Monday, 29 February 2016

First Minister and Equal Pay



I enjoyed this article from The Herald which reported that Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is up for a scrap with extra-terrestrials invading Planet Earth in a modern re-working of The Kraken Wakes.

Great news if you ask me, because it suggests that after fighting off invading aliens it should be child's play for the First Minister to get stuck into Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council over equal pay.



http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14299993.Nicola_Sturgeon_battles_alien_invasion_terrorising_UK_in_new_BBC_drama_debut/

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon battles alien invasion terrorising UK in new BBC drama debut



First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Val McDermid at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year

By PHIL MILLER - The Herald

She has obtained sweeping new powers for Scotland, leads a party poised to dominate Holyrood for years - and is now set to restore order to a UK invaded by aliens.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to make first foray into radio drama - playing herself as a calming voice of authority as Britain is besieged by extra-terrestrials

Ms Sturgeon appears in the BBC Radio 4 production, The Kraken Wakes, a modern retelling of John Wyndham's classic 1953 apocalyptic novel, which has been adapted by the Scottish crime writer and dramatist Val McDermid.

Foot-Dragging Council (25/02/16)



Not surprisingly, there has been lots of interest in my post yesterday about the First Minister and Equal Pay.

So I thought I'd just highlight (from a previous post) what Nicola Sturgeon had to say about the behaviour of 'foot-dragging' council in her remarks at FMQs in the Scottish Parliament.  

Linda Fabiani: 

Does the First Minister agree that local authorities in which the same political party has been in office for years, such as South Lanarkshire Council, have no excuse at all not to have settled equal pay claims on a fair and equitable basis? Does she realise that some of the claims date back for many years and continue to cause stress and strife among hard-working constituents in East Kilbride and elsewhere?



Ministers have repeatedly made clear—I do so again unequivocally today—that the delays by councils in settling equal pay claims are completely unacceptable. As Linda Fabiani said, many of the claims go back to 2006—even further, in some cases. There can be absolutely no justification for taking so long to resolve the issue. Some progress has been made recently—for example, the settlement of claims against Fife Council—but much more work needs to be done. Equal pay cases need to be progressed with urgency and commitment so that those who are affected receive their legal entitlements. The Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment has written to all 32 local authorities to reiterate the Government’s desire for more and faster progress, and to seek information on the number of claims that have been settled and the number that are still outstanding for each council.

Now I don't want to put words in the First Minister's mouth, but if you ask me this is Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council down to a tee!

North Lanarkshire was first given the task of sorting out its discriminatory pay arrangements almost two decades ago at the time of the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement.

The original deadline for completion of 2002 was then moved to 2004 because Scotland's councils (under the 'dead-hand' leadership of COSLA) could not get their act together.

Action 4 Equality Scotland came along in 2005 and let the cat out of the bag by explaining the huge differences in pay between traditional male and female jobs which resulted in an avalanche of equal pay claims from a disgruntled workforce and angry union members.

North Lanarkshire introduced new local pay arrangements and a new job evaluation scheme (JES) in in 2006/07 which, the Council claimed resolved their equal pay problems.

I begged to differ and said so loud and clearly in my blog site way back December 2007 - posts I'll will shortly re-publish to remind readers about the history and grand scale of this debacle.

A4ES clients challenged the efficacy of North Lanarkshire's new 'equal pay' proofed pay arrangements and in 2012/13, with the help of the estimable Daphne Romney QC, the Labour-run council's defences finally collapsed at the long-running Employment Tribunal in Glasgow.

A partial settlement was reached with NLC which took the majority of claimants up to March 2015, but the Council has still to complete a review of all the grading of various council jobs which was to have been done by the end of December 2015.

In addition, the claims of a number of "First Wave' groups have still to be resolved as have the claims of hundreds of GMB members, just as another major area of dispute with the Council over pensions is about to rear its head.

Perhaps the most amazing issue in this sorry tale is that, broadly speaking, the same group of elected politicians and senior officials have been responsible for overseeing the Council's pay arrangements over these past two decades.

Which is why I think it's perfectly reasonable to call for an independently-led inquiry into North Lanarkshire Council's handling of equal pay, after all this time. 

First Ministers Questions (17/02/16)



I get emails on a daily basis from people asking how they can play their part in the ongoing battle with North Lanarkshire Council over equal pay.

Well publicity is a great weapon, particularly in the run-up to the next Scottish Parliament elections which will be held in May 2016 and this whole business in North Lanarkshire has been dragging on for far too long - 16 years in the case of First Wave NLC claimants whose cases have still to be settled.  

So if you ask me for a good way of getting a strong message across to the powers that be, I would go straight to the top and write directly to Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who had these interesting words to say about 'foot-dragging' councils at FMQs in the Scottish Parliament last year. 

 

First Minister's Questions (FMQs) - Equal Pay

4. Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP): 


To ask the First Minister what action the Scottish Government considers needs to be taken to fully realise the objectives of the Equal Pay Act 1970. (S4F-03058)



The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon): 

On Monday, we marked equal pay day, which is the point in the year when many women start essentially working for nothing for the rest of the year, because women on average continue to earn less than men. It is a complete and utter disgrace that, despite the Equal Pay Act 1970 having been passed 45 years ago—in the year I was born, in fact—we still do not have equal pay in this country. The Scottish Government is seeking to lead by example. We have made tackling the gender pay gap a priority in our programme for government, we are working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to tackle pregnancy-related and maternity-related discrimination, and we continue to promote fair work practices and to extend childcare. I take the opportunity to call on all organisations and businesses to take action on the issue so that we end pay inequality in Scotland once and for all.


Linda Fabiani: 

Does the First Minister agree that local authorities in which the same political party has been in office for years, such as South Lanarkshire Council, have no excuse at all not to have settled equal pay claims on a fair and equitable basis? Does she realise that some of the claims date back for many years and continue to cause stress and strife among hard-working constituents in East Kilbride and elsewhere?


The First Minister: 

Ministers have repeatedly made clear—I do so again unequivocally today—that the delays by councils in settling equal pay claims are completely unacceptable. As Linda Fabiani said, many of the claims go back to 2006—even further, in some cases. There can be absolutely no justification for taking so long to resolve the issue. Some progress has been made recently—for example, the settlement of claims against Fife Council—but much more work needs to be done. Equal pay cases need to be progressed with urgency and commitment so that those who are affected receive their legal entitlements. The Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment has written to all 32 local authorities to reiterate the Government’s desire for more and faster progress, and to seek information on the number of claims that have been settled and the number that are still outstanding for each council.


In my view, North Lanarkshire Council should be throughly ashamed of its behaviour in relation to equal pay and what's needed now is an independently-led inquiry into how the political leadership of the Council and its senior officials have made such a terrible mess of their pay arrangements for all these years.

Readers can contact the First Minister via the following email address which I would mark for the attention of Nicola Sturgeon: scottish.ministers@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

I would also send a copy of any letter to Nicola Sturgeon to your own local MSP asking for their comments and support.

Food for Thought (17/02/16)



Here's a letter I wrote to Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, way back in 2014.

Now this was widely publicised at the time and may well have helped knock some sense into Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council given that a partial settlement of the Council's outstanding equal pay claims followed quickly, as the New Year got underway in 2015.

But as we approach the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2016 and with so many equal pay issues still outstanding, maybe the time is ripe to put North Lanarkshire's behaviour back up to the top of the political agenda. 

Let's see if we can get Holyrood MSPs (and Westminster MPs for that matter) to put their weight behind a campaign for an independent inquiry into North Lanarkshire's behaviour in relation to equal pay over the past 16 years.  


28 November 2014


Dear First Minister

Gender Equality and North Lanarkshire Council

I followed with great interest the events leading up to your election as Scotland's new First Minister, in particular your comments about the importance of gender equality as a way of promoting social justice.

I have a long-standing involvement in equality issues and for the past 10 years I have acted as spokesperson for Action 4 Equality Scotland which has been leading the fight for equal pay in Scottish local government. Before that I acted as Unison's Head of Local Government and chief negotiator in Scotland and one of my responsibilities was to deliver the landmark equalities agreement in the shape of the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement with the purpose of sweeping away many years of historical pay discrimination against tens of thousands of low paid women's jobs.

At the moment I am heavily involved in the campaign for equal pay in North Lanarkshire Council which is proving to be just as stubborn and short-sighted an opponent as South Lanarkshire Council, its close neighbour. South Lanarkshire Council denied the existence of any gender based problems with their local pay arrangements for the best part of 10 years and refused to disclose vital information relating to the pay of traditional male and female jobs. A long and hard FoI battle with South Lanarkshire ended in a hearing before the UK Supreme Court in 2013 (at a cost of £200,000 to the public purse) which the Council lost decisively in a unanimous judgment. This finally forced the release of the pay information I had requested some three years earlier. 

So after being in complete denial for years South Lanarkshire Council finally came to its senses and negotiated a settlement of all its outstanding equal pay claims. This was reported in the press at the time as costing the Council over £70 million, ironically after describing my original FoI request as 'vexatious'.

The position of North Lanarkshire Council is very different, but there are striking similarities as well, in particular over how stubbornly and unprofessionally the Council has behaved. In 2007 North Lanarkshire reached an interim settlement of some of its outstanding equal pay claims using the introduction of a new Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) as a cut off date for settlement; the logic being that the new JES allegedly addressed the blatant discrimination and deficiencies inherent in the Council's old pay structures. 

Sadly, this proved not to be the case because North Lanarkshire went on to assimilate all the traditional male jobs on to the new pay structures on the basis of their old earnings, entrenching and compounding the historical pay discrimination. In addition, the Council's treatment of various female dominated jobs, for example Home Carers, has been shown to be wrong and discriminatory, yet this belated admission came only in 2014 after a full 7 years  of insisting that their grading assessments and the pay of the women's jobs were accurate and fair - and no less favourable than the men.

North Lanarkshire Council is now in a giant hole of its own making and this is the same Council which has been very heavily criticised in the press over the introduction of a performance 'bonus' scheme for the Council's most senior and highly paid officials, while the rest of the workforce has been subject to a policy of public sector pay restraint.

My purpose in raising these matters with you, as First Minister, is to invite the Scottish Government to use its powers under the Equality Act to launch an investigation into North Lanarkshire Council's behaviour. My reading of The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 suggests that the Scottish Government can intervene and is able to do so under Clause 11 of the Statutory Instrument which says:

Duty to consider other matters

11. In carrying out its duties under these regulations, a listed authority may be required to consider such matters as may be specified from time to time by the Scottish Ministers. 

In my view, Scottish Ministers should intervene and require North Lanarkshire Council to explain why it has not assessed its risks properly or made adequate provision to meet its equal pay liabilities, despite the wealth of information available to the Council from its internal and external auditors. I understand that North Lanarkshire Council is seeking to raise funds from the private sector by selling off public property to meet the costs of equal pay, whereas other councils in Scotland previously approached the Scottish Government for financial assistance by seeking extra borrowing consents.

I think it's fair to say that North Lanarkshire has been behaving very irresponsibly with public money over the past 10 years and now seems out of control, perhaps because the same people who got the Council into this terrible mess are still running the show over equal pay.

In my opinion, what is needed is an injection of independent scrutiny to consider the Council's handling of equal pay from 2006/07 onwards and I hope Scottish Ministers will consider using their powers under the Equality Act to intervene on behalf of thousands of low paid women workers in North Lanarkshire who have been waiting all these years to see justice done over equal pay. 

I am in the process of calculating a figure to illustrate the additional cost of this unnecessary delay between 2007 and 2014 and would be happy to share this information with you and/or your officials.

Finally, can I take the opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment as First Minister and for achieving a 50/50 gender balance in the Scottish Government's Cabinet which, in my view, puts the Westminster Government and Westminster Parliament to shame.  

Kind regards



Mark Irvine

First Minister and Equal Pay ((24/02/16)



In a recent post I set out a number of practical campaigning ideas for people to take up to turn up the heat on Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council - one of which was to contact Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

So I was delighted to read this article which appeared in The Herald newspaper the other day which says that Nicola Sturgeon is preparing to take the fight to stay in Europe to voters in England.

Because all too often politicians say they can't get involved in issues beyond their direct remit, that it's not their business and they have no powers to tell local councils (for example) what to do when it comes to equal pay.

Which is true, of course, though completely beside the point since the issue is not about the First Minister, MSPs or MPs instructing North Lanarkshire Council what to do or how to clear up a mess of their own foolish making.

No, the issue is that politicians at all levels are perfectly entitled to establish the facts and make their views known loudly and publicly, as they do on every other issue under the sun from the price of mince to the pros and cons of nuclear weapons.

So a word of encouragement for any readers contacting elected politicians (local or national) about equal pay in Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council - don't take accept a lame excuse like "It's not my responsibility" for an answer.

Because if Scotland's First Minister is prepared to campaign in England over the future of Europe, then there's nothing to stop senior politicians from making their voices heard over equal pay in North Lanarkshire which is right in their own back yard.   



http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14291463.Sturgeon_will_take_fight_to_stay_in_Europe_to_English_voters/

Sturgeon will take fight to stay in Europe to English voters


Sturgeon will take fight to stay in Europe to English voters


By Tom Gordon - The Sunday Herald

NICOLA Sturgeon will use her enhanced profile since the general election to try and persuade voters south of the border to stay in the European Union.

After reaching an English audience through last year’s TV debates, the First Minister will make a series of speeches selling the benefits of being in the EU.

SNP Europe and External Affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop told the Sunday Herald: “The First Minister will continue to make speeches in London and elsewhere on our view of how the UK should operate in the EU. We will be setting out our views and our arguments for a positive view based on solidarity, social protection and mutual support.

Calling Fife



A4ES is now down to just a small handful of 'missing' claimants from Fife who have still to get in touch regarding their outstanding equal pay claims. 

The following individual is on this small and dwindling list. Avril has a significant claim which will remain with Fife Council if no one comes forward: 

1 Avril Sidebottom

So if anyone knows how to contact Avril, please ask her to get in touch with the A4ES office as soon as possible.

Because it would be a real shame if the monies due to Avril remain with Fife Council, after all the hard work that's gone into achieving a settlement.




Action 4 Equality Scotland

Image result for contact details



Here are contact details for Action 4 Equality Scotland - including a new telephone number . 

Action 4 Equality Scotland
10 York Place
Edinburgh
EH1 3EP

Email: enquiries@action4equality.co.uk

Phone: 0131 659 9958

Sunday, 28 February 2016

North Lanarkshire Update


The Sunday Herald reports that the senior North Lanarkshire Council official who was suspended as the result of some obscure row over teacher numbers has now resigned from his post.

The reasons behind Andrew Sutherland's suspension, presumably on full pay, have still to be explained but if you ask me it looks decidedly odd that this official has been singled out, when those responsible for NLC's equal pay debacle are still at their desks.



North Lanarkshire council director who was suspended over teacher numbers row quits his post



North Lanarkshire Council




By Paul Hutcheon -The Sunday Herald

A director in one of Scotland’s biggest local authorities who was suspended amid a row over inaccurate teaching numbers has resigned.

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council confirmed Andrew Sutherland had quit and said he did not receive a pay-off.

However, local SNP councillor Michael Coyle defended the official, saying: "My workings and dealings with him have been excellent. I think he has been made a scapegoat."

NLC Update (07/11/15)



The BBC reports that a senior official in North Lanarkshire has been suspended over some issues about the maintenance and accuracy of Council data on the numbers of teaching staff.

Now I don't know how serious or otherwise the issue is, but when you think that no action has been taken against any of the Council's senior officials over the scandal of equal pay, you have to wonder whether North Lanarkshire has got its priorities right.


North Lanarkshire Council official suspended in teacher numbers probe

BBC Glasgow & West Scotland

A senior official at one of the Scotland's largest local authorities has been suspended from his post.

North Lanarkshire Council is investigating concerns about information kept on teacher numbers.

A spokesman said Andrew Sutherland, executive director of learning and leisure services, had been suspended "pending an internal investigation".

He added: "The investigation concerns the maintenance and accuracy of data on numbers of teaching staff."

NLC Update (14/10/14)



In responding to my recent FoI request North Lanarkshire Council provided the following link to the Council's web site which provides details of the performance bonuses paid to senior officials in 2013/14.

Now the total for the Council Management Team (CMT) comes to £43,786.57 in the latest year for which figures are available, but to be added to this are the performance bonuses paid to 21 'Heads of Service' posts which range from £4,684.68 to £9,485.11.

So the Heads of Service posts must have cost the taxpayer between £98,378.28 (i.e. 21 x £4,684.68) and £199,187.31 (i.e. 21 x £9,485.11) on top of the CMT bill of £43,786.57 which means that in 2014 North Lanarkshire Council spent up to £242,973.88 in performance bonuses for its most senior and highest paid officials.

I find that quite amazing, I have to say.

Especially when the rest of the Council workforce has faced a policy of pay restraint and at a time when the Council has been forced to own up to a serious mistakes and errors over the application of its job evaluation scheme (JES), which has led to thousands of jobs, such as low paid Home Carers, being wrongly 'scored' and graded.

Now if you ask me, this kind of performance merits an independent inquiry, not big bonuses for senior managers and I hope MSPs will start asking questions about the Council's actions in the Scottish Parliament.      

The council's management team

Our directors
Gavin Whitefield Gavin Whitefield CBE, Chief Executive
The Chief Executive within North Lanarkshire is the council's chief policy advisor. He is the main link between council officials and elected members. He is responsible for corporate governance and seeks to ensure the co-ordination of the organisation and all its functions. Of primary concern to the Chief Executive is the overall direction and performance of the council.
Salary 2013/14: £136,578.03 (plus performance-related pay of £11,395.26)
Expenses reimbursed: £132.80

June Murray June Murray, Executive Director, Corporate Services
Corporate Services is the title of a group of mainly support and professional services for the council, which has the ambition of delivering high quality and cost effective support for the council, its elected councillors and the services the council provides.
While some important direct services to the public are part of the service grouping - such as licensing and the registration service - for the most part, Corporate Services provide a major range of support services without which the council could not operate effectively.
These range from committee and decision making arrangements to property maintenance, from health and safety to architectural services, from legal advice to staff recruitment, from employee development to property management, from support to elected councillors to quantity surveying.
Salary 2013/14: £110,831.16* (plus performance-related pay of £7444.15)
Expenses reimbursed: £0

Paul Jukes Paul Jukes, Executive Director, Environmental Services
Environmental Services is responsible for the service delivery of six major services within the council: Roads and Transportation, Planning and Development, Protective Services, Facility Support Services, Land Services, and Regeneration and Infrastructure.
This brings together key services with direct responsibility for environmental issues, both strategic and operational. This amalgamation provides fresh opportunities for strategic development, collaborative working and improved service delivery.
Salary 2013/14: £114,045.72 (plus performance-related pay of £9,247.50)
Expenses reimbursed: £110.72

Alasdair Critchton Alistair Crichton, Executive Director, Finance and Customer Services.

Finance and Customer Services is responsible for financial management within the council and developing the council's Customer First Strategy. Finance and Customer Services sets and monitors the council's budget and prepares the annual accounts and provides financial advice; makes arrangements for collection of all income due to the council including council tax, non-domestic rates and income from service charges and deals with the procurement and payment of goods and services and the provision of payroll and internal audit services.
The council's E-government and Service Development division is responsible for the development and operation of the council's information technology systems and for driving forward the Customer First agenda.
Salary 2013/14: £114,045.72 (plus performance-related pay of £9,247.50)
Expenses reimbursed: £0
Duncan McKay Duncan McKay, Executive Director, Housing and Social Work Services
Housing and Social Work Services are responsible for providing the following a range of services including managing estates, offering housing and maintaining waiting lists, homelessness services, warden services, tenancy services and the maintenance of the site for gypsy travellers.
Housing services also provide the anti social task force services. These are provided through a network of 12 First Stop Shops and five neighbourhood offices.
Social Work services provide a wide range of social work support to individuals and families through six area teams and two sub offices. The range of services includes children's and families' services, community care services, justice services and advice services. Social work services are also provided at two hospitals in North Lanarkshire.
Approximately 12,300 people receive services either directly provided by the council or arranged through independent sector providers.
Salary 2013/14: £95,174.91* (plus performance-related pay of £6,452.16)
Expenses reimbursed: £266.39

Andrew Sutherland Andrew Sutherland, Executive Director, Learning and Leisure Services
The main aim of Learning and Leisure Services is to maintain excellent frontline services, upgrade nurseries, schools and community facilities across Lanarkshire and delivering a curriculum that meets the needs of all learners and helps improve levels of literacy and numeracy.
The service aims to encourage parental involvement and targets the health agenda by promoting healthy eating and physical activity, extending sporting opportunities for young people.
There is also a focus on supporting local communities to engage in community planning and actively engaging with staff to deliver quality services across the board.
Salary 2013/14: £64,841.61*
Expenses reimbursed: £99.69

*new appointment/salary represents only part of financial year
Other chief officers
Individual service delivery within each directorate is the responsibility of a Head of Service. There were 24* Heads of Service whose salaries in 2013/14 ranged between £17,076.98 and £94,580.19 plus performance-related pay between £4,684.68 and £9,485.11. The expenses reimbursed for this group in 2013/14 totals £1,245.65.
*There are 21 Head of Service posts but, due to promotion and retirement, a total of 24 people filled these posts in 2013/14.
Please use the 'contact us' box if you have any questions. For more information, see 'related pages', 'downloads' or 'other useful websites'.

North Lanarkshire News (13 October 2014)


I submitted an FoI request to North Lanarkshire back in September about a highly controversial performance pay or 'bonus' scheme introduced some years ago, but which applies only to the council's most highly paid officials.   

Now as I submitted this request I didn't really believe that this scheme would still be in operation because a policy of pay restraint has been in place for council workers for some years now.

So why would North Lanarkshire Council still be paying big performance bonuses to its top brass?

Not just that because the senior officials of the Council have not exactly covered themselves in glory in recent years on the subject of equal pay, never mind being deserving of big bonus payments for 'exceptional' performance.

But what do you know?

Turns out that the scheme is alive and kicking, according to the Council's response to my FoI request which I find scarcely believable, especially after the Council was forced to admit in the Glasgow Employment Tribunal that senior managers have incorrectly scored and graded thousands of jobs - including those of Home Carers, for example.

"So exactly how does this merit a performance bonus for Gavin Whitefield, North Lanarkshire's chief executive and other senior officials?", I ask myself in all seriousness. 

I will share the details of the latest payments on the blog site tomorrow, but in the meantime here's a previous post which explains the background to this ongoing scandal.

Council Bigwigs (14 March 2014)



Here's another post from the blog site archive about North Lanarkshire Council which speaks for itself if you ask me - the only thing I would add is that given recent events in the Employment Tribunal, the officials involved should now be asked to hand these ridiculous bonuses back.

Because their performance has been shoddy, to say the least, in terms of looking after the interests of the workforce, so given what we know now how can the Council's senior managers defend these bonus payments?

The whole sorry business is enough to make a banker blush.   

Pay Freeze Hypocrites ( 26 March 2012)

North Lanarkshire Council should hang its head in shame.

The Sunday Herald has exposed a secret pay deal involving big bonus payments to some of the council's most senior  officials - which must have been approved by the Labour Group that runs North Lanarkshire Council (NLC).

The truth has been dragged out of North Lanarkshire Council - and shows that 29 senior staff scooped approximately £184,000 in extra payments - chief executive Gavin Whitefield being the biggest winner with an extra £12,050 on top of his £136,848 salary.

Which must make other council workers hopping mad - because at a time when their pay is being frozen - the chief executive is awarded an 9% pay increase.

How's that for hypocrisy and double standards?

The Sunday Herald goes on to point out that five executive directors - who earn salaries of £113,250 a year - all received more than £9000 - as did the assistant chief executive John Ellerby.

And more than 20 heads of service - on salaries between £77,166 and £85,761 - each took home bonus payments of approximately £4000 to £6000.

Now the council calls these extra payments performance related pay - but they are really just bonuses by another name.

Apparently only a select group of people can access such payments - and I imagine the scheme works in only one direction in the sense that a senior official's core salary is guaranteed - so the chief executive can never earn less than £136,848 a year.

In which case how can it be a genuine performance based scheme - if people's pay can only go up but never down?

The salaries of all council chief executives is determined by collective bargaining - in a similar way to other groups of council employees - via a Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee (SJNC).

On the SJNC for chief executives and chief officials - where COSLA represents the employers' interests and Unison is the main trade union - salaries for chief executives are set as part of a Scotland-wide agreement - and the pay of Glasgow's chief executive always comes out on top.

Because Glasgow is by far the largest council - and by and large that is what any sensible person would expect.

But there is no provision in the Scotland-wide salary agreement - for locally determined performance pay - since that would be against the spirit of national bargaining and would be potentially discriminatory as well - especially if such payments are only available to elite groups of senior staff.

So the whole thing's a disgrace if you ask me.

In many ways it reminds me of the secret 'top-up' payments made by Glasgow City Council - to councillors who acted as Chairs of its arm's length external organisations (such as Cordia) -  or ALEOs as they became known. 

Regular readers will remember that these payments were stopped by the Scottish Government - but only after an independent enquiry criticised Glasgow's top-up payments - as unjustified, unnecessary and a complete waste of taxpayers' money.

So I would be interested to hear how a Labour-run council can justify this kind of behaviour.

Especially at a time when thousands of people in North Lanarkshire Council are still fighting for equal pay. 

How can the senior Labour councillors who signed off on this deal - look a low paid worker in the eye without feeling a huge sense of embarrassment and shame? 

And have you noticed how the tame Labour unions have nothing to say - just as they did over equal pay the unions seem to have lost their voices.

Roll on the local council elections on 3rd May, I say - there is a day of reckoning coming and the sooner it comes the better.


If I had a vote in North Lanarkshire in May, I'd vote for a party which promised to end the scandal of Labour's secret bonus payments to the council's most senior and well paid staff.