Thursday, 26 March 2009

Equality Watchdog Investigates Glasgow

Scotland’s equality watchdog (The Equality and Human Rights Commission) has launched a formal investigation into whether Glasgow City Council has acted in breach of the Equal Pay Act 1970.

This is a major development and is the first formal investigation into local government pay in the UK.

The Commission is embarking on an investigation because it has grounds to suspect that Glasgow City Council has acted in breach of the Equal Pay Act in developing and implementing its Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR).

The Commission intends to

1. Identify the grades and all associated rates of pay for men and women – prior to the introduction of WPBR in September 2006
2. Identify the grades and all associated rates of pay for men and women – after the implementation of WPBR (as at 31 October 2008).
3. Use this information to determine whether male jobs have received more favourable treatment

Welcoming the announcement, Mark Irvine said:

“The Commission is to be congratulated for taking this stand. Glasgow City Council promised to end pay discrimination against female dominated jobs in 1999, but the council did nothing for several years until Action 4 Equality Scotland and Stefan Cross began explaining the rights of women council workers to pursue an equal pay claim to the Employment Tribunals”.

“Glasgow was finally forced to act, but in the process the council abandoned the nationally recommended job evaluation scheme (developed with £250,000 of public money) and introduced its own ‘in-house’ scheme (WPBR). The Commission now plans to scrutinise the WPBR and has asked Stefan Cross Solicitors to help with their investigation in view of the 5,000 claims Stefan Cross is pursuing against Glasgow”.

“Action 4 Equality Scotland has consistently highlighted the failings of Glasgow’s WPBR. We believe the WPBR treats many male workers more favourably than female groups – to the tune of thousands of pounds a year. The unions have been silent on the issue for the last 3 years, so it’s great news for women workers that the Equality Commission now intends to shine a light on what’s been going on in Glasgow”, added Mr Irvine.

NB
See previous posts on the Glasgow WPBR - ‘Points Mean Prizes’ and ‘Task and Finish’.

Fife Council - GMF Hearing

The GMF hearing involving Fife Council is getting underway next Monday (30 March 2009), as planned, but this is now taking place at the Employment Tribunal office in Dundee, details of which are:

Dundee Employment Tribunal Office
Ground Floor
Block C
Caledonian House
Greenmarket
Dundee
DD1 4QX


Hearings normally begin at around 10am until 1pm - and then again from 2pm until 4pm - but times can vary.

Hearings are held in public - so anyone can attend - but if you do go along, introduce yourself to Carol Fox who will be there on behalf of Stefan Cross Solicitors.

Monday, 23 March 2009

GMB letter

GMB Scotland is the latest trade union to attack Stefan Cross – they have written to all their members with a lot of alarmist stories about unenforceable contracts – and why don’t people just let the GMB handle their equal pay claim.

Now, you might ask why the GMB wasn't busy writing letters to all of its members in Scotland years ago – explaining the size of the pay gap between male and female workers?

And that’s because the GMB was not really interested in equal pay – until Action 4 Equality Scotland and Stefan Cross came along.

So, now they’re mad at Stefan Cross for making the GMB appear flat-footed and far too cosy with the council employers – hence the reason for their latest letter.

But there’s really nothing to get excited or anxious about – everyone who has a claim that is already registered with Stefan Cross can safely ignore the GMB’s letter and its belated offer of help.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Scottish Parliament - Evidence (3)

Present Position

16) Most of Scotland’s councils have now introduced new (Single Status) pay and grading structures following a local job evaluation (JE) exercise, as required by the 1999 Red Book national agreement. Edinburgh and Midlothian are two councils where the JE exercise is still outstanding, but in the meantime other difficulties have come to the fore.

17) Glasgow City Council and South Lanarkshire Councils have both introduced their own ‘in-house’ JE schemes whose provenance and implementation is at odds with the nationally recommended (Gauge) scheme. Glasgow’s JE scheme rewards full-time workers over part-time workers, who are largely women, while South Lanarkshire has claimed that its scheme was externally validated by the EOC – but external scrutiny by the EOC never took place.

18) The implementation of job evaluation has also caused a great controversy in other areas. North Lanarkshire Council balloted the workforce on its proposals, but the council implemented their scheme without agreement despite an overwhelming NO vote. Likewise in Fife where the workforce again rejected the council’s plans, despite trade union support.

19) So, Scotland’s five largest councils all continue to grapple with major issues and problems when it comes to single status and equal pay – but the two things are not the same. Single Status is a national agreement, key elements of which (e.g. job evaluation) are not mandatory; whereas equal pay is about equal treatment under the law. The legal route has obvious attractions if collective negotiations fail.

20) The present position across Scotland is that Action 4 Equality Scotland and Stefan Cross represent 11,706 local authority claimants as at March 2009 - although some have reached an interim settlement all of these individuals have ongoing claims.


Part 4 to follow

Scottish Parliament - Evidence (2)

1999 Onwards

10) Having adopted its own Single Status Agreement in 1999, the trade unions and council employers had committed themselves to a timetable of 3 years for introducing a completely new and non-discriminatory Job Evaluation scheme.

11) The proposed vehicle for this task (Gauge) was a bespoke JE scheme, one chosen deliberately and only after the employers spent £250,000 of public money road testing the scheme to ensure it was fit for purpose. All 32 Scottish councils supported the Red Book national agreement and development of the Gauge JE scheme – with larger councils paying more on a per capita (employee) basis.

12) The Gauge scheme was based on clear, transparent principles and agreed to adopt the Code of Good Practice from the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), as well as rigorous statistical techniques for analysing and assessing pay outcomes – i.e. the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pay outcomes in terms of key male and female job groups.

13) For reasons only the employers’ can explain, councils began dragging their feet – the original 2002 deadline came and went, only to be replaced by a 2 year extension until 2004. By then the original agreement had been allowed to drift and there was no sign of either the trade unions or the local authority employers having the political will to tackle the widespread pay discrimination – which they had both promised to sweep away in 1999.

14) In August 2005, Action 4 Equality Scotland and Stefan Cross Solicitors began to explain the size of the pay gap and the right of women workers to pursue an equal pay claim under the law. At first, councils insisted that they had no equal pay issues, but that changed very quickly as one council after another tried to ‘buy-out’ the equal pay claims of their female employees with one-off cash sums. The employers refused to explain the basis of their offers, but often they were worth less than 50% of the real value of people’s claims. Around this time, COSLA issued a National Framework Agreement under Scottish Joint Council SJC/22 which recognised there were ‘many valid equal pay claims in the workforce’.

15) The behaviour of the Scottish employers, individually and collectively, should be considered in the context of a period of substantial funding growth - council budgets effectively doubled over the 10 years up to 2007/08. Yet no effective planning had taken place on how to deliver upon the historic commitment to equal pay in 1999.


Part 3 to follow

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Male Workers in South Lanarkshire Council

Following our recent series of meetings – what’s fast becoming clear is that many male workers in South Lanarkshire Council are getting a raw deal – not just the female workers.

Why?

Because according to many of the men – there are actually two categories of male council worker in South Lanarkshire:

1. Those employed before Single Status was introduced in April 2004
2. Those that joined the council after Single Status in April 2004

What the men say is that the male workers in post before Single Status – had their old bonus related earnings preserved on a personal basis – permanently – and without limit of time.

Now this would explain why two male workers doing exactly the same job – can end up on very different rates of pay.


Or, worse still – why many lower graded male workers get paid more than their higher graded colleagues – simply because they were already working for the council in 2004.

So, in South Lanarkshire – all men are equal - it’s just that some are more equal than others. The council says it is an equal opportunities employer, of course.

Action 4 Equality Scotland and Stefan Cross are challenging South Lanarkshire’s Job Evaluation (JE) scheme and pay and grading structure – because we believe it is unfair and discriminatory.

The challenge is being fought mainly on behalf female workers within the council – but if that challenge is successful, many of the male workers stand to benefit as well.

The truth is that the more favourable treatment of male workers who were in post before 2004 – is a breach of the 1999 Single Status Agreement.

In 1999 the Scottish employers – including South Lanarkshire Council – signed up to an agreement which required one common set of conditions for all staff – not special treatment for those and such as those.

Action 4 Equality Scotland is happy to meet with male workers who find themselves in this position – if you would like to arrange a meeting, phone us on 0845 300 3 800 or drop Mark Irvine an e-mail at: markirvine@compuserve.com



Monday, 16 March 2009

Scottish Parliament - Evidence (1)

Background

1) The right to equal pay is enshrined in the Equal Pay Act 1970, but almost 40 years later the pay gap between traditional male and female jobs is still huge (22% on average) - even in the public sector where trade union organisation is relatively strong. Clearly, something is badly wrong and has been for many years.

2) During the 1970’s and 80’s some progress was made in tackling the problem. In 1987/88 a new job evaluation (JE) scheme was introduced in local government which aimed to give many female dominated jobs a better deal.

3) The scheme was restricted to manual workers only, but many predominantly female jobs benefited – for the first time a Home Carer or Cook, for example, was placed on a higher basic grade than a Refuse Collector – MW 5 compared to MW 2 for the male job.

4) But the manual workers JE scheme did not address the issue of hidden bonuses, paid only to male jobs and often worth 50% or more on top of their basic pay. So, while it looked as if the Home Carer had caught up with the male workers’ pay, this was just an illusion.

5) So, the fight carried on into the 1990’s. The unions adopted an agreed strategy that set out to end the old divide between ‘blue’ and ‘white’ workers by delivering a new and common set of conditions of service for all council workers – this became known as Single Status.

6) The strategic goal of the trade unions (Single Status) was shared, at the time, by the local government employers – not least because the trade unions had a Plan B. The trade unions made it clear to the employers that litigation in the Employment Tribunals was a viable option, if the collective bargaining machinery failed to deliver the intended outcome.

7) For their part, councils accepted that thousands of female workers had valid equal pay claims, as a result of the long standing practice of paying hidden bonuses, but only to traditional male jobs. The employers conceded they had no real defence to such claims, which is evidenced by their rush to make settlement offers (albeit poor offers) in 2005/06.

8) Equal pay was always at the heart of the Single Status agenda and, of course, everyone agreed with aim of achieving equal pay, but years of difficult and detailed negotiations followed before a new national UK agreement was finally reached in 1997.

9) Scotland modified and, arguably, strengthened the original UK agreement with its own Single Status (Red Book) Agreement in 1999. The Red Book took Scotland out of the UK negotiating machinery and included a clear timetable for implementing the new national agreement plus a nationally recommended job evaluation (JE) scheme, which was regarded as the key to resolving the long-standing gender inequalities in pay.

Part 2 to follow

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Direct and Care

Direct and Care staff in Glasgow continue to report that managers are putting people under pressure to accept changes in their contracts – before the TUPE transfer to Cordia goes ahead in April 2009.

See previous posts dated 1 and 5 March. Our advice is very simple and to the point:

Don’t give in to Direct and Care

Managers can’t impose these changes – no matter what they say.

If they approach you – insist they put their request in writing.

Keep a note of what managers say at any meetings you attend.

Insist on your right to be accompanied – by a work colleague or union rep.

Insist managers put their request on the record – that way it can’t be denied at a later date.

The TUPE Regulations mean that your existing contract has to be transferred across to Cordia intact.

It is unlawful for either Direct and Care or Cordia to interfere with your existing contract.

Contact your trade union for help – insist that the union gets involved to protect your interests.

Make it clear you will complain to your local councillor.

If you don’t give in – managers cannot impose changes to your current contract of employment.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Glasgow and Low Pay

Glasgow City Council seems to be coming round to Action 4 Equality Scotland’s way of thinking – by agreeing (albeit belatedly) - that many jobs done by female workers are undervalued and underpaid.

Steven Purcell, the council leader, announced a pay increase for at least some of the council’s lowest paid workers – but chose the Scottish Labour party conference to break the news.

So, what’s going on?

Mr Purcell says that it is ‘unacceptable’ that almost one in five of Glasgow's workers are paid less than £7 an hour.

The council can only enforce the new minimum wage on staff it directly employs, but Mr Purcell hopes that other employers in the city will follow suit.

The council intends to work with employers in the public, private and voluntary sector to encourage them to pay low-paid workers a decent wage – apparently.

The council says that the pay increase will apply to around 681 employees – which is all rather odd – because there must be a lot more than 681workers in the council who are currently paid less than £7.00 per hour.

Direct and Care alone employs around 9,000 staff – and most of the cleaners and many of the catering workers will be on less than £7.00 an hour.

So where do the 681 workers come from – what jobs do they do – and why does the announcement not apply council-wide?

By choosing to break the news at the Scottish Labour party conference - the council leader was engaging in a bit of good old-fashioned party politicking.

But has council jumped before it gets pushed – due to the mounting problems with the WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review)?

Because as we’ve reported before – see posts dated 9 and 18 February 2009 – the WPBR treats part-time workers (mainly women) less favourably than full-time workers (mainly men) – which we believe to be discriminatory.

So, maybe the council is simply facing up to the inevitable.

Whatever happens, Glasgow’s WPBR is coming under increasing scrutiny – and if Action 4 Equality Scotland is correct - there are a lot more than 681 workers in Glasgow who deserve a better deal.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Scottish Parliament and Equal Pay

Yesterday (Wednesday 11 March), Action 4 Equality Scotland gave detailed evidence on Equal Pay - to the Local Government and Communities Committee of the Scottish Parliament.

We plan to post our written evidence on the Action 4 Equality Scotland blog site - but as it runs to 5 pages, we will do this in installments over the next week or so - to make it easier for people to read

Action 4 Equality Scotland's evidence was well received by MSP's - and we intend to follow this up in further discussions - locally and nationally.

We are also happy to send our written evidence to any of our readers - who would like to request a copy by e-mail. If so, drop a note to Mark Irvine at: markirvine@compuserve.com

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Glasgow GMF Hearing

A GMF hearing involving Glasgow City Council gets underway next week – and is scheduled for 10 days - this is a public hearing and Glasgow claimants are welcome to attend.

The hearing is taking place at the Glasgow Employment Tribunal Office (details below) which is 10 minutes walk from Central Station – west along Bothwell Street towards Finnieston.

Glasgow Employment Tribunal Office

Eagle Building
215 Bothwell Street
Glasgow
G2 7TS

Phone: 0141 204 0730
Fax: 0141 204 0732
Email: glasgowet@ets.gsi.gov.uk

It’s not possible to predict things accurately in advance – but the Stefan Cross evidence is likely to be heard in Week 1 – i.e. during week beginning Monday 16 March 2009.

Tribunal hearings normally run from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4.30pm – but if you want to sit in on the hearing, you don’t need to stay for the whole day’s session.

Anyone attending should make themselves known to Carol Fox who will be there on behalf of Stefan Cross Solicitors.

Even More Snakes and Ladders

Schools have a hierarchy when it comes to pay – just like any other workplace.

The Head Teacher is at the top – and the bottom rung of the pay ladder is always occupied by the school cleaner – normally a woman on part-time hours.

In between a variety of jobs exist – some better paid than others - but there is always some kind of rationale to explain who gets what and why.

So, a support worker is always paid less than a teacher – for example.

But what about the pay hierarchy amongst support workers – the non-teaching staff – how does that work?

Very oddly – like a lot of things in South Lanarkshire.

For example - a School Janitor which used to be (before Single Status) a predominantly male, Manual Worker Grade 5 job – gets paid up to SCP 33 = £9.37 an hour (at 2007/08 rates).

Yet a Classroom Assistant or School Secretary is paid between SCP 1 – 25 = £5.81 to £8.31 an hour (again at 2007/08 rates).

Even a Team Leader gets paid less than the School Janitor – because their pay scale only goes up to a maximum of £8.69 per hour.

And, as usual, many of the women’s jobs are not paid at the top of their scale.

Now no one is saying that a School Janitor does not do an important job – but how on earth can he be on a significantly higher grade and rate of pay than a Classroom Assistant or a School Secretary?

It simply beggars belief – and the female workers in South Lanarkshire should be kicking up a fuss – with their line managers, councillors and trade unions.

Because something’s not right here – no one understands the basis on which other jobs within the council are paid – many of the traditional male jobs within the council have done very nicely ‘thank you’ out of the council’s in-house job evaluation scheme.

Whereas many female dominated jobs have lost out – for reasons no one can explain – and that’s what Action 4 Equality Scotland and Stefan Cross are challenging.

More to follow – watch this space.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Desperate Times and Desperate Measures

Unison has written to a number of Stefan Cross clients in Midlothian Council – in a desperate effort to persuade them to jump ship - and allow the union’s lawyers (Thompsons Solicitors) to handle their equal pay claims.

Our advice is not to touch this ‘offer’ with a bargepole – because things could get very messy.

Because lawyers and their agents (in this case Unison) are not allowed under The Law of Society Scotland rules to tout for business – by trying to poach clients who already have legal representation in place.

And clearly this is what Unison is doing – so it could all end badly, in tears.

But the real reason for telling Unison to sling its hook - is that the union can’t be trusted when it comes to equal pay.

Why?

1. Because Unison is just a guilty as the employers are – for keeping women workers in the dark for so many years - about bonus payments and the big pay gap with male jobs.

2. Because Unison has encouraged low paid members to accept poor settlement offers from employers – in Glasgow and other councils – and no doubt the union will do so again.

3. Because Unison has given the employers an easy ride for the past 10 years - Midlothian Council is getting away with murder over its plans for a new pay and grading structure (Modernising Midlothian) – what is Unison doing?

Our advice is to decline Unison’s offer of ‘help’ – Unison can’t even get the basic facts right – in their letter to Stefan Cross clients they mention “Stephen Cross” and then “Stephan Cross” twice in the space of two short paragraphs. Barmy as can be!

If that’s the level of detail that ordinary union members can expect from Unison or Thompsons – then God help them. The same nonsense is likely to be going on in other councils as well – so forewarned is forearmed.

So, we say give the ‘Johnny Come Lately’ union hacks short shrift – see post dated 8 February 2009.

Friday, 6 March 2009

More Snakes and Ladders

We’ve received lots of helpful feedback from the post dated 4 March 2009 – Snakes and Ladders in South Lanarkshire - here are some more eye opening facts and figures.

The following council jobs are done mainly by women:

Cleaner (MW 1)
Catering Assistant (MW 2)
Escort (MW 3)
Day Care Assistant (MW 3)


These jobs were all placed on Manual Worker grades 1 - 3 by the old job evaluation (JE) scheme that existed prior to South Lanarkshire’s ‘in-house’ Single Status exercise, which is unlike any other council in Scotland.

Here are some well-known male jobs that were also graded at MW 1-3 under the old JE scheme.

Car Park Attendant (MW 1)
Road Sweeper (MW 1)
Refuse Collector (MW 2)
Gardener (MW 3)
Gravedigger (MW 3)
Road Worker (MW 3)

But let’s see how these different jobs fared under South Lanarkshire’s in-house pay and grading scheme (all pay rates are shown at 2007/08 rates):

Female dominated jobs
Cleaner (SCP 1 = £5.81 per hour)
Catering Assistant (SCP 5-8 = £6.17 to £6.45 per hour)
Escort (SCP 1-8 = £5.81 to £6.45 per hour)
Day Care Assistant (SCP 4-10 = £6.08 to £6.85 per hour)

Male Dominated jobs
Car Park Attendant (SCP 1-19 = £5.81 to £7.60 per hour)
Road Sweeper (SCP 1-16 = £5.81 to £7.27 per hour)
Refuse Collector (SCP 1-16 = £5.81 to £7.27 per hour)
Gardener (SCP 18-25 = £7.48 to £8.31 per hour)
Gravedigger (SCP 25-28 = £8.31 to £8.69 per hour)
Road Worker (SCP 1-31 = £5.81 to £9.09 per hour)

What’s obvious to anyone prepared to look at the facts – is that male workers in South Lanarkshire have done extraordinarily well out of the council’s in-house 555 grading scheme.

So well – in fact – that the female employees’ who prior to Single Status were on the same range of Manual Worker grades (MW 1– 3) have been left far behind.

The highest rate for an MW 3 female job is now £6.85 per hour – while an MW 1 male job earns £9.09 an hour.

And - to add insult to injury - many of the women’s jobs are not paid at the top of their scale – so the pay gap in many cases is even greater than it first appears.

The difference between bottom and top – is an eye watering £3.28 an hour!

Women workers in South Lanarkshire are entitled to be extremely angry at the lack of answers from the council – and the inability of senior officials to explain the big differences in pay between male and female jobs.

More to follow – watch this space.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Direct and Care

Glasgow readers have been in touch about the planned transfer of Direct and Care employees to Cordia - see post dated 1 March 2009.

Apparently, parts of the workforce are being asked to reduce the hours that they currently work - in return for which the council will compensate people for their 'lost' hours - in some kind of crazy, ill-defined 'buy-out' scheme.

Sounds mad - but then lots of mad things happen in Glasgow these days.

In any event, the position is quite clear under the TUPE regulations - all contracts must transfer intact to the incoming employer - in this case Cordia.

In turn, Cordia must respect people's contracts of employment - the company cannot tear them up or start interfering with contractual terms that have been agreed with Direct and Care.

Otherwise Glasgow city council's newest arm's length company will fall foul of the TUPE regulations - which are there to protect the interests of the workforce.

All of these issues should, of course, be resolved prior to any transfer going ahead.

If the consultation promised by the council is inadequate or is not taking place - the unions can complain and stop the process in its tracks.

So, the 9,000 people due to transfer to Cordia should be kicking up a fuss - they should also consider registering an equal pay claim to protect their interests.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Snakes and Ladders in South Lanarkshire

Our recent meetings in South Lanarkshire have produced lots of interesting feedback from council employees. Here are a couple of some well known council jobs done mainly by women:

Cook in Charge (MW 5) and Home Carer (MW 5)

Both of these female jobs were graded at Manual Worker 5 (MW5) under the old, pre-Single Status job evaluation (JE) scheme.


The old JE scheme was discredited because it failed to take any account of the bonus earnings of the male jobs – everyone agreed that it badly undervalued the content of many female jobs.

Because even though the women’s jobs had a higher grade – they were actually paid much less than the men - because of hidden bonus payments to the male jobs.

Single Status and a new non-discriminatory JE scheme were supposed to put an end to this nonsense – and give the women a fairer deal.

Here are some typical male dominated council jobs - along with their old Manual Worker grades:

Gravedigger (MW 3)
Road Worker (MW3/4)
Gardener ((MW 4)
Refuse Driver (MW 4)

All of these male jobs had less content or ‘value’ than their female colleagues – which is why they were placed on lower grades than the Cook-in Charge and Home Carer.

So under a new improved and fairer JE scheme – you would expect the female jobs to still come out on top – or fare even better.

But what has actually happened in South Lanarkshire – is that the female jobs have all been leapfrogged by the men – here are the new Single Status pay arrangements (at 2007/08 pay rates).

Home Carer (SCP 1– 16 = £6.65 to £7.27 per hour)
Cook-in-Charge (SCP 10–16 = £5.81 to £7.27 per hour)

Gravedigger (SCP 18–25 = £7.48 to £8.31 per hour)
Road Worker (SCP 1-31 = £8.31 to £8.69 per hour)
Gardener (SCP 25–28 = £8.31 to £8.69 per hour)
Refuse Driver (SCP 25–28 = £8.31 to £8.69 per hour)

The point is that if Single Status in South Lanarkshire were a game of snakes and ladders – the women's jobs have somehow landed on all the snakes – while the male jobs have miraculously managed to find all the ladders!

Watch this space - more to follow.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Glasgow City Slickers

A thought occurred since re-reading the Sunday Herald report about the shenanigans at one of Glasgow City Council's new arm's length companies - City Building.

How come the Managing Director (Willie Docherty) gets paid £150,000 a year - when the Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council draws a salary of £158,000 a year?

What explains the £8,000 difference - is City Building underpaying or overpaying its boss - and how was this rather generous salary determined?

Because the council chief executive clearly has a bigger job - with a wide range of services and much greater responsibility - than the head honcho at City Building, which has only 2,200 employees.

Yet Willie Docherty (MD) is paid nearly as much as the top man at Scotland's largest council - which has more than ten times the number of staff at City Building.

Something wrong somewhere - surely!

The Sunday Herald also carried an advert yesterday for a new chief executive at North Ayrshire Council - with a salary of £126,597 a year.

Maybe it's not just the country's bankers that need much closer public scrutiny.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Shape of Things to Come?

No sooner do we raise concerns about Glasgow’s new Direct and Care company (Cordia) – than a fascinating article appears in the Sunday Herald newspaper.

City Building was set up as a new arm’s length company in 2006 – from what was previously the council’s Housing DLO (Direct Labour Organisation).

But according to the Sunday Herald, City Building has become mired in a cronyism row after it appointed Scottish Labour's former general secretary (Lesley Quinn) to a newly-created senior management post.


The newspaper report goes on:

“Willie Docherty, its £150,000-a-year managing director, is married to Sadie Docherty, a Glasgow Labour councillor. He is a member of the Glasgow South Labour party and an ally of Steven Purcell, the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council.

Senior staff at the quango, which employs 2200 people in the construction trade and has a turnover of more than £150 million, are paid at least £50,000, according to its annual accounts.

One Labour source said: "Lesley Quinn's job was a new position. It was not advertised. They already have a marketing director but they created a business development director post and she got it around October"

Initially reliant on building and maintenance contracts from Glasgow Housing Association, City Building is currently trying to secure work from the private sector and other councils. It also supplies domestic gas services and runs Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries.

City Building refused to answer any questions about Quinn, including when she started work, how she was appointed, her job description, her pay, the organisation's links to Labour, or its spending at the Labour conference.”

All very nice and cosy, as they say.

Maybe someone should report City Building and the City Council to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

After all public money is involved here. And no self-declared equal opportunities employer should be recruiting staff - without following a professional recruitment process.

Otherwise people are entitled to conclude – there’s no smoke without fire.

NB: with thanks to the Sunday Herald (Tom Gordon and Paul Hutcheon).

Direct and Care (Cordia)

As readers know (see posts dated 2 and 11 February 2009), Glasgow City Council is planning to transfer 9,000 employees from Direct and Care Services into a new arm’s length company – to be known as Cordia.

The transfer is due to go ahead on 1 April 2009 – but what people may be surprised to learn about are some of the ambitious assumptions that underpin Cordia’s business plan.


First of all, the new company is banking on savings of 2.5% in Years 2 and 3 – which have to be found from council budgets passed on to Cordia from Direct and Care.

So, a cut of 5.0% over three years has already been built into the base budget.

But to make matters worse – much worse, potentially – Cordia’s business plan also assumes that turnover will grow by 6% over 3 years – increasing from £151,691,000 in 2009/10 to £160,124,000 in 2011/2012 (largely from generating new income).

A hugely ambitious growth forecast in the present circumstances – especially when you stop to think that the UK economy is in the worst shape for generations.

So, is the transfer all likely to end in tears – because vital services and people’s jobs are at stake here?

How much proper scrutiny has taken place – of these expert plans and forecasts? Who guards the guards, as the saying goes?

Who knows?. But according to the consultation timetable – employees transferring to Cordia should by now have had answers to all of their questions about what the future holds.

The trade unions are key players in the transfer process – they have the right to be consulted under the TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) regulations.

The timetable announced by the council says that by January 2009 there should have been effective communication and consultation with staff – through the trade unions.

But what is really happening on the ground – what meetings have been held – what are the unions doing to protect the interest of Direct and Care employees?

We’d be interested to hear – if you have any news to pass on, contact Action 4 equality Scotland on 0845 300 3 800 or drop Mark Irvine a note at: markirvine@compuserve.com