Wednesday, 31 August 2016

North Lanarkshire Update



I've had lots of enquiries about backpay and the NLC job evaluation (JE) review which I have written about regularly on the blog site for the past year and more.

Here are two posts (one from May 2015 and the other from June 2016) which explain the background to the JE review and the fact that only a limited number of posts were covered by the review in the first place.

 


North Lanarkshire Update (23/05/15)


Lots of readers have been in touch to ask about the re-evaluation of various jobs in North Lanarkshire Council which has been prompted by the council being forced to concede at the Employment Tribunal that a number of female dominated jobs had not been assessed and graded correctly back in 2006/07.

As part of the equal pay settlement it was agreed by all the parties that the process of carrying out a further job evaluation would be down to the council and the trade unions.


Now that is quite sensible because while Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) has led the fight for equal pay in North Lanarkshire all these years, the council (management and councillors) along with the unions make up the permanent collective bargaining structures in North Lanarkshire.


Part of the agreement is that A4ES will be kept fully informed about what's going on and how the council and the unions intend to tackle the problems that clearly exist within the present grading structure.


Apparently the unions have issued some limited information on the process which says that the following jobs will be subject to further evaluation:  

  • Playground Supervisors
  • School Crossing Patrollers
  • Home Support Workers
  • Road Sweepers
  • Refuse Collectors
  • Gardeners at grades 4 and 5
  • Chargehand Gardeners at grade 6
Now the list contains only the three female dominated jobs which were originally identified at the Employment Tribunal hearing.

Other employees such as Admin and Clerical Workers and Classroom Assistants, for example, may have a case to argue that their jobs and factor scores should be reviewed as well which could be done by bringing a group of such workers together to look in detail at the existing job description and individual factor scores.


Now this would also require a proper look at the male jobs to compare what scores these jobs have been awarded under all the different factor headings to ensure consistency and that jobs are not being treated in isolation.


As I've said before on the blog site what would help this process is maximum transparency and openness which could be achieved by putting all of this information on the Council's web site, for example, where everyone could see what is going on and have the opportunity to comment if they wish.


Over the coming weeks I'll do my best to answer people's questions and requests for information on the blog site, so watch this space.




NLC JE Review (12/06/16)


I submitted a freedom of information (FoI) request to North Lanarkshire Council on Friday (10 May) asking for details of the report to the Policy and Resources Committee on the Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review.

But later that day a helpful contact from within the Council sent me a copy of the report and here is a summary of the main outcomes as far as JE is concerned.

Claimant Jobs

Home Support Workers - Existing Grade NLC 3, New Grade NLC 7

School Crossing Patrollers - Existing Grade NLC 2, New Grade NLC 3

Playground Supervisors - Existing Grade NLC 2, New Grade NLC 2 (no change)


Male Comparator Jobs

Road Sweeper - Existing Grade NLC 2, New Grade NLC 3

Refuse Collector - Existing Grade NLC 4, New Grade NLC 4

Gardener (4) - Existing Grade NLC 4, New Grade NLC 5

Gardener (5) - Existing Grade NLC 5, New Grade NLC 5

Chargehand Gardener - Existing Grade NLC 6, New Grade NLC 7


So two out of three claimant jobs have seen their grades increase (notably the Home Carers) and three out of five male comparator jobs and the new grades will be backdated to 1 April 2015.

However lots of predominantly female job groups have been left out of the JE review which will, I suspect, make many people very angry.

So the trade unions have a lot of explaining to do especially to fee-paying members who have been excluded from the review process.



Labour Fan Club
















The latest YouGov poll for The Times confirms what many people have been saying about the Labour party over the past year or so - it has turned into a Jeremy Corbyn fan club.

The poll shows that of Labour members who joined before May 2015 (i.e. before the last general election) 68% are 'anti-Corbyn' with only 32% 'pro-Corbyn' - but that this ratio is reversed to nearer 30% to 70% amongst newer members.

So the influx of new members has turned the tide in Jeremy Corbyn's favour and looks set to give him a comfortable victory in the Labour leadership contest even though Corbyn's personal ratings amongst the wider electorate continue to fall like a stone.

Read the full You Gov poll results below:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/30/labour-leadership-election-corbyn-leads-smith-24/

 







A Poor Third




The surprising thing about this latest YouGov poll is not that Jeremy Corbyn is trailing so far behind Theresa May, but that the hapless Labour leader has been pushed into 3rd place by the 'Don't Knows'.




Tuesday, 30 August 2016

North Lanarkshire Update



The current position in relation to backpay is that A4ES is in discussions with the Council over payment due for the period 1 April 2015 to 8 June 2016.

The aim is to make these payments by the end of September 2016 via individual offer letters to clients which will allow A4ES to check and verify the sums involved.

A firm date for this to happen has still to be agreed with NLC, but the Council officials involved seem confident that the end of September is perfectly achievable.

A4ES can certainly turn things around veryquickly, by way of individual offer letters, as soon as final agreement on the figures is reached.   

Any backpay due to NLC employees for the period 8 June to 25 August 2016 should already have been processed via the Council's payroll.

As soon as there is any further news and/or a firm date, I will share this information on the blog site.

 


NLC Update (29/08/16)


I've had lots of enquiries from readers in North Lanarkshire over the past few days on the subject of backpay.

Now I think it's fair to say that progress is being made and I expect to be able to say more tomorrow, after I've checked a couple of points.

In the meantime, those due backpay should have received monies on 25th August 2016 (via payroll) covering the period 8 June 2016 to 25 August 2016.

 


North Lanarkshire Update (09/08/16)


As regular readers know there has been some confusion over the payment of backpay arising from North Lanarkshire Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review. 

What appears to be happening is that on 25 August 2016 any new rates of pay will come into effect and council employees will also receive any backpay they are due, but only for the period from 8 June to 25 August 2016.

The longer period when backpay may be due (from 1 April 2015 to 8 June 2016) will be processed via Action 4 Equality Scotland and HBJ Gateley Solicitors after all the figures have been carefully checked. 

Now quite why the Council is choosing to operate in this way is a mystery because it would seem more sensible to complete the whole exercise in one go instead of making two separate payments.

Presumably the 25 August payment will be made via the Council's payroll and will not therefore be subject to the same rigorous checking process as the one being made via A4ES and HBJ Gateley.

A4ES is pressing for the 1 April 2015 to 8 June 2016 payment to be processed as quickly as possible, given the length of time people have been waiting for this whole business to be resolved.

Socialists, Housing and Hypocrites



I wonder if Jeremy Corbyn thinks his old chum Michael Meacher was wealthy after the news that the veteran socialist Labour MP left £5.2 million in his will.

Apparently this staunch Corbyn supporter made a fortune in the property market after becoming a Labour MP in 1970.

During his career Mr Meacher wrote a book "Socialism With A Human Face' and spoke out against people with second homes even though in 2001 he was revealed to the the owner of at least 9 houses, maisonettes and flats worth a cool £2 million.

I'll bet you a pound to a penny that Mr Meacher was also a fierce opponent of the right to buy legislation introduced by the Conservative Government in the 1980s, yet he was obviously doing very well himself out of a booming property market. 

The following report in The Times (behind the paywall) has all the details. 

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/labour-mp-meacher-left-5-2m-in-will-wztvwgb30

  


Embarrassment of Riches (29/08/16)



The Herald reported yesterday that Jeremy Corbyn does not consider himself to be wealthy despite earning five times the average worker’s wage.

The newspaper went on to report that Mr Corbyn’s salary as MP for Islington is just under £75,000 this year, but that he was also entitled to an additional £63,000 as leader of the opposition, giving a total of £138,000.


But this figure fails to mention Mr Corbyn's pension from Unison (NUPE), his state retirement pension which he is entitled to draw being 67 years of age, his exceedingly generous final salary pension arrangements as an MP which are 'banked' for the moment and his £600,000 house in north London.

Not just that, of course, because Mr Corbyn has been a member of the House of Commons for the past 33 years during which time his MP's salary amounted to around £2.5 million (at today's prices) and he has also enjoyed outside earning with Iranian state TV, for example, for which he was paid $27,000 between 2009 and 2012.

So Jezza's way more than just comfortably off, if you ask me.

  

Mañana, Mañana



Here's the new seating plan in the Spanish Parliament which has taken the country's MPs two months to agree since the last general election was held in June 2016.

Now that sounds bad, but is as nothing when you consider the fact that Spain's been without a government since October 2015 which is when the last Congress of Deputies stood down in preparation for a December 2015 general election.

The December 2015 election resulted in political stalemate with the ruling Popular Party  (Conservative) emerging as the largest single group, but without sufficient support to form a coalition government.

A further election was called in June 2016 in an effort to break the political stalemate, but the ruling PP held its ground and even improved its voting share, while all of its rivals lost ground with both PSOE (Socialists) and Podemos (an anti-austerity party) going backwards in the polls.

Something of a farce to be sure, but all the while Spanish MPs are drawing their full salaries which must be one of the few jobs in the world where people are paid to do nothing - except decide the seating arrangements.

third round of elections now seems inevitable although these are not likely to take place until the end of December 2016.

  

Monday, 29 August 2016

'Traingate' Rumbles On



As I suspected, the Labour party's attack on Richard Branson has come under fire from within Labour's own ranks, as Stephen Kinnock MP points out that this looks like exactly what it is - retaliation for the 'Traingate' affair.

Speaking to Radio 4 Mr Kinnock said:

"I think that actually John McDonnell really has a point about our honours system, which doesn’t work and needs a serious look, but I regret the timing of John coming out with that because the problem with what he’s doing is it just looks like it’s retaliation based specifically on what’s happened with Jeremy and Traingate.
"Unfortunately, we’ve taken what is a very serious issue about the way the system works and it’s been somehow devalued by the timing of what John has done so I would regret that."
Quite so, I would say.

Because not only has John McDonnell said nothing on the subject up until now, the issue of the honours system is not even within his financial brief as Labour shadow chancellor.

As regular readers know, Labour's position on the awarding of political honours has also been undermined somewhat by the recent decision to appoint Shami Chakrabarti to the House of Lords ,after stating publicly less than a year ago that there was 'no case for appointing new peers.

 



Labour Leader's Tin Ear (06/08/16)

Image result for tin ear + images

Labour's Tom Watson has his own impressive mandate being elected as deputy party leader at the same time as Jeremy Corbyn.

But in a further illustration of the terrible state of the Labour party, Tom Watson makes plain in this Guardian article his disagreement with Corbyn's bizarre decision to elevate Shami Chakrabarti to the House of Lords.

No doubt Corbyn supporters will support their man and ignore the obvious issues raised by the appointment, but the underlying problem is that the Labour leader has a 'tin ear' when it comes to building a team and striking a chord with the views of the wider electorate.

If you ask me there is something wrong with these people - they say one thing and then do another, and in Shami Chakrabarti's case it's quite remarkable she can even consider accepting a political honour. 


http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/aug/05/tom-watson-criticises-shami-chakrabarti-peerage-nomination

Tom Watson criticises Shami Chakrabarti peerage nomination
Labour’s deputy leader praises former Liberty chief but says timing of Corbyn’s nomination is a mistake
 

Tom Watson says he was not consulted on Chakrabarti’s nomination by the Labour leader. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

By Peter Walker and Rowena Mason - The Guardian

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has criticised his party’s decision to nominate the human rights and civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti for a peerage, saying it was “a mistake” and that he had not been consulted.

“The timing is not great for the Labour party,” Watson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme following Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to put Chakrabarti forward, a move that has attracted condemnation from other Labour MPs.

“I wasn’t aware, I wasn’t consulted whether Shami was going in. I didn’t know that we’d provided citations for this particular round, and I do think it’s a mistake,” Watson said.

The decision has also been criticised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which said it compromised the independence of an inquiry into antisemitism in the party, recently headed by Chakrabarti for Labour.

Marie van der Zyl, the group’s vice-president, said: “It is beyond disappointing that Shami Chakrabartihas been offered, and accepted, a peerage from Labour following her so-called ‘independent’ inquiry.

“The report, which was weak in several areas, now seems to have been rewarded with an honour. This ‘whitewash for peerages’ is a scandal that surely raises serious questions about the integrity of Ms Chakrabarti, her inquiry and the Labour leadership.”

Strange Behaviour (05/08/16)


Less than a year ago Jeremy Corbyn had told Channel 4 News that he saw “no case” for appointing new peers, while only this week Labour's deputy leader, Tom Watson, urged the party to boycott new appointments to the House of Lords.

But now we learn that Jezza has eaten his own words and ignored the advice of his own (elected) deputy by nominating Shami Chakrabarti as a Labour peer, as part of David Cameron's controversial honours list following his resignation as Prime Minister.

Shami Chakabarti headed up the recent inquiry into anti-Semitism within the Labour party, but the curious thing is that she became a Labour party member only after being offered this job which I wrote about at the time - see post below dated 17 May 2016.

So on hearing of Ms Chakrabarti's appointment to the House of Lords, I have to ask myself if the two events are connected.

Because before a person can be nominated to sit in the House of Lords as a Labour peer they have to be, first of all, an individual Labour party member.  




Party On, Dude (17/05/16)



Now here's a bizarre news story about the person leading the inquiry into claims of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, Shami Chakrabarti.

Apparently Shami decided to join the party on the same day she was asked to conduct the independent review by the leader's (Jeremy Corbyn's) office.     

The BBC reports that Ms Chakrabarti made her decision in an effort to gain the "trust and confidence" of other Labour members although quite how this helps to reinforce her claim to be independent is beyond me. 

Can you imagine the row that would ensue if the Conservatives or another political party behaved in this way?



Anti-Semitism inquiry leader Shami Chakrabarti joins Labour

BBC UK Politics


The leader of Labour's inquiry into anti-Semitism, Shami Chakrabarti, says she has joined the party in order to gain members' "trust and confidence".

But she said she would investigate "without fear or favour" and her recommendations would be "mine alone".

The independent inquiry was set up after MP Naz Shah and ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone were suspended amid anti-Semitism claims.

Islamophobia and other forms of racism will also be looked at.

The announcement of the review last month, alongside a new code of conduct on anti-Semitism, came as critics claimed the party leadership was not doing enough to combat the problem.


'Party's interests'

Ms Shah, the MP for Bradford West, was suspended after social media posts emerged in which she suggested Israel should be moved to the United States.

Mr Livingstone was then suspended after claiming Hitler supported Zionism, as he tried to defend her.

Ms Chakrabarti was political neutral in her previous job as head of campaign group Liberty.

Explaining why she joined Labour on the day she was asked to lead the review, she said: "This is a party looking at itself in the mirror and I wanted to have the trust and confidence not just of the Labour leadership but of party members."


Image copyright - REUTERS Image caption - Ken Livingstone accused "embittered Blairites" of whipping up the anti-Semitism row

She said she wanted members to know the inquiry, which will report by the end of June, was "in the party's interests".

She added: "I consider myself to be independent. I do not think I am less independent for making absolutely clear that I share the values of the Labour Party constitution and will seek to promote those values in any recommendations and findings.

"It is a judgment call but I thought that was the most honest thing to do - to be clear that I was undertaking this because I do believe in the values of the Labour Party and want to see them promoted not just in the Labour Party but in the world."

Labour - along with other progressive parties - had to "openly look at itself in the mirror" and combat not only prejudice but also complacency, she added.

The inquiry will consult Labour members and supporters, as well as members of the Jewish community and other minority groups, she said, and could suggest changes to Labour's rules and procedures.

Ms Chakrabarti said she would seek submissions from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn although she could not compel anyone to give evidence.

Labour peer Baroness Royall - who is already leading a review into anti-Semitism allegations including in the Oxford University Labour Club - and Professor David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the study of anti-Semitism, will be vice chairs.

North Lanarkshire Update



I've had lots of enquiries from readers in North Lanarkshire over the past few days on the subject of backpay.

Now I think it's fair to say that progress is being made and I expect to be able to say more tomorrow, after I've checked a couple of points.

In the meantime, those due backpay should have received monies on 25th August 2016 (via payroll) covering the period 8 June 2016 to 25 August 2016.

 


North Lanarkshire Update (09/08/16)



As regular readers know there has been some confusion over the payment of backpay arising from North Lanarkshire Council's late-running job evaluation (JE) review. 

What appears to be happening is that on 25 August 2016 any new rates of pay will come into effect and council employees will also receive any backpay they are due, but only for the period from 8 June to 25 August 2016.

The longer period when backpay may be due (from 1 April 2015 to 8 June 2016) will be processed via Action 4 Equality Scotland and HBJ Gateley Solicitors after all the figures have been carefully checked. 

Now quite why the Council is choosing to operate in this way is a mystery because it would seem more sensible to complete the whole exercise in one go instead of making two separate payments.

Presumably the 25 August payment will be made via the Council's payroll and will not therefore be subject to the same rigorous checking process as the one being made via A4ES and HBJ Gateley.

A4ES is pressing for the 1 April 2015 to 8 June 2016 payment to be processed as quickly as possible, given the length of time people have been waiting for this whole business to be resolved.


Embarrassment of Riches



The Herald reported yesterday that Jeremy Corbyn does not consider himself to be wealthy despite earning five times the average worker’s wage.

The newspaper went on to report that Mr Corbyn’s salary as MP for Islington is just under £75,000 this year, but that he was also entitled to an additional £63,000 as leader of the opposition, giving a total of £138,000.


But this figure fails to mention Mr Corbyn's pension from Unison (NUPE), his state retirement pension which he is entitled to draw being 67 years of age, his exceedingly generous final salary pension arrangements as an MP which are 'banked' for the moment and his £600,000 house in north London.

Not just that, of course, because Mr Corbyn has been a member of the House of Commons for the past 33 years during which time his MP's salary amounted to around £2.5 million (at today's prices) and he has also enjoyed outside earning with Iranian state TV, for example, for which he was paid $27,000 between 2009 and 2012.

So Jezza's way more than just comfortably off, if you ask me.