Friday, 29 May 2015

All Applicants Welcome?

Image result for employment applicants + UK images

I came across this job advert on the GMB Scotland web site which for some strange reason doesn't mention a salary for the post although I would guess this must be upwards of £35,000 a year.

Even more intriguingly, from my point of view at least, are the references to advancing the polices and promoting the interests of the Labour Party whichs seem at odds with the views of most trade union members in Scotland, given the emphatic result of the recent general election.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that unless potential candidates for these jobs are Labour Party supporters, they'll never get past first base and if so, how does this square with the GMB's claim to be an EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES EMPLOYER? 

Now I don't have any problem with trade unions having political aims and objects, but you would think that in this day and age the workforce of trade unions (including those at senior level) would broadly reflect the views and values of the members they claim to represent. 



GMB Scotland Region has vacancies for two Organisers and we are seeking applications from individuals with a desire to help us develop the membership of the union. 

As an Organiser, the successful applicant would join the Region’s drive to recruit and organise new members, this role will also have an emphasis on servicing membership and will carry a worksheet.
The exact location of these posts within Scotland has yet to be decided.  Before applying candidates need to be aware that they may be based at any of our offices within the Region.  A copy of a job description for an Organiser is attached.

Applicants must have a proven record of the following:

• Servicing, organising and recruitment
• A broad understanding of trade union objectives, and a strong personal commitment to these objectives
• Applicants must be prepared to work as a team, and the successful candidate would display strong interpersonal skills and an ability to communicate effectively in challenging environments
• On a personal basis, the applicant would need to display energy, enthusiasm, resilience, commitment, and an ability to use individual initiative.

Since the backgrounds of suitable candidates can vary enormously, we are requesting that interested applicants should not only send a CV, but also a special report (up to 500 words), which should describe what you believe is involved in the role, and why you believe you would be successful.

Training will be provided to the successful candidate, who will receive an excellent package of benefits and Terms and Conditions.  This includes a car so the applicants are required to be in possession of a full current driving licence.  It should be carefully noted that the hours of work are ‘unspecified’ and will necessarily entail an element of unsocial hours, which will include weekend work.  Periods of working away from home will also be required.  It should also be noted that Officers of the GMB can be relocated at the discretion of the Regional Secretary to meet the needs of the Region.

If you are interested in being considered for this vacancy, application forms are available by contacting the regional office on 0141 332 8641, or emailing or
Please note the deadline for applications is first post on Friday 29 May 2015, after which a short-list will be drawn up.  For those who are short-listed an Assessment Day will take place on either Thursday 11 or Friday 12 June 2015 at GMB, Fountain House, 1/3 Woodside Crescent, Glasgow G3 7UJ.  Successful candidates from the Assessment Day will go forward for a formal interview which will be held on Friday, 19 June 2015 at GMB, Fountain House, 1/3 Woodside Crescent, Glasgow G3 7UJ.
Would all applicants therefore, please ensure they are available on these dates.

Job Title:   Organiser
Accountable to:  Through Senior Organiser to Regional Secretary
Main Purpose of Role:
• To organise high quality representation of members, principally at local and Regional level, but on occasions at National level.
• Under the authority of the Regional Secretary and through the supervision of the Senior Organiser, build and maintain Union membership by implementing agreed strategies.

1) Recruitment and Organisation
• Identify unorganised employees as targets for recruitment, prepare campaigns appropriate to each recruitment situation, including the personal recruitment of individuals and groups, and organisation of recruitment teams and recruitment networks.
• Establish procedures to consolidate and retain membership.
• Motivate Activists, Representatives and Branches to recruit and organise members, monitoring this organisational work, as necessary.
• Establish recognition, and maintain workplace and Branch organisation, encouraging the highest level of self-sufficiency consistent with high quality representation.
• Assist Branches to develop their Recruitment Plans.

2) Representation and Negotiation
• Handle individual and collective grievances and disciplinary issues.
• Prepare and present claims for improvements in Pay and Conditions, within a variety of different bargaining arrangements, avoiding deadlocks and using ACAS and other agencies to resolve difficulties, as appropriate.
• Analyse the outcome of negotiations.
• Represent members before Employment Tribunals, Medical Appeal Tribunals and Social Security Appeal Tribunals on straightforward cases, seeking advice and assistance on more complex cases, as necessary.
• Responsible for implementing Union's policy on Equal Opportunities.

3) Health, Safety and the Environment
• Provide support to Union Representatives on Health, Safety and Environmental issues, encouraging a preventative approach to hazards, and a high standard of health and environmental protection, with the support of specialist help, where required.
4) Pensions
• Negotiate the establishment of and/or the improvements in Pensions Schemes, applying the principles of equality, with the support of specialist help, where required.

5) Work Organisation and Productivity
• Negotiate the introduction of, or improvements in, productivity schemes of various types.
• Devise strategies for changing work organisation to increase job satisfaction, and to create career pathways.
• Assess company strengths and weaknesses using information from company accounts and from other published sources with the support of specialist help, where required.

6) Political
• To encourage organisational work at CLP, District and Regional level to advance the policies of the GMB in the Labour Party.
• Take part in election campaigns in support of Labour Candidates.
• To encourage recruitment initiatives to increase the membership of the Labour Party.

7) Training of GMB Representatives
• Provide initial support training for newly elected GMB Representatives, and ensure that GMB Representatives receive subsequent training in line with GMB policy.
• Prepare and conduct specific training courses using participative techniques.

8) Administration
• Organise own work load with the minimum of supervision to make effective use of time.
• Work effectively with secretarial and clerical support staff.
• Store and retrieve information, both on paper and using information technology, understanding the GMB computer system, including the nature and accuracy of stored data.

The post requires:
• A good knowledge of industrial relations, practices and procedures.
• A knowledge of Employment Law sufficient to ensure that employers honour their legal obligations and members secure their legal rights, potting members and the GMB against legal action.
• Effective communication skills, including report writing and public speaking.
• An understanding of the GMB Rules and structure.
• An understanding of the policies of the GMB, the TUC and the Labour Party.

• Undertake other duties at the discretion of the Regional Secretary.

• Organisers will be required to undertake training to improve their knowledge and skills to maintain a high standard of performance. They will also be encouraged to identify their own training needs so that these can be taken into account in their training programmes alongside the training requirements which are designed to meet the needs of the GMB

North Lanarkshire Update

I submitted the following FoI request to North Lanarkshire Council 10 days or so ago now, but even though officials must have this information to hand I am sure I'll have to wait the full 28 days laid down in the legislation before anyone responds.

Now thesis perfectly within the time limits laid down by Scotland's FoI regime although if you ask me, it says some thing public bodies who wait until the last minute to respond even though in this case the issues involved must have been discussed and approved by a Council committee.

So what's the big secret, why not just spill the beans?  

North Lanarkshire Update (21/05/15)

Here's my latest FoI request to North Lanarkshire which focuses on the recent news  that the Council's chief executive, Gavin Whitefield is to retire early at only 59 years young.

Now I think that lots of employees in North Lanarkshire would dearly love to retire early, but just why is it that the highly paid Council bigwigs always seem to be first in the queue?  

Maybe I should ask another FoI question about how many low paid North Lanarkshire staff have been allowed to retire from their duties over the past 10 years.

I'll bet the answer is very few, if any at all.

Gavin Whitefield
Chief Executive
North Lanarkshire Council

Dear Mr Whitefield
FOISA Request 

I would like to make the following request under the Freedom of Information Scotland Act 2002.
Please confirm the financial elements of the early retirement package under which the current chief executive will leave North Lanarkshire Councll later this year?

2 Please confirm whether any extra years have been added to the CEO's early retirement package and the additional costs, if any, involved?

3 Please confirm how any decision to add extra years was approved within the Council and the grounds for reaching this decision? 

I look forward to your reply and would be grateful if you could respond to me by e-mail to:
Kind regards

Mark Irvine

NLC Update (28/05/15)

I am receiving lots of emails from A4ES clients asking when their settlement monies will paid; the A4ES office is getting similar enquiries by telephone.

The position is that A4ES cannot confirm an exact date on which payment will be made, but once all the completed paperwork has been returned and checked, the details are passed on to North Lanarkshire Council for processing.

So everything is moving ahead as planned and there are no particular delays or problems other than getting through the large number of claimants involved in this exercise.

Payment will be made into the same bank account into which people's wages are paid and if A4ES clients are no longer employed with North Lanarkshire Council, their cheques will be issued via Fox and Partners Solicitors.

Union Dinosaurs

Image result for jurassic park + images

Here's an interesting article by Richard Angell on the role of trade unions inside the Labour Party.

Now I didn't realise that the unions are opposed to online ballots because that's the obvious way of improving participation in all manner of things, so long as the security issues can be overcome.

Otherwise what's not to like about making it easier and more convenient for people to vote because the younger generation, in particular, must think the union movement still lives in Jurassic Park. 

I don't know Richard Angell, but he is apparently a former trade union official and now acts as the director of Progress, one of the various campaign groups within the Labour Party. 

Progressives want to mend, not end, the link

By Richard Angell - Labour List

Last week, I – and 2,000 others – were followed by a new Twitter account, Break the Link. Using Progress branding, it claims to represent the views of members of the organisation of which I am the director. It purports to be for those who want to sever Labour’s relationship with the unions.

However, I suspect that Break the Link – which was last active at the time when Aslef and the GMB were attempting to ban Progress – is actually a false flag: a none-too-subtle attempt to detract from our analysis of how Labour comes back from its devastating election defeat by painting Progress as somehow anti-union. Perhaps those behind Break the Link were also the authors of the anonymous dossier about Progress, full of smears and inaccuracies, which somehow found itself in the hands of every CLP secretary and many councillors in early 2012?

While a Twitter account followed by a couple of hundred people is hardly a threat to Progress and the politics we represent, it does symbolise the manner in which any debate or concern about the behaviour of some trade unions in the aftermath of the general election is being characterised as ‘anti-union’.

It’s nothing of the kind. In fact, the only person currently threatening to break the link is Len McCluskey – if he doesn’t get his way in the leadership election. It is somewhat galling that Labour is being subjected to lectures about what its true values should be by some a small cabal at the heart of Unite which seems to pick and choose when it will stand by them. If its outcome wasn’t so tragic, Len’s successful campaign to destabilise Jim Murphy in Scotland would have been laughable. While Jim was out fighting for the United Kingdom and the Scottish Labour party last summer, Unite chose to sit on its hands, refusing to back and, sniping at, the BetterTogether campaign. It was, of course, the momentum the Yes campaign generated during the referendum campaign which led to Labour’s implosion in Scotland in May.

And let’s not forget that, even after Lutfur Rahman was stripped of office, Unite’s chief of staff, Andrew Murray, rushed to support the disgraced Tower Hamlets mayor. While many might have hoped that Unite would be throwing its weight behind John Bigg’s election, Murray was busily addressing a rally supporting Rahman. In his speech, he made clear that: “I am not speaking in a personal capacity, I am speaking on behalf of the union … and I am sending a message of support from our general secretary, Len McCluskey. Unite is proud to associate ourselves with Lutfur Rahman.” But, then again, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised: Murray, the author of Unite’s political strategy which determines the union’s attitude towards Labour, isn’t even a member of the Labour party. He’s a member of the Communist party of Britain.

This behaviour is intolerable and there’s nothing ‘anti-union’ about saying so. Labour’s relationship with the trade unions cannot be determined by one man and one man cannot be the voice of a movement of 6.5 million people – especially a man with the mandate of just 9.7 per cent of his own members.

I disagree with those who suggest that Labour should treat the unions as just another lobby group. They’re not: the unions are an organic part of the Labour party. At their best, they’re our direct link between the party and millions of working people. And the unions have a right to play a role in shaping Labour’s direction. Indeed, it was the unions – through the St Ermin’s group – who played a critical role in dragging the Labour party back to sanity in the 1980s. To that extent, the unions not only founded the Labour party, they also stepped in to guarantee its very survival. Anyone who’s been out on the doorstep over the past six weeks knows, too, the commitment that trade unions and their members, both locally and nationally, put into helping to elect our Labour MPs.

That’s why it is so important that Labour maintains and builds its relationship with trade unionists.

As a former trade union official, I want to see hundreds of thousands of trade unionists taking part in the election of the next Labour leader. But it is critical that they have the chance to interact with all of those who are standing – rather than having their communication with candidates filtered and restricted because certain members of their union’s executive have decided who they want to win and thus who can and cannot talk with to their members.

I want to see the trade unions as part of the conversation about how Labour recovers, rebuilds and wins in 2020. But that conversation can’t be conducted while one trade union threatens to throw his toys out of the pram if he doesn’t get his way and the party doesn’t make what he believes to be “the right choice”.

And, when the time comes, I want to see Labour selecting parliamentary candidates who look more like Britain – especially many more working-class candidates. But that means more shopworkers, electricians and care workers, not simply more centrally chosen trade union officials, ‘rewarded’ for their service with a safe seat. And, we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow trade unionist as they and the Labour party come together to fight the Tories ideological attack on long-standing workers rights, to defend facilities time and support modernisation of the way industrial action ballots operate. For a party which is always lecturing us all about the need for our economy to move with the times, I cannot see the logic in their objection to online ballots to resolve work place disputes. In fact, their quick resolution is good for employers and employees alike.

So, as part of the debate about Labour’s future, let’s discuss what a modern link looks like. But let’s not get distracted by the myth that anyone who doesn’t share Len McCluskey’s view of it is anti-union. We’re not.

Warrior for Peace?

Robert Fisk specialise in writing columns which have one or two useful insights, but he always seems to give the western, secular countries a much harder time than the Islamic nations presiding over essentially feudal societies that are dominated by tribalism and religious values from the Dark Ages.

As in this piece for The Independent in which he suggests that Osama bin Laden might in actual fact have been a misunderstood 'warrior for peace'.

Now I've read a lot of guff in my time, but for the moment this has pride of place at the top of my pile.   

Suddenly it looks like we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive

Who’s left if we want to negotiate with Isis?

By ROBERT FISK - The Independent

What an old softee he was, compared to the throat-cutting killers of the “Islamic State”. The black-bannered executioners are back at work in Ramadi and Palmyra and yet, back from the dead, old bin Laden returns once more, fished out of the Indian Ocean (if he was ever there) for one final re-appearance. He loves his wife, he wants his son to take over the whole al-Qaeda outfit, he studies – if he can read English – Noam Chomsky.

Surely he’s a chap we could do business with, the “moderate” we are always searching for when we fail to destroy our enemies, a “middle party” to start a “dialogue” with these unruly Isis fellows. But the French, in their search for the “interlocuteur valable” who would chat to the FLN when de Gaulle chose to throw in the towel in Algeria, found they had already assassinated all their potential “interlocuteurs” – and we, goddammit, did the same with bin Laden. Having liquidated the Fountainhead of World Evil in 2011, we’ve no one left to represent us if we want to negotiate with the new Fountainhead of World Evil in 2015.


I have the suspicion we’re being fooled here. I’m puzzled about the CIA’s latest dip into the barrel of the collected works and thoughts of the Old Man of Abbottabad. Why now, so long after they released the first tranche of fascinating but occasionally boring tracts between bin Laden and his lads in Yemen, do they pop up with yet more bin Laden junk-mail? Because Seymour Hersh has just presented us with a more disturbing version of the bin Laden myth, in which the guy, after effectively falling under Pakistani intelligence control, was blown to bits by his American killers in Abbotabad – and some of those bits then thrown over the Hindu Kush? (The sea burial was a lie, according to Hersh).

Why were the new bin Laden videos silent? And why were some of these documents, like the previous set, actually censored – for which read the devious phrase “redacted” – by the CIA? The CIA feels it necessary to censor bin Laden? Weirdly, not a soul asked why. Journos waffled on about a “treasure trove”. I’m not so sure. What was it that the CIA knew and bin Laden knew – and which we mustn’t know?

My meetings with bin Laden – in 1993, 1996 and 1997 – long ago became an albatross for me, a piece of tat to hang on a reporter’s CV, as if talking to the man who would approve (if he did not plan) the international crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001, somehow makes history clearer. But I do recall how at our second meeting in 1996, he was obsessed by Saudi Arabia’s corruption, how its royal family had betrayed Islam – until I learned that the Saudis were still offering him – via a Saudi diplomat who visited him in Afghanistan – millions of dollars and the return of his passport if he “returned” to Riyadh.

And there’s an intriguing paragraph buried in Hersh’s version of events – or “counter-narrative”, as colleagues insist it be called – in which Hersh’s “retired official” source tells him that during the hunt for bin Laden, Saudi Arabia was a worrying factor because the Kingdom “had been financing bin Laden’s upkeep since his [post 9/11] seizure by the Pakistanis”. The Saudis, according to Hersh’s “retired official”, “feared…we would pressure the Pakistanis to let bin Laden start talking to us about what the Saudis had been doing with al-Qaeda. And they were dropping money – lots of it.”

I have too many questions about the latest bin Laden mail. We don’t know who translated this stuff, let alone who censored it. I don’t doubt the authenticity of some passages; the letter to his wife Khairiah Saber – mother of Hamza, whom bin Laden wished to be next leader of al-Qaeda – contains a moving paragraph about his desire to see her in the afterlife and to be her husband there again (even if she marries in the real world after his “martyrdom”). But the fear of US drone attacks – bin Laden’s only advice is to travel under cloudy skies – the forlorn and belated understanding that education is necessary for real revolution, and the determination to strike at the US rather than its Middle East puppets, does not suggest that the Abbottabad recluse was running a “terror” control centre.

So why is all this material coming piecemeal and truncated? The 103 letters, reports and videos released last week follow three years after the “Combating Terrorism Centre” at West Point’ released an earlier 175 pages of bin Laden chit-chat which was equally truncated and oddly translated. For example, when a bin Laden agent in Yemen sent his master a copy of an article of mine which described al-Qaeda as “the most sectarian organisation in the world”, the second half was translated by the Americans back from Arabic into English – with obvious deviations from the original English used in The Independent. But the first half was a straight “lift” from the paper with no attempt to translate from Arabic.

Now we’re told that even more documents from Abbottabad await “declassification”. From what do they have to be declassified? It’s one thing to “declassify” government information for the world to read – but to “declassify” bin Laden’s secrets for the world to read? What does this mean? Saudi material perhaps?

I won’t delve into the “porn” stash supposedly found at Abbottabad – which it took the CIA four years to watch before deciding not to release it. Is the organisation which waterboards victims and stuffs food up their rectums really so prissy? And then there are the books, Chomsky, Woodward & Co. Quite an English-language reading list – if bin Laden could read English. But when I met him in 1997, he could hardly speak a word. Did he have language tutors in Abbottabad? He did read Arabic-language books. Which of them were found by the Americans? Or did they contain too many works on Saudi Arabia?

Certainly the previous batch of mail suggested the old boy was prepared to contemplate negotiating with the Brits. Nothing to suggest this in the latest collection. Could he have been useful as a bridge to the “moderates” that we in the West will undoubtedly discover inside the abominable Isis? Oh, if we could only read the letters of the “Islamic State” archives. But maybe they would have to be censored, too. Which is why I can suggest at least one “interlocuteur valable” for Isis, despite bin Laden’s demise. Saudi Arabia.

Russia and FIFA

Instead of addressing the allegations of widespread corruption racketeering within FIFA, world football's governing body, Vladimir Putin's intervention seems designed to ward off further scrutiny of the process which led to Russia being awarded the 1918 World Cup.

Now the arrest of senior FIFA officials in Europe as well as America indicates that there is clear prima facie evidence of fraud on a very large scale which might be par for the course in Russia, yet is not an acceptable in parts of the world where large business and public bodes are required to conform to the highest standards of governance. 

Transparency and accountability may be a novel concept in Putin's Russia, but if Sepp Blatter is elected for another four-year term in the present climate, FIFA would become even more of a joke than it is today.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin accuses United States of ‘meddling’ over Fifa arrests

• ‘This is yet another blatant attempt to extend its jurisdiction to other states’
• Russian president says arrests are ‘clear attempt’ to stop Blatter re-election

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, with Sepp Blatter, believes the FBI's arrest of Fifa officials on Wednesday was a "blatant attempt to extend its jurisdiction to other states". Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/AP

By the Guardian sport and agencies

Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of meddling outside its jurisdiction by arresting officials from Fifa.

“This is yet another blatant attempt [by the United States] to extend its jurisdiction to other states,” the Russian president said on Thursday.

Putin added that the arrests were a “clear attempt” to prevent the re-election of Fifa head Sepp Blatter and that the Swiss had Russia’s backing.

“It looks very strange, the arrests are carried out on the request of the USA side,” he said.

“They are accused of corruption – who is? International officials. I suppose that someone broke some rules, I don’t know. But definitely, it’s got nothing to do with the USA. Those officials are not US citizens. If something happened it was not in the US and it’s nothing to do with them.

“It’s another clear attempt by the USA to spread its jurisdiction to other states. And I have no doubt – it’s a clear attempt not to allow Mr Blatter to be re-elected as president of Fifa, which is a great violation of the operating principles of international organisations. The US prosecutor, as our media report, has already said that those Fifa officials have committed a crime. As if the prosecutor didn’t know about the principle of the presumption of innocence.”

Citing former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, both of whom have evaded prosecution in the United States by hiding abroad, Putin questioned Washington’s right to request the Fifa officials’ extradition.

“Unfortunately, our American partners use such methods to achieve their selfish aims and illegally persecute people. I do not rule out that in the case of Fifa, it’s exactly the same,” Putin said.

Russia won the rights to stage the 2018 World Cup under Blatter’s auspices. That 2010 decision, along with the award to Qatar of the 2022 tournament, is the subject of a Swiss criminal investigation running parallel to the US action.

Things Go Better With (31/05/11)

Good to see Scotland supporting our neighbours in England.

As the English FA tries, albeit belatedly, to inject some openness and accountability into the world footballing association - FIFA.

The business of electing a new President stinks to high heaven with Sepp Blatter's only rival suspended and allegations of bribery and corruption swirling around delegates from different countries.

So the heat is turning up on the big World Cup sponsors, companies like Coca Cola, Adidas and Emirates Airlines who don't want their hard won reputations to be tarnished.

Let's hope the money men insist on getting a bigger bang for their bucks because the present situation is out of control and will only get worse, if FIFA doesn't mend its ways.

Modern public-facing, organisations should be prepared to act openly and transparently at all times.

If they don't, you know for sure, they have something to hide.