Monday, 31 August 2015

Rewriting History

A kind reader has sent me this completely ridiculous statement about the fight for equal pay in South Lanarkshire.

But who is responsible for writing this load of old tosh?

I promise to let you know tomorrow once I've managed to stop laughing at the notion that the author is trying to give a factual account of the trade unions role in relation to equal pay.

So far from being misquoted it seems to me that Unison is trying to rewrite history over its advice to members on pursuing what were, of course, perfectly valid equal pay claims against South Lanarkshire Council.

"Margaret, if you attended any of the meetings over the years or read any of our briefings you will know the history. We are often misquoted. It was not a case of "never" or "not entitled". Originally UNISON took claims in every other Council except SLC because SLC had the defence of a job evaluation scheme that in those days other Councils didn't have. That position was kept under review as equal pay issues and legal arguments evolved. In 2010 we wrote to all members inviting them to apply for a merit assessment & took cases against SLC thereafter, but not everyone who applied had a case that would win."

Now this really is a load of bollix and I'll explain why tomorrow once I've managed to compose myself. 

SLC Update (30/08/15)

I've received another rash of enquiries from readers in South Lanarkshire who are understandably very angry at the spineless behaviour of their trade unions on the subject of equal pay. 

Here's what I wrote on the blog site about the situation in South Lanarkshire following the success of A4ES in challenging the Council's pay arrangements in a long-running case at the Glasgow Employment Tribunal:

"In the meantime don’t be taken in by the ridiculous propaganda of the trade unions.

"For years the unions told council workers that they had no equal pay claims and they actively discouraged people from raising claims in South Lanarkshire. In effect the unions supported the council instead of standing up for their members.

"The concerns that the trade unions are voicing now are crocodile tears because if they were serious about protecting their members’ interests they would have lodged protective equal pay claims years ago. The unions did this in other councils, up to a point, but neglected the interests of members in South Lanarkshire. 

"So what they say now simply can’t be trusted." 

I've been told that the union members in South Lanarkshire are now gearing up to sue their own trade unions over the terrible advice they've received on equal pay until Action 4 Equality Scotland started to win the argument at the Employment Tribunals and with a landmark FOI judgement at the UK Supreme Court.

But we achieved this success by committing lots of time, effort and huge resources to the fight for equal pay in South Lanarkshire while the trade unions did not lift a finger to help.

Apparently trade union members are being supported by DM Legal Claims, a local Lanarkshire-based firm, in their fight for justice and if there's anything I can to do help, I'm more than happy to lend a hand.

Because the union reps in South Lanarkshire today are the same people, broadly speaking, who were 'in-charge' when the Council's equal pay scandal was unfolding and if you ask me, they should all hang their heads in shame.   

North Lanarkshire Update

Calling all GMB members in North Lanarkshire - remember to get to the GMB members tomorrow at the Kirkshaws Social Club in Coatbridge.

I've re-arranged my diary so I can get along.

So be there or be square!

NLC Update (27/08/15)

GMB members in North Lanarkshire have organised another meeting to discuss their ongoing campaign for equal pay, but this time some senior officials of the union have agreed to attend which is a big step forward, if you ask me.   

The details of the meeting are as follows:

Date - Tuesday 1st September 2015

Time - 3.30pm to 5.00pm

Venue - Kirkshaws Social Club, Coatbridge, ML5 5DN

I've been invited along as well and if I can juggle commitments in my diary, I certainly hope to drop by next Tuesday afternoon.

NLC Update (26/08/15)

Well the GMB members meeting in North Lanarkshire yesterday was certainly a lively affair with well over 40 people turning up, at only a few days notice.

The discussion focused on three main areas:
  • How did GMB members get into the mess they find themselves in today?
  • What is the current position in relation to North Lanarkshire Council and the Employment Tribunals?
  • What can members do if things drag on and the GMB fails to successfully amend their members claims, so that they can be settled on the same basis as the other claimants from Action 4 Equality Scotland, Fox and Partners Solicitors, Unison and Unite? 
In response to the invitation I issued on the blog site, two GMB representatives came along tot he Kirkshaws Social Club: Paul Grieve, a local union organiser and Douglas Japp, a solicitor with Digby Brown.

Paul had virtually nothing to say, of substance anyway, and although Douglas made a better fist of trying to answer people's questions and comments, it's still not clear why the GMB did not act much sooner to abandon the restriction on their members' claims to only 3 years.

So while Douglass was able to explain that the original '3 year' decision was down to a national policy of the GMB, there was no information about when this decision was made, who made the decision (within the GMB) and why the decision wasn't quickly reversed when the GMB realised that all the other claimant groups were challenging the very basis of North Lanarkshire's pay arrangements and the Council's job evaluation scheme.

As you would expect, many of those present had very strong opinions about the handling of their equal pay claims and made their views known to Douglas and Paul who agreed to take people's concerns back to GMB headquarters in Glasgow.

For me there are three key points to emerge from the meeting:
  • What is a realistic timescale for bringing this whole business to a conclusion?
  • Will the GMB give union members in North Lanarkshire a guarantee to compensate them for their financial loss, if the GMB fails to amend their claims from 3 years - to 8 years and 3 months?
  • If GMB members are left 'holding the baby' for the GMB's mistakes, can they sue their own union and its advisers over the handling of their equal pay claims?
I don't know the answer to the first two points, but if the GMB does not step up to the plate and accept responsibility for what's happened, then I would say union members need to consider other ways of holding their own union to account.  

Three final points.

The first is that senior GMB officials have finally agreed (after all this time) to attend a GMB members meeting in North Lanarkshire - I'll post the details on the blog site and an happy to go along as well, if I'm invited.

The second is that the timing (5pm) of yesterday's meeting did not suit the backshift GMB members, so if people want to arrange a meeting a little later in the evening I'm happy to attend.

Thirdly, there was some confusion surrounding the venue of yesterday's meeting at the Kirkshaws Social Club and quite a few GMB members who wanted to be present were told that there was no meeting taking place, apparently. So my apologies for that but there will be a 'next time', I suspect. 

Jezbollah Corbyn

Image result for conspiracy theorists + images

Jeremy Corbyn's 'jezbollah' tendencies have been laid bare with the revelation that the London Labour MP described Osama bin Laden's death as a "tragedy" in an interview with Iranian state television back in 2011. 

Apparently while speaking to the Iranian government's Press TV channel in 2011, Jezza said:

"This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy."

Now if you ask me, the attack on 9/11 was a terrible crime not a tragedy, cold-blooded murder on an industrial scale involving innocent civilians, people of all religious faiths and other with no religious convictions at all.  

Jeremy went on to portray himself a fully paid up member of the Conspiracy Party with comments suggesting that the US may have faked bin Laden's death:

"We can only guess that there is something fishy here. Either Bin Laden wasn’t there, therefore there has to be a story. Or, the pictures ... show something else​." 

Yet in less than two weeks time Jezbollah Corbyn will be unveiled as the next leader of the Labour Party and while that's funny in some ways it's also a very sad reflection on the scale of Labour's decline.

Murderer Brought to Justice (02/05/11)

The news that Osama Bin Laden has finally paid for his crimes will bring a sense of grim satisfaction to all - except the extreme religious warriors or 'jihadists' - who seek to follow in his footsteps.

The murder of thousands of innocent civilians - including many Muslims it should be recalled - in New York on 9/11 is the most obvious example of Bin Laden's casual disregard for human life.

Contrast that with the behaviour of US special forces earlier today - who spared the lives of Bin Laden's wives and children - as they stormed the 'safe' compound in which he was hiding in North Parkistan.

On a smaller scale and much nearer to home - a young British woman, a young Muslim - is facing the same poisonous cocktail of religious extremism, hatred and intolerence.

Shanna Bukhari is a young Muslim woman from Manchester - who hopes to be the first British entrant to win the Miss Universe competition.

Now you can say what you like about her ambition - but the point is that she has received death threats from Islamic extremists - for daring to take part in what amounts to a beauty/fashion show.

So what?

So did Kate Middleton when she was a student at St Andrews University - and no one batted an eyelid about the behaviour of the country's possible future queen.

To my mind a young woman like Shanna Bukhari represents the future of Islam - a future where young women have the right to be educated, hopeful and ambitious.

And that's the best answer of all - to vile murderers like Bin Laden.   

Labour in Wonderland

Image result for mad hatter's tea party + images

Tony Blair took careful aim at the politics of the Jeremy Corbyn the other day, with an opinion piece in The Observer, in which he characterised Labour's next leader as living in the political equivalent of Alice in Wonderland. 

At the heart of Tony Blair's case is the compelling argument that a majority of the electorate supported the Conservatives because they regarded Labour as hostile to business and because they believed Ed Miliband was not really up to the task of bringing the public finances under control.

In other words the voters rejected Labour not because Ed Miliband was an 'austerity-lite' version of David Cameron, but because Labour were not regarded as credible or tough enough on the big economic issues of the day.

And as Tony Blair points out the only left-wing government in Europe, led by Alexis Tsipras in Greece, has been forced to accept a bail-out package and programme of economic reforms which are significantly tougher than the policies of the previous Greek government that Syriza helped to eject in January 2015.   

Syriza, of course, has since split and has called new election in September with Prime Minister calling for a 'stronger mandate' to implement the reforms agreed in the bail-out package with the European Union.

Now that really is mad, about as mad as a Mad Hatter's tea party, if you ask me and you can read Tony Blair's article in full by following this link to The Observer.       

Only a Game!

Image result for mourinho and team doctor + images

I enjoyed this article from Private Eye, the UK's best and only fortnightly satirical magazine, in which a doctor writers about the the beautiful game and the fuss surrounding Jose Mourinho's spectacular falling with Team Chelsea's physician, Eva Corneiro. 

A Doctor Writes

As a doctor, I'm often asked, What the fuck you doing, you crazy woman?! Don't you know the rules of football?!

To which the simple answer is - "Calm down, Mr Mourinho, I'm just doing my job, and it's only a stupid game."

This situation arises when a player is injured on the pitch , requiring urgent medical attention, but the manager is more concerned about the flak he's going to get for dropping two points at home to Swansea.

What the manager is showing are symptoms of megalomaniacal neurosis or Oligarch Syndrome, which can end in the termination of one's contract, or if Polonium* is involved, something worse.

Side effects can include extreme misogyny, sulking in press conferences, and the refusal to admit you've down anything wrong.

So at the end of the day, if you wish to avoid being sick as a parrot, and want to feel over the moon again, simply take one game at a time, and before you know it, the boy's done good.   

@ Doctor

Polonium is, of course, the new centre back recently signed from Dynamo Moscow.

Laugh? I was in stitches though thankfully not of the medical kind.