisions and actions.

"Paragraph 7.2 Decision making

"To identify, create and capture records providing the Council and the public with best evidence of the deliberations, decisions and actions of Council and Council institutions relating to key functions, programmes and significant issues.

"EXAMPLES

 Meeting papers, including records that reveal the background to, and reasoning behind decisions and actions, for:
Council and committees (and predecessor authorities)
Boards and Board Committees of the various partnership organisations

Directors', Senior Management, Service/Function Management meetings, i.e. any meetings which are responsible for key functions, programmes and significant issues."

4)Please confirm the date/s on which specific information regarding the WPBR was destroyed?

5) Please confirm the name and job title of City Council officials who authorised the destructionof information regarding the WPBR?”

The Council emailed you on 21 and 27 March 2018 requesting clarification on the scope of your request, namely, (i) whether your request was for all WPBR information or information relating to the creation of WPBR; and (ii) whether you your request was for all such documentation or a list of the documentation that the Council holds.

You responded to the Council’s requests for clarification on 29 and 30 March 2018 and advised that your request “relates only to the creation of the WPBR” and that your request is for “a 'catalogue' of the information regarding the creation or development of the WPBR held by Glasgow City Council - and not actual copies of all the information held by the Council”.

THE REVIEW DECISION

I can confirm that the Council is treating your request for this information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. The Council’s response to your requests for informationare as follows:

1. Please provide me with a list of all the information held by Glasgow City Council regarding its Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR)?

In terms of Section 17(1) of the Act, I can advise that the Council is unable to provide you with the information requested above. This is because the Council does not hold the information nor does anyone else hold it on its behalf. I can confirm that the Council does hold informationrelating to the establishment of the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (“WPBR”). However,it does not hold the information in the list format that you have requested. The Council is not obliged (nor is it a requirement) to collate a list of the information in the manner that you have requested. In terms of Section 1(4) of the Act, the Council is only required to disclose recorded information that it holds at the time of the information request.

The information that you have requested would require extensive manual searches to identify all the information held by the Council. It would be necessary to conduct searches across various Council departments.

In addition, it is likely that the information would have been created pre-2007 so it would be necessary to search both archived and open files. Each document would need to be reviewed in order to determine whether it falls within the remit of your request. Once the information had been collated and identified, a Council officer would be required to then create a list of the information.

I am of the view that the overall cost of providing this information would exceed the upper costs limit prescribed by the Freedom of Information (Fees for Required Disclosure) (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (currently £600). We would therefore be required to refuse your request in terms of Section 12(1) of the Act on the basis that compliance with the request would cause the Council to incur excessive costs.

2. Please provide me with a list of all the information regarding the WPBR which Glasgow City Council has destroyed since the pay scheme was first introduced in 2007?

In terms of Section 17(1) of the Act, I can advise that the Council is unable to provide you with the information requested above. This is because the Council does not hold the information nor does anyone else hold it on its behalf. As explained at paragraph 1 above, the Council is only required to disclose recorded information that it holds at the time of the request.

As there no list of information relating to the establishment of WPBR it is not possible to identify what, if any, information has been destroyed. By way of advice and assistance, the Council’sRecords Retention and Disposal Schedule can be found here:

https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=40660&p=0

3. Please explain the basis for destroying information given the Vital Records Policy of Glasgow City Council an extract of which is reproduced below?

I note the points that you have raised in your request in relation to the ‘Vital Records Policy of Glasgow City Council’. However, as explained above, you are entitled to make a request for recorded information that the Council holds at the time of your request. I can confirm that the Council does not hold the information requested above nor does anyone else hold it on its behalf. Accordingly, this part of your request is refused in terms of Section 17(1) of the Act.
  1. Please confirm the date/s on which specific information regarding the WPBR was destroyed?
  2. Please confirm the name and job title of City Council officials who authorised the destruction of information regarding the WPBR?
In relation to your request for information at paragraphs 4 and 5 above, I can confirm that the Council does not hold the information requested nor does anyone else hold it on its behalf.

Accordingly, this part of your request is refused in terms of Section 17(1) of the Act. As noted at paragraph 2 above, the Council does not keep a list of WPBR information that has been destroyed since 2007. Therefore we are not able to determine what, if any, information has been destroyed. Consequently, we are not able to confirm dates that specific information was destroyed or if any Council officer authorised the destruction of said information.

If you require further clarification or are not satisfied with this response, please e-mail me at FOIreviews@glasgow.gov.uk and I will ensure that the substantive matter of your request is reviewed. For the avoidance of doubt, the opportunity to contact us for a substantive review is without prejudice to your right to appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner. We haveprovided the contact details for the Commissioner’s office below if you wish to make anapplication to them for a decision.

RIGHT OF APPEAL

You have the right to make an application within six months of receipt of this letter for a decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner.

The Scottish Information Commissioner can be contacted as follows:
Address: Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, KY16 9DS. Email: enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info

Telephone: 01334 464610

You can also use the Scottish Information Commissioner’s online appeal service to make anapplication for a decision:
www.itspublicknowledge.info/appeal


Thereafter a decision by Scottish Information Commissioner may be appealed on a point of law to the Court of Session.

Yours sincerely


ANNEMARIE O’DONNELL
CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Shake-up set to make Glasgow City Council 'more open'

By Stewart Paterson @PatersonHT - Evening Times (31/10/17)


Susan Aitken

A SHAKE-UP of how Glasgow City Council comes to decisions, to make it as open and transparent as possible, is being planned.

The man charged with reviewing past decision of Labour run administrations, by new council leader Susan Aitken, has set out the remit of his Review of Governance.

The council said it wants to be “world class” in openness and transparency allowing the public, community groups and the media to be engaged in how the decision making process works.

Colin Mair, chief executive of the Improvement Service, has been appointed to lead the review and he will recommend changes for how councillors and officials go about their business.

The Evening Times revealed last month how Mr Mair would delve into previous decisions to uncover any practices that are considered out of step with the transparency aims of the new council administration.

His role has been dubbed a “transparency tsar” to remove any cloak of secrecy over decisions of the council that affect citizens.

Labour said it had no problems with its decisions being put under scrutiny.

He has now produced the proposed remit of his review which is to go before councillors this week for approval.

Mr Mair will also review the “whistleblowing” arrangements for council staff and the public to raise concerns.

In his report to councillors he said: “Given the financial challenges of the next five years, the administration is fully committed to engaging openly with communities of place and communities of interest in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the city.”

“It wants the council’s decisions to be fully explained and for sufficient information to be available for citizens to challenge, or campaign against them, if they wish to do so.”

Mr Mair’s remit will be to “review past governance and decision making” and to learn lessons for the future.

He will advise on what structures the council should adopt to ensure it is open, transparent and geared up for community participation in the decision making process and open to scrutiny.

Mr Mair will also make recommendations to councillors and council officials on their role and relationship and responsibilities.

He said he will examine the council’s communication methods with the public and the media and how open it is.

It is proposed that an all party group of councillors will oversee the review and a final report by Mr Mair will be submitted to the full council for approval.

He will hold face to face meetings with community groups, voluntary organisations, businesses and the media to gather suggestions and recommendations.

He said there will be a social media platform set up to allow the public to raise their individual concerns and to make their own suggestions for how the council can improve.