Monday, 29 May 2017

Glasgow - Court of Session

The big news this bank holiday weekend is that the Court of Session will release the first part of its decision on the Glasgow equal pay cases tomorrow - Tuesday 30 May 2017.

As regular readers know, the appeal is in two parts and tomorrow's decision will focus on the 'pay protection' part of the claim; the A4ES-led challenge to Glasgow's job evaluation (JE) scheme and WPBR pay arrangements will follow in due course.

Now the decision is being released sooner than expected, certainly a lot earlier than at least one of the trade unions was predicting just days ago and as reported on the blog site previously the GMB union is not part of the appeal over the City Council's JE scheme and WPBR pay arrangements.

The implications of the Court's decision are explained in the two posts posts below and tomorrow promises to be a big day one way or the other.

So fingers crossed - I'll share the news on the blog as soon as I've had time to read and understand what the Court of Session has to say. 


Glasgow - Court of Session (25/05/17)

As regular readers know, two important appeals involving Glasgow City Council were heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh recently, ending on 4 May 2017 - the same day as the local elections.

The written decision of the court may be some time off, but here is my personal impression  of how things went and the big issues at stake.

Protection Period Claims

In the first part of the appeal the court heard about Glasgow’s pay protection arrangements and the City Council's commitment to maintain the earnings of former bonus earners at their previous levels via its Employee Development Commitment  (EDC) - without first of all bringing the pay of the women into line with the higher pay of the men.

The upshot being that when the WPBR was introduced in 2006/07 women workers were in a much less favourable financial position because their pay was thousands of pounds a year behind their bonus earning male comparators.

So before WPBR came into play a Home Carer on £12,000 (basic pay) and Grade MW5 was being paid much less than a Gravedigger on the lower grade of MW3 because bonus pay took his earnings to @£22,000 a year.

After the WPBR a Home Carer and Gravedigger ended up on the same PESB 3 Grade, but a Gravedigger’s earnings remained at @£22,000 while the Home Carer’s increased to only @£15,000.

So, the effect of WPBR was to preserve the higher, bonus-related pay of male comparator jobs - rather than to substantially improve the lot of the women’s jobs which had been undervalued and underpaid for many years.

The trade unions seemed to share this objective and a Council minute of December 2006 confirms that the unions threatened strike action in support of maintaining the earnings of the male dominated ‘red circled’ jobs.

Yet strike action was never threatened over the demand for 'equal pay for work of equal value' which would have brought the pay of Glasgow's women workers (the majority of the workforce) into line with the higher earnings of their male comparators.

If the 'protection part' of the Court of Session case is upheld, this will extend the period of people's second wave equal pay claims until at least 2009, i.e. until the pay preservation arrangements for the male comparator jobs came to an end.

Glasgow's Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) 

The judges spent a lot of time trying to get their heads round the rationale behind the WPBR which is Glasgow’s name for its own ‘in-house’ job evaluation (JE) scheme and associated pay arrangements.

Glasgow did not use the Gauge JE scheme which had been developed alongside the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement and which was recommend for use across Scotland by CoSLA (the employers umbrella body) and the national trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite).

For some reason, Glasgow City Council decided to call in an external consultant to work up its own ‘in-house’ scheme based on one previously used in Greater London. Even more bizarrely, the trade unions in Glasgow went along with the council’s plans without putting up any resistance.

If you ask me, the local trade unions lacked the expertise and knowledge required to deal with a completely new JE scheme and let their low paid members down because local union reps were completely out of their depth.

Core Pay and Job Evaluation

The judges had difficulty in grasping the different elements of Glasgow’s WPBR which were explained as Core Pay (Basic Pay), a separate payment for Working Context and Demands (WCD) and another payment for Non-Standard Working Pattern (NSWP) - the latter replacing shift payments or unsocial hours pay.

Only the Core Pay element related directly to objective job evaluation criteria which assessed different jobs on the basis of their skills and responsibilities, using a combination of factors and weightings, before awarding a new Grade and a place on the pay ladder.

WCD and NSWP relied upon new local ‘rules’ determined by the City Council (with input from the trade unions), but many of these were drawn in such a way as to deliver a desired outcome. For example, the arbitrary rule that says only employees working 37 hours can receive 7 (working hours) points under the NSWP element of the scheme - which was worth £800  a year in 2006 (see posts below).

The effect of WCD and NSWP allowed the City Council to maintain the higher pay of former bonus earning groups beyond the original 3 year protection period, even though these two elements of pay were not related to the grade of the job. 

In other words, having gone to all the trouble of introducing a objective JE scheme with evaluation criteria based on the skills and responsibilities of people's jobs, the City Council created another set of 'rules' which disproportionately benefited the former bonus earning male groups.

If the challenge to the Glasgow JE scheme succeeds, the WPBR will fall away and the result is that women doing work of 'equal value' to the men will be entitled to the same pay as their male comparators - both up until now (from 2006/07) and going forward from 2017. 

A successful challenge to the WPBR will also open the door to a whole raft of new claims in addition to those from existing A4ES clients. 
NB The GMB union did not support the A4ES led challenge to Glasgow's WPBR at the recent appeal hearing in the Court of Session. The GMB has restricted its claims to the protection period only. 

Court of Session Decision

The next steps in the fight for equal pay in Glasgow will hinge on the decision of the Court of Session. If the written judgment favours the claimants, Glasgow City Council will find itself in a similar position to North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire councils.

So fingers crossed and watch this space.  


Glasgow's Pay Arrangements (06/04/17)

A Home Carer from Glasgow has been in touch to say that she (and many others) work a 50 hour week and a 20 hour week the week week, so why don't they qualify for a NSWP payment in Week 1 at least?

Now that's a good question because fairness and common sense would suggest that such a shift working arrangement would qualify for an NSWP payment at Level B for at least half the year, perhaps more if overtime hours were also taken into account.

But I'm pretty sure that Glasgow City Council interprets these 'cockamamy rules' in a way that is to the disadvantage of Home Carers by treating the 2 weeks as a 35-hour average so that the staff concerned receive no payment. 

My own view is that the NSWP working hours payment ought to be paid on a 'pro rata' basis like other pay related benefits such as sick, holiday pay and sick pay - that way all Home Carers on a 35 hour working week would receive 35/37ths (or 95%) of a Level B NSWP payment.

The trade unions should be on to this as well if you ask me, because you don't have to work 37 hours before becoming eligible to join a union or to take part in a union strike ballot.

The real problem is that Glasgow City Council has just invented these 'cockamamy rules' which are impossible to justify as they go against the spirit and letter of the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement which is based on equal treatment for part-time workers.


Cockamamy Council 'Rules' (05/04/17) 

As regular readers know, Action 4 Equality Scotland is challenging various aspects of Glasgow's WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review) which the City Council introduced back in 2006/07.

One of the most controversial aspects of the WPBR scheme is over additional payments that are made under the heading of NSWP (Non Standard Working Pattern) payments.

I wrote previously on the blog site about how the Glasgow's predominantly female jobs seem to fare badly under the WPBR compared to their male colleagues, and this is also true when it comes to NSWP payments. 

Because one of the NSWP 'rules' is a requirement for employees to work 37 hours before they qualify for 7 'working hours' NSWP points.

Now points mean prizes under the WPBR and 7 NSWP points means that a 37 hour a week employee qualifies for Level B Payment which was worth £800 a year in 2006 - almost £10,000 over 12 years - and a whole lot more than people have been receiving in terms of annual pay increases, for example.

So who made up this barmy 'rule' and on what kind of twisted logic is this NSWP rule based?

Because it's completely crazy if you ask me - people don't have to work 37 hours to qualify for holiday pay, sick pay, or maternity pay - for example.

And can it really be a coincidence that the vast majority of Glasgow City Council employees who work less than 37 hours a week are women? 

Curiously all of Glasgow's hardworking Home Carers were placed on 35 hour a week contracts some years ago, so they miss out on a Level B Payment even though they work 95% of a 37 hour working week.

The 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement was supposed to ensure equal treatment for part-time workers, but that seems not to have happened in Glasgow where mysterious rules have been invented (by whom?) to exclude the council's lowest paid workers.

As far as I know the trade unions in Glasgow haven't called or even threatened a single strike to defend the rights of thousands of part-time workers affected by this cockamamy 'rule' which is a complete disgrace, if you ask me.

Because if points are to be awarded for hours worked, they should be pro-rated just like all other payments and benefits - not deliberately designed in such a way that treats women workers much less favourably than their male colleagues. 

No wonder the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council can't defend his party's position over equal pay, but readers are invited to drop Frank McAveety a note by email or Twitter and let him know what you think.

Email -

Twitter - @FMcAveety


Court of Session (30/01/17) 

The Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, has set the following dates to deal with the outstanding equal pay claims against Glasgow City Council.  
  • 25th to 27th April 2017 - a three day hearing on the pay protection and assimilation period
  • 2nd to 5th May 2017 - four days focusing on the City Council's job evaluation scheme, also known locally as the WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review)
Now the timing could not be better if you ask me with the elections to Glasgow City Council taking place on Thursday 4th May 2017.

My message to the Labour leaders of Glasgow City Council is to come clean and explain the pay arrangements that were put in place after the introduction of its local job evaluation scheme (WPBR) in 2006/07.

So if Frank McAveety and his colleagues don't have the political will to resolve then issue, then step aside and make way for those who do. 


Hairdos and Hypocrites

Damien Counsell () onTwitter mocks Labour's Diane Abbott on Twitter with the following tweet:

"This is me when I had an afro but still didn't support the IRA."

Well said, if you ask me.


A Question of Character (28/05/17)

Diane Abbott is one of Jeremy Corbyn's closest supporters and on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme earlier today Ms Abbott confirmed that the Labour leadership is completely unfit to govern the country.

The current Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, had the perfect riposte to Diane Abbott's idiotic comments when she said:

"What I would say to Diane Abbott is I have changed my hairstyle a few times in 34 years as well, but I have not changed my view about how we keep the British public safe."

As Andrew Marr said it is good to look forward, but we also need to look back and understand where people come from - to know their history and their character. 


Rewriting History (27/05/17)

Image result for rewriting history

All politicians tell 'porky pies' during election campaigns - Donald Trump is probably the most shameless example of all, but if you ask me Jeremy Corbyn is giving him a run for his money with this blatant re-writing of history over Corbyn's many years of support for the 'armed struggle' in Northern Ireland.

Like many other politicians Jeremy Corbyn seems perfectly willing to eat his own words and deny his own history in pursuit of a political prize. 

Read the following piece from Politics Home and the one below by Ruth Dudley Edwards in The Belfast Telegraph.

EXCL Jeremy Corbyn: The IRA were terrorists and their bombing campaign was wrong

By Kevin Schofield and Sebastian Whale

Jeremy Corbyn has said he believes the IRA were terrorists and their bombing campaign during the Troubles was wrong.

Jeremy Corbyn at a campaign event in Hull this morning - Credit: PA Images

The Labour leader's office also insisted that neither he or John McDonnell believe the British Army were "equivalent participants" in the conflict.

Labour bosses clarified the views of the senior party figures after being challenged to do so by the Conservatives.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire issued five questions to Mr Corbyn and the Shadow Chancellor following several days of controversy over their views on violent Republicanism.

It came after the Labour leader repeatedly failed to unequivocally condemn the IRA during an interview on Sky News.

PoliticsHome passed Mr Brokenshire's questions to Mr Corbyn's team, who issued the following response.

1) Should the IRA’s acts of murder be condemned unequivocally?


2) Were the IRA terrorists?

"Yes. The IRA clearly committed acts of terrorism."

3) Mr McDonnell said last week that ‘no cause is worth an innocent life’. Do he and Mr Corbyn include within their definition of innocent life members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and members of the Armed Forces, for example the 18 soldiers murdered at Warrenpoint in 1979?

"Yes. All loss of life is tragic, as John McDonnell has said."

4) Do Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell regard members of the Armed Forces and the IRA as ‘equivalent’ participants during the troubles?


5) If they are unable unequivocally to condemn IRA terrorism, do they actually believe that the IRA campaign, or as they would put it ‘armed struggle’, was both justified and legitimate?

"Jeremy has said that the he was opposed to the IRA's armed campaign."

A spokesman for Mr McDonnell said: "This is a contemptible effort to take John’s comments out of context. He was clearly describing the tragic loss of all life. It is deeply worrying that we have a Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who clearly doesn’t take his job seriously, when he is more interested in playing party politics with the peace process at a time when Stormont is without a working government."

Mr Corbyn this morning praised the "bravery" of nationalists and unionists who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.

The Labour leader said it was important to recognise that both Republicans and Unionists had "walked a very difficult extra mile" to bring about the Good Friday Agreement.

He said: "We have devolved administration in Northern Ireland and I think we should recognise that that peace was achieved by a lot of bravery, both in the unionist community as well as in the nationalist community, people that walked a very difficult extra mile when they were under pressure from their communities not to do so.

"Both Republicans and Unionists, walked that extra mile and brought us the Good Friday Agreement.

"I think we should use this election as thanking those that brought about the Good Friday Agreement, all of them. Those in government at the time as well all those that did so much on the ground."

The Belfast Telegraph

Jeremy Corbyn's three decades of comfort and aid to the Provisionals

The Labour leader is haemorrhaging traditional supporters among the armed forces. Given his views on Northern Ireland, is it any wonder, asks Ruth Dudley Edwards.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has a long history of sympathising with Irish republicans

The other day, on a London radio station, I heard a furious man denouncing the government, after which the interviewer said: "So, you'll be voting Labour, then?"

The chap almost exploded. "I will not! I was a squaddie."

It was one of the encouraging indications that England hasn't forgotten the IRA and that journalists have begun to do their duty and remind people how Jeremy Corbyn gave them aid and comfort.

When Mr Corbyn became MP for Islington North in 1983, he was already an important figure in pro-IRA circles, such as the Troops Out movement and the Labour Committee on Ireland (LCI), and was on the editorial board of the Trotskyist political magazine London Labour Briefing (LLB).

These groups had no time for any Northern Ireland political parties other than Sinn Fein.

A few weeks after the 1983 Harrods bombing that killed six people, Mr Corbyn flew to Northern Ireland to meet Danny Morrison, famous for having asked a Sinn Fein ard fheis in 1981: "Will anyone here object if, with a ballot paper in one hand and an Armalite in this hand, we take power in Ireland?"

Troops Out marched for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of British soldiers. To the more political LCI, Northern Ireland was a colony, SDLP voters were "cannon-fodder ... manipulated and directed by a sophisticated management caucus" and, in the words of activist Diane Abbott - Mr Corbyn's one-time lover - unionists were an "enclave of white supremacist ideology".

LLB surpassed all of them by praising the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the October 1984 Conservative Party conference.

The objective had been to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and as many members of her Cabinet as possible in revenge for her refusal to capitulate to the demands of the hunger strikers three years earlier.

Five people died and 31 were injured, some of whom were disabled for life.

The LLB editorial had described it as a "serious political misjudgment", but this was utterly disowned in the next issue by the editorial board - of which Mr Corbyn was now general secretary.

He had already made his feelings clear by flaunting Gerry Adams in the House of Commons as his guest.

"We refuse to parrot the ritual condemnation of 'violence', because we insist on placing responsibility where it lies," said the LLB retraction.

"Let our 'Iron Lady' know this: those who live by the sword shall die by it. If she wants violence, then violence she will certainly get."

The only answer was "an unequivocal British withdrawal, including the disarming of the RUC and UDR".

The editorial board also allowed some light-hearted contributions. "What do you call four dead Tories? A start," was one of the rejoicing readers' letters.

The Provisional IRA were fast becoming Mr Corbyn's new best friends.

In 1986, he was arrested for obstruction at a Troops Out rally outside the Old Bailey, called "to show solidarity with the Irish republican prisoners put on trial by the British State".

These included Patrick Magee - the Brighton bomber - and Martina Anderson (now an MLA and then described by the judge as a "hard, cynical young woman... at the centre of the plot") and four other "comrades" arrested when planning a bombing campaign in 13 English towns.

Mr Corbyn and Ms Anderson would be reunited in 2007, when they both spoke at a meeting organised by the Islington North Labour Party.

From 1986 to 1992, Mr Corbyn spoke annually at Sands/Connolly (Bobby and James) commemorations in London to show support for IRA "prisoners of war" and remember the IRA dead. He would pop up frequently at protest meetings honouring "martyrs", like the dead of Loughgall in 1987, sometimes alongside his comrade the Marxist Leninist Trotskyite John McDonnell, an MP from 1997, who in 2003 said publicly: "It's about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle... The peace we now have is due to the action of the IRA."

At one such event, held in 1988, a week after the IRA murdered three British servicemen in the Netherlands, where the programme said "only force of arms... could bring about a free and united socialist Ireland," Mr Corbyn attacked the Anglo-Irish Agreement, because it "strengthened the border".

Having unexpectedly, in September 2015, become Labour Party leader, Mr Corbyn and friends have sometimes felt it necessary to misrepresent what are now rather embarrassing aspects of their past.

I've heard two supporters on radio recently claim that his arrest in 1987 had nothing to do with the IRA, but was at an event demanding the release of Nelson Mandela.

Confronted with embarrassing evidence that they had no difficulty in endorsing an organisation who murdered hundreds of soldiers, police and ordinary trade unionists, along with many others, messrs Corbyn and McDonnell claim they were all the time working to bring about peace and save lives.

Emily Thornberry, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said piously on TV: "I don't think that people should judge Jeremy for trying to talk to people who might be open to a settlement in Northern Ireland."

He did no such thing. He talked only to the representatives of, or sympathisers with, republican killers.

Indeed, Corbyn and McDonnell were no fans of the peace process ("the settlement must be for a united Ireland," Mr McDonnell said early in 1998), though they came to heel when told to do so by the Sinn Fein leadership.

Throughout his adult life, Mr Corbyn has supported pretty well any revolutionaries as long as they're anti-American, but the IRA - unlike his country's forces of law, order and defence - has a special place in his heart.

Now he aspires to be Prime Minister, Mr McDonnell is shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Ms Abbott is shadow Home Secretary.

Is it any wonder that squaddies are so sickened that veterans are putting signs in their windows telling Labour canvassers to stay away?

Toddler Trump

Donald Trump's inability or unwillingness to join other world leaders on their stroll through Taormina in Sicily has been mocked on Twitter.

America's president had to use a golf buggy instead of joining Justin Trudeau of Canada,  Emmanuel Macron of France and UK Prime Minister Theresa May on their 'walkabout' during the G7 Summit.

But in this photo Toddler Trump is in a 'push cart' while German Chancellor Angela Merkel leads the way.    


Ha ha ha....... (28/05/17)

As expected Donald Trump proclaims his first foreign trip abroad as a 'yuge' success, but Business Insider and the internet beg to differ.

I have to say I found it particularly pleasing that the new kid on the block (Emmanuel from France), got the better of Trump in his now familiar 'battle pf the handshakes'.


Trump Trumped (26/05/17)

Donald Trump seems to have meet his match in the 'handshake wars' if this recent encounter with the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, is anything to go by.


Masonic Handshake? (13/02/17)

Is Donald Trump a Freemason? 

I have to admit I don't know, but he's certainly got a really weird handshake - one which seems to terrify the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe who is clearly very relieved once Trump finally releases his grip.