Friday, 30 June 2017

Glasgow and Equal Pay



Here's the letter from the GMB's Gary Smith which I mentioned briefly on the blog site yesterday. 

GS/LHC
29th June 2017

Dear GMB Member,

The legal action around Pay Protection / Equal Pay has been long and drawn out. The whole situation with Equal Pay is complex and it is further complicated by the appeal over the Glasgow City Council job evaluation process. As a union we have tried to communicate as best we can on the union's position on the cases.

As you know private solicitors are also involved in the cases against Glasgow City Council. These solicitors are driven by profit. They make money from the claimants they represent. The private solicitors will take money from any settlement. That is not the case with members of GMB Scotland. Every penny GMB Scotland secures for you through our solicitors Thompsons will go to you as an individual. We believe Thompsons are the preeminent Equal Pay lawyers in Scotland that's why we have appointed them to represent your interests.

We understand that some of the private solicitors appear to be making comments about the GMB and the trade unions in general which are causing confusion and concern to our members. GMB Scotland will not be responding to all the comments made by the private solicitors. When we have something we can communicate to our members we will and it will be done in a totally transparent way.

I understand that our staff at GMB Scotland have received a few abusive phone calls. I know this whole issue is frustrating for members but I will not tolerate our staff being abused; they are just workers like everyone else. If anyone feels that their interests would be better served by the private lawyers then they are free transfer their case to them.

Those who are members of GMB Scotland can be assured our lawyers will do all they can to get your equal pay claim resolved as soon as possible. If we need to take action over job evaluation, after the appeal judgement is known, we will. GMB Scotland will also communicate with you in an absolutely open and transparent fashion as and when there is something of substance to say. Above all as a member of GMB Scotland you can be assured that any money due to you will be paid to you, it is not going to line the pockets of fat cat private lawyers.

It should never be forgotten that the responsibility for all the problems with equal pay ultimately lie with Glasgow City Council. It was Glasgow City Council who discriminated against you and spent a fortune of tax payers’ money in the courts trying to defend the indefensible. Thank you for your patience and ongoing support

-2-

We hope to have a further communication with members this afternoon. If you have any queries on the above, please feel free to email me on

gary.smith@gmb.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Gary Smith

Gary Smith

GMB Scotland Secretary

GMB SCOTLAND – PROTECTING YOU AT WORK

General Secretary: Paul Kenny Acting Regional Secretary: Gary Smith Fountain House, 1/3 Woodside Crescent, Charing Cross, Glasgow G3 7UJ Tel: 0141 332 8641/9501 Fax: 0141 332 4491 - 
www.gmb.org.uk

Now there are so many things wrong with Gary's letter I hardly know where to begin, but let's make start by reminding readers that:
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow kept their low paid women members in the dark for years about the pay differences between male and female jobs
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to 'cap' the Equal Pay Compensation Payments at a maximum of £9,000
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to exclude any overtime working from the Equal Pay Compensation Payments
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to exclude certain categories of employee, e.g. School Janitors, from the Equal Pay Compensation Payments
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to impose an even lower settlement cap (than £9,000) on certain categories of employee, e.g. Classroom Assistants
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow agreed with City Council management to ditch the job evaluation scheme (JES) recommended by the national unions (and COSLA) in favour of an 'in-house' JE scheme and WPBR developed by an external consultant
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow never once threatened strike action to bring the pay of the City's Council's largely female workforce into line with the much higher pay of their bonus earning male comparators 
  • the local trade unions in Glasgow threatened strike action to gain special treatment for the many 'red circled' and former bonus earning jobs (after the WPBR was introduced) - and were given a guarantee in the shape of the Employee Development Commitment (EDC) that   the earnings of these male dominated jobs would be maintained at their pre-WPBR levels
In other words if, as Gary Smith claims, Glasgow City Council was ultimately responsible for this widespread pay discrimination and "spent a fortune of tax payers' money trying to defend the indefensible" - why did the trade unions support senior managers instead standing up for the interests of their lowest paid members? 

I will have more to say on this subject in the days ahead, but if you agree that the GMB is engaged in a shameless attempt to 'rewrite history', then drop me a note as I'll be interested to hear what readers have to say.

  


Glasgow Equal Pay News (20/06/17)


I said the other day that I would explain more about the staff groups who were deliberately excluded (by the City Council and local trade unions) from receiving 'Equal Pay - Compensation Payments' back in 2005.

So here you are:
  • Clerical staff in council offices
  • Clerical staff in council schools
  • Male workers in non-bonus earning jobs
  • School Janitors (despite being on high Manual Worker grades)
  • Special Needs Drivers (even though they had to hold special licences)
  • All City Council employees with less than 1 year's service - despite having claims worth up to several thousand pounds (depending on hours worked)
I find it interesting that the trade unions bitterly criticise the government over workers being denied 'employment rights' until they complete a year's service - they (rightly in my view) campaign for employee rights from Day 1.

Yet when it comes to the fight for 'Equal Pay' the local trade unions ganged up with senior management to deny compensation to any council employee with less than 1 year's service.

Amazing - and completely hypocritical into the bargain!

Not just that, of course, because the unions agreed with the decision to exclude Admin & Clerical staff from compensation payments and then wrongly advised hundreds of non-bonus earning male workers, e.g. Janitors and Special Needs Drivers, that Equal Pay was only for women!

No wonder 80% of equal pay claimants in Glasgow City Council are pursuing their cases with Action 4 Equality Scotland.

  


Glasgow Equal Pay News (19/06/17)


Here is some more information about the 'Equal Pay - Compensation Payments' agreed between Glasgow City Council and the local trade unions back in 2005.

As regular readers know, these payments were highly controversial in a variety of ways:
  • Payments were capped in a completely arbitrary fashion, without a proper explanation, and a maximum ceiling of  £9,000 imposed
  • Pupil Support Assistants, Child Development Officers and others received widely varying, often derisory payments - again without a full explanation of the differences in pay with male comparator jobs
  • People were credited with contracted hours only - no credit whatsoever was given for overtime working which was very prevalent (and still is) in some parts of the Council
  • Many groups were deliberately excluded  for these payments despite having perfectly valid claims - more to follow on this issue shortly 
Under the 'Questions and Answers' section the document says "Staff can also contact their Trade Union to ask for further guidance" reinforcing the message that this whole business was carefully worked out and agreed with the local unions.

More to follow on the 'excluded groups' - so watch this space.

  

Glasgow Equal Pay News (17/06/17)


I promised the other day to share information on the blog site about the 'Equal Pay Compensation Payments' agreed between Glasgow City Council and the local trade unions back in 2005.

So here's an extract from an official document that the City Council published at the time which confirms that senior management and the unions really were working 'hand in glove'.

"Equal Pay - Compensation Payments"
"What is Glasgow City Council doing about Equal Pay?

"The Council, in partnership with the Trade Unions, has begun the process of tackling financial inequality in the workplace through the offer of compensation payments.

"All staff who are being offered a compensation payment are being provided with information about what the Council and Trade Unions have negotiated.

"Remember: Both the Council and Trade Unions are working jointly." 

Over the next week or so I'll share further extracts from this document which will explain how the council's lowest paid workers were effectively 'duped' into accepting very low offers of settlement - when what they really deserved was equal pay with their male comparators. 

As I said the other day, I am happy to discuss and debate these issues with the local trade unions in Glasgow.



   

Impossible Things

Image result for having your cake and eating it

My understanding of Labour party policy on Brexit is that its leader firmly support the UK leaving the European Union (EU), so long as the country continues to enjoy all the benefits of being a member of the EU.

Which sounds like the political equivalent of being a little bit pregnant, if you ask me - it's the same as having your slice of cake and eating it at the same time.

In the first test of his leadership since the general election, Jeremy Corbyn yesterday ordered Labour MPs to abstain over a vote in the House of Commons to stay within the Single Market and the Customs Union, both of which have major implications for jobs and future growth in the UK economy.

Three shadow ministers (Ruth Cadbury, Andy Slaughter and Catherine West), were sacked for defying their leader's order and and a fourth (Daniel Zeichner) resigned before he could be shown the door.

UK politics has an 'Alice in Wonderland' feel to it these days with arch-rebel Jeremy Corbyn demanding loyalty from his troops and believing that 'six impossible things before breakfast' is perfectly realistic.

Which is complete nonsense, of course, as the UK's mad march towards Brexit will show us all in the weeks and months ahead. 

   


A Question of Leadership (29/06/17)

Image result for EU single market + images



The big political news on Twitter right now is that Jeremy Corbyn is to whip Labour MPs into 'abstaining' on an amendment which would commit to membership of the EU's single market.

Now given that the majority of Labour supporters voted to remain in the Europe, along with the majority of Scots and a majority of young voters, you would think Jezza would set aside his personal hostility towards the EU and support this amendment from one of his own backbenchers, Labour MP Chuka Umanna.

Because an awful lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the EU referendum in June 2016 which never specifically asked voters for their views on the pros and cons of leaving the Single Market and/or the Customs Union.

      

Trump's Election Promises



Donald Trump's election promises are proving to be as elusive finding the perfect golf swing - although in the case of the latter it's certainly not for the want of trying.

  

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Breaking News!!

Image result for breaking news + images

A kind reader has sent me a copy of a letter on the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council from the GMB regional secretary, Gary Smith.  

I haven't laughed so much in a long time, so tune in again tomorrow to read my thoughts on what Gary has to say.


    

A Question of Leadership

Image result for EU single market + images

The big political news on Twitter right now is that Jeremy Corbyn is to whip Labour MPs into 'abstaining' on an amendment which would commit to membership of the EU's single market.

Now given that the majority of Labour supporters voted to remain in the Europe, along with the majority of Scots and a majority of young voters, you would think Jezza would set aside his personal hostility towards the EU and support this amendment from one of his own backbenchers, Labour MP Chuka Umanna.

Because an awful lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the EU referendum in June 2016 which never specifically asked voters for their views on the pros and cons of leaving the Single Market and/or the Customs Union.

   

Glasgow Equal Pay News



Lots of readers in Glasgow have been in touch to ask for more information about the basis of people's equal pay claims and the backdating arrangements that may apply.

Now the Court of Session has effectively ruled that the pay of the women claimants in Glasgow City Council should have been brought into line with that of their male comparators and that, subsequently, the women should have been provided with the same pay protection arrangements as the men - see post below dated 31 May 2017.

The big question is how long these pay protections arrangements lasted because the trade unions, of course, threatened to go on strike if the higher (bonus related) pay of the was not maintained going forward from 2006/07 - the so-called Employee Development Commitment (EDC).

So if the male workers who benefited from the EDC still enjoy much higher pay that the women claimants in 2017, then it can obviously be argued that the women workers deserve equal treatment and that's certainly the stance that Action 4 Equality Scotland will be taking.  

I'm sure people will reflect on the fact that the local trade unions in Glasgow never once threatened strike action in order to bring the much lower pay of the women workers into line with their male comparators.

If the second part of the Court of Session appeal is upheld, the Council's job evaluation scheme (JES) and its WPBR pay arrangements are in even bigger trouble because this will trigger a new 'Second Wave' claim on the basis that the Council cannot justify the big pay differences between male and female jobs, quite separately from its Pay Protection Scheme (PPS) which was originally supposed to end in 2009.

An existing A4ES client would then have a claim going back to 2006/07 (depending when it was first registered) until the present date (June 2017) and also going forward until the claim is finally resolved.

Council employees who have not already registered an equal pay claim could do so if the Council's JES and WPBR are found to be 'unsound' and those claims would jump back 5 years and count going forward as well until the claim is resolved.

As ever, the local trade unions are talking nonsense and the GMB is not even part of the A4ES led challenge, in the Court of Session, to the City Council's JES and its WPBR pay arrangements. 

GMB members' claims are, as you know, restricted to the original end date for the pay protection scheme (PPS), i.e. April 2009.

   



Glasgow - The Next Steps (31/05/17)


Lots of readers have been in touch to ask about the 'next steps' in the fight for equal pay with Glasgow City Council which was given a huge boost with yesterday's victory in the Court of Session.

The City Council is now under new management following the local elections on 4 May 2017 and the new council leader, Cllr Susan Aitken, has already stated publicly that there will be no further appeals. 

So, presumably the City Council has finally realised that it's in a big hole and the first thing to do is to 'stop digging'.


Next Steps

The Court of Session appeal hearings in Edinburgh considered two main issues:
  • the pay protection arrangements put in place by Glasgow City Council (GCC) following the introduction of its WPBR pay scheme in 2006/07
  • the job evaluation (JE) side of the WPBR and its component parts - Core Pay, WCD and NSWP - which has been challenged by A4ES
The judgment of the court on 'pay protection' has gone in favour of the claimants and the previous decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal has been upheld - a further decision is now awaited on the job evaluation (JE) aspects of Glasgow's WPBR pay arrangements.

A4ES is now preparing to seize the initiative and move things forward.


Protection Period Claims

Winning pay protection in the Court of Session means that a further entitlement is now triggered for all existing claimants for the period from 2006/07 onwards - and at least until 2009.

If you ask, it's also very possible that pay protection claims could extend well beyond 2009 because Glasgow’s arrangements did not stop after just 3 years, as a result of the Council's Employee Development Commitment (EDC).

The EDC gave a guarantee (to male workers only) that the higher earnings of former bonus earning jobs, e.g. Gravediggers, Gardeners etc would be maintained at their previous levels  and without limit of time.

The trade unions threatened strike action to gain this further EDC concession from the Council, but this applied only to the former bonus earning, male comparator jobs.

For all their brave talk about championing equal pay the trade unions in Glasgow never threatened a similar campaign of industrial action to bring women workers' pay into line with their male comparators.

So thousands of female dominated women jobs lost out including: Home Carers, Cooks, Cleaners, Catering Workers, Clerical Staff, Classroom Assistants etc.


Glasgow's JE Scheme

If the Court of Session upholds the challenge to the JE scheme (WPBR) existing claimants will have further 'second wave' entitlement from 2006/07 to date (i.e. 2017) and also going forward until these cases are finally resolved.

If the Court of Session finds the WPBR to be unsatisfactory and not ‘fit for purpose’, this will opens up a whole new raft of claims for employees who have not registered an equal pay claim up until now. For existing council employees, a newly registered claim would jump back 5 years, in time i.e. to 2012, but could still be very significant.

Former employees may also be able to register new claims by taking action in the Sheriff Court (instead of the Employment Tribunals) which would potentially help thousands of ex-GCC workers who left their employment over the past 5 years  without registering an equal pay claim.

A4ES is now prepared to consider lodging new claims on the basis that these will be actively pursued in the event of a favourable judgement from the Court of Session in respect of the City Council's JE and WPBR pay arrangements. 

Waiting until the decision is actually released and its implications assessed will delay the starting date of any new claim, so it makes sense for potential claimants to act now and protect their interests.


Settlement Discussions with GCC

A4ES remains willing to enter into settlement discussions with the City Council, but the previous Labour-run administration failed to engage seriously on this issue between August 2016 and January 2017.

So before any serious negotiations could get underway, the City Council would need to ‘open the books', as it were, to allow the size and scale of any possible settlement to be fairly and properly assessed. 

Up until now the City Council has failed to deliver the pay information to explain fully the workings of the WPBR or, for example, its Employee Development Commitment to former bonus earning workers.


Enquiries and Further Information

If any readers in Glasgow would like to pursue this further, please contact Action 4 Equality Scotland at the following email address: enquiries@action4equality.co.uk - or ring A4ES on: 0131 659 9958. 

If you cannot get through by phone straight away (because of the volumes of calls), please leave a message and someone will get back to you as quickly as possible.


   

Glasgow - New Claims


Lots of readers have been in touch to ask for advice on the following hot topic: 

"Can I pursue a new equal pay claim with Action 4 Equality Scotland?"

Now the answer to this question is 'Yes', by and large, for the reasons explained below, but please note there are different categories of potential new claimants.

Can existing council employees raise new claims?

Existing Glasgow employees who have never before registered a claim can do so now because the recent Court of Session decision has thrown a big spanner into the works of the City Council's pay protection arrangements.

As regular readers know, the Court has already decided that the pay protection scheme (PPS) should have been extended to the claimants' jobs as well as the jobs of the former bonus earning (male) comparators.  

The PPS should have ended after three years, but the judges also noted that the City Council's Employee Development Commitment (EDC) gave further protection to these male comparator jobs without any limit of time, after the threat of industrial action by the unions.

So all Glasgow employees, even those who do not currently have a claim, have the ability to argue that their jobs should receive the same treatment as their male comparators.

If the Court of Session goes on to find the City Council's job evaluation (JE) scheme is 'unfit for purpose', this will simply reinforce the case for claimant jobs to receive equal treatment.  

Can I still claim even if I left the Council's employment some time ago?

Yes, following a recent decision by the UK Supreme Court it is now possible to make claims in the Sheriff Court and then have them transferred over to the Employment Tribunal. 


In Scotland the maximum period claimants can go back is 5 years.

So if you left the council more than five years ago then you will not be able to claim. There is also a slightly higher initial fee to be paid by going down the Sheriff Court route, but this will be paid upfront by A4ES and recovered from claimants' settlements.

Can I transfer my existing equal pay claim from the GMB to Action 4 Equality Scotland?

Again the answer is 'Yes' although this has to be qualified slightly because the GMB has a terrible track record for making a mess of their members equal pay claims.

In North Lanarkshire, for example, the GMB restricted its members claims to only 3 years unlike all the other claimant organisations who followed Action 4 Equality Scotland's lead.

The GMB appears to have done the same in Glasgow where the union is not challenging the EDC Pay Protection Scheme (PPS) and is not part of the second appeal in the Court of Session regarding the City Council's job evaluation (JE) scheme and the WPBR pay arrangements.

The A4ES legal team would obviously need to assess GMB cases on an individual basis to ensure that they can be taken forward and have not been compromised in some way.


How do I make new equal pay claim with Action 4 Equality Scotland?

In one of the following ways:


    

Red Sky at Night



Last night's weather forecast for Glasgow predicted a cloudy end to the evening and a very rainy start to the day - neither of which proved to be true as this photo shows.

  

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Breaking News!!

Image result for breaking news + images

Lots of readers from Glasgow have been in touch to ask for more information on the basis of their equal pay claims against the City Council and the backdating arrangements that may apply when these claims are settled.

I'll have much more to say on the subject tomorrow - so watch this space! 

    

Glasgow Equal Pay News



A number of A4ES clients have been in touch to say that they have received another unsolicited letter from the GMB union, via something called UnionLine, enclosing an ET1 form which is blank except for the City Council's address. 

As I've said previously, there is no need for A4ES clients to do anything about these letters except perhaps to thrown them in the bin. 

For reasons known only to itself, the GMB union keeps writing to long-standing clients whom A4ES has been representing for years, in many cases, and some people understandably get anxious when they receive this kind of correspondence right out of the blue. 

A4ES will be in touch directly with everyone who has received one of these 'nuisance' letters and will deal with any issues that need to be clarified with the Employment Tribunals.  

  



Glasgow Equal Pay News (25/06/17)


The GMB in Glasgow is proving to be a bit of a nuisance because the union keeps sending unsolicited letters to A4ES clients - even when they are no longer members of the GMB!

Here's what one person had to say recently to Karl in the A4ES office: 

Thanks very much for the call back today.


When I contacted GMB they claimed the union was also representing me, but this is definitely not the case as you confirmed to me today that Action 4 Equality Scotland and Stefan Cross have been pursuing my equal pay claim for the past 12 years.

GMB are now requesting I write to them and ask that they no longer are expected to represent me. This doesn't seem right considering I'm being represented by yourself?

Bottom line is I want to ensure it's yourselves representing me and would appreciate if you could reply to this email to settle my mind.

Best Regards


M

Now as I said in a previous post (see below), the best thing A4ES client can do with any unsolicited letters from the GMB is to ignore them - chuck them in the bin if you like!

Action 4 Equality Scotland will deal with this on your behalf and there is no need for A4ES clients to explain anything to the GMB.

So just sit tight and keep you eye on the blog site for the latest news on the blog site for all the latest news on the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council.