Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Glasgow Equal Pay News



Here's another reader from Glasgow who doesn't pull her punches when to comes to the trade unions (the GMB in particular) and union membership fees.

Hi Mark

Just read your blog in relation to the letter GMB has sent out to their members.  As you said GMB DO CHARGE for their services (monthly membership fees) so their members are not receiving anything they haven't paid for.  

WAS a member of that union for 15 years so you can imagine the amount of fees i have paid over the years and received absolutely nothing in return.  

The letter states that GMB are waiting on the outcome of the JE and WPBR before they will decide on any action.  Once again they are sitting back and leaving all the hard work to others, i.e. Action 4 Equality Scotland.

If the court does come back in favor of the female workers, GMB members will lose out once again, as all new claims will only go back 5 years.  The leaders of the trade union should be wearing masks, as they have robbed their female members blind for years and continue to do so.  

A4ES, however, have consistently supported and fought a hard battle on behalf of the female workers since day one.  The cost for your service is fair and excellent value for money.  The volume of GMB members who have transferred their claims over to A4ES speaks for itself.

Keep up the amazing work, it is very much appreciated.  


S


  

Glasgow Equal Pay News (21/06/17)



A kind reader from sent me a copy of a letter circulated to GMB members in Glasgow City Council regarding the long-running fight for equal pay.

Here's what the letter says - Gary Smith, by the way, is the GMB regional secretary in Scotland.

Dear Colleague,

I am just writing to you to assure you that our Solicitors Thompsons are pursuing a claim relating to Equal Pay/Pay Protection on your behalf.  As a member of GMB Scotland you do not pay any legal fees and neither the Union or Thompsons will take any of the money you receive, this is unlike those who are with private Solicitors.

It will take time to sort out payments that are due to individuals.  It is a huge undertaking and is likely to take many months.

There is another legal appeal over the Job Evaluation Scheme that we want to hear about.

Depending on the result of that appeal we may have to take action, but at this stage you do not have to do anything.

GMB Scotland and Thompsons as our Lawyers will keep you advised of progress.


Yours sincerely,


Gary Smith

Now what I find odd about this letter is the claim that GMB members do not pay legal fees because they obviously do, in the sense that most union members in Glasgow have been paying their union contributions (fees) for years. 

And the GMB's legal service is, of course, paid out of these union membership contributions which must run to millions of pounds in Glasgow over the past 12 years or so. 

Yet still the GMB decided to restricted its members equal pay claims in Glasgow to only 3 years, as the union did in North Lanarkshire for example, instead of following Action 4 Equality Scotland's lead by challenging the Council's JE scheme and WPBR pay arrangements. 

Now the GMB has known about this situation for a very long time, yet Gary Smith says "we want to hear about" the JES and WPBR challenge.

"We may have to take action," says Gary without explaining why or what any further  action might involve after all this time.

A4ES does charge its clients a success fee of 10% plus VAT (12%) so claimants keep the lion's share of their settlement and there are no 'up front' charges - unlike the trade unions.

But the reason for charging a 'success fee' is that A4ES provides a very professional, reliable service and doesn't get into the kind of mess the GMB has created for union members in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.

  



Why Choose A4ES? (13/06/17)



Here's another in my series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council.

Why pursue a claim with A4ES?

Put simply it is because we have a track record of getting our clients much more than the trade unions have achieved for their members. 


Remember in Glasgow when we started the claims in August 2005 the unions immediately agreed a compensation scheme with the council which meant that the women received only about 25% of the value of their claims 

Whereas A4ES clients who didn't accept the Council's original offer (in the run-up to Christmas 2005) almost always ended up with considerably better settlements. 

The same thing happened in many other councils including North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire where our non-manual clients often received five times the amount that the local trade unions agreed to settle for. 

The unions say that they provide a free legal service, but members are obviously paying for this service through their union dues, but arguably without very much to show in return as far as equal pay is concerned.

See the example below from South Lanarkshire Council where the local trade unions actively discouraged their own members from pursuing equal pay claims against the Labour-run council.

Yet during the long fight for equal pay the trade unions have collected millions of pounds from their low paid women members in union subscriptions while failing to defend their interests properly

The more clients who join up with A4ES the greater the leverage we have with the unions and the council to ensure that a fair deal is reached.

  


Can I Have My Money Back?
14 August 2015

Unison contributions or membership fees operate on a sliding scale based on what people earn - £1.30 a month for a salary of up to £2,000 and a maximum of £22.50 a month for those earning over £35,000 a year.

The 5th point on this scale is £7.85 a month which is paid by members earning £11,001 to £14,000 a year - and that seems like a reasonable figure to use as the contribution Unison members pay on average in your average Unison branch.

So let's apply that figure to Unison in South Lanarkshire and calculate how much the union has collected or earned in contributions from members in places like Hamilton, East Kilbride, Rutherglen and Lanark over the past 14 years. 


Now I'm using 14 years for a good reason - because the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement was signed by Unison and the Scottish council employers - including South Lanarkshire Council - just over 14 years ago.

The South Lanarkshire Unison branch claims to have 6,000 members on its books - so let's say only 5,000 of that number (a conservative figure) are directly employed by South Lanarkshire Council. 


5,000 members x £7.85 x 12 months x 14 years = £6,594,000 (£6.59 million UK pounds) - which is a whole lot of money by any standards, but the serious question I'd like to pose is this:

"Does anyone in their right mind believe that Unison members in South Lanarkshire have received value for money for their £6.59 million - especially in the fight for Equal Pay over the past 14 years?" 


I suspect not and if I were a Unison member in South Lanarkshire Council - I'd be asking for a full refund or in the words of the famous Gerry Rafferty song 'Can I Have My Money Back?'.

Ama Wrang?

Canada’s Tim Hortons is known for its retro-style branding.

A friend sent me this joke about the new Tim Horton's coffee shop in Glasgow which, of course, can only be understood if spoken with a local Glaswegian accent:

Glaswegian Customer: Is that a doughnut or a meringue?

Tim Horton Server: Naw, you're right - it's a meringue!


  


Coffee Fan (26/06/17)

Canada’s Tim Hortons is known for its retro-style branding.

The Guardian reports that Time Horton's is breaking into the UK coffee market with its first shop now opened on Glasgow's Argyll Street right next to Central Station.

I must pay it a visit, not because I particularly like coffee or donuts, but because my mother used to visit Tim Horton's just about every day she told me when she spent time over in Canada looking after her grandchildren.

So it will bring back a few happy memories and all for the price of a cup of coffee.

  



Always fresh? Canada's Tim Hortons coffee chain steams into UKCompany fabled for donuts and sugary ‘double double’ plans more British outlets after European debut in Glasgow but is it here too late in the day?

By Rebecca Smithers - The Guardian

Canadian company Tim Hortons is to open its first UK coffee shop in May, entering the crowded but still growing British market for food and drink on the go.

Promising to bring its “signature coffee, delicious food and Canadian charm” to the UK, the chain’s first UK coffee shop – also its first in Europe – will be on Argyle Street in central Glasgow, with further outlets planned in other city centre locations around the country.

The company is seeking to cash in on the UK’s fast-growing coffee market – where it faces intense competition from major players such as Starbucks and Costa, independent chains and low-cost operators.

Tim Hortons – known for its red and white vintage-style branding – was founded in 1964 by its namesake (Miles “Tim” Horton), a professional ice hockey player who wanted to create cafes where everyone would feel at home.

Since then the brand has grown to become an ingrained part of Canadian culture, dominating its home market with locations in nearly every city and small town. It claims eight out of 10 cups of coffee sold across Canada are served at Tim Hortons, which is owned by Restaurant Brands International.

A recent report from Mintel showed the UK retail coffee market was worth £137m in 1997, but by 2016 it had ballooned to an estimated £3.4bn. Almost £1bn of this growth has come since 2011, making the UK an attractive proposition for international coffee shop chains.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Glasgow Equal Pay News



I get lots of emails daily basis, but some are more upsetting than others such as this enquiry from a former Home Carer in Glasgow. 

Dear Mark,

I was given your email address today by a lady who is a retired carer.

She said l may be eligible to claim compensation for the time l was employed by Glasgow City Council. I was contracted to work weekends and l did so for around 18yrs.

When l started there offices were in Crookston and then moved to Glasgow and I worked in Clarkston, Muirend, Netherlee and Shawlands.

l finished working in home care around 2009 due to increased stress in the job affecting my health. No one from the council or the unions ever contacted me about the compensation that was due to female employees.

I am now in my 65th year and recently recovered from breast cancer.

I would be grateful if you could take on my case as security is a good thing to have at a time when your feeling vulnerable. 

l do hope this is not out of order for me to contact you.

Yours Sincerely,



XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX


Dear A

I'm afraid that you would not be able to raise a claim at this stage because you left Glasgow City Council's employment more than 5 years ago.

I have explained the situation in more details on my blog site - www.action4equalityscotland.blogspot.com - but essentially there is a time limit involved which means that claimants only have five years in which to register a claim which, in your case, expired in 2014.

I am very sorry not to have been of more help on this occasion.

Kind regards


Mark


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.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX


Thank you Mark for getting back to me. 

I've never had anything I didn't work hard for. 

It's just galling knowing how much l did  do in the job above and beyond the call....so l wont be retiring any time soon 

😉

Regards,


A

Best wishes


Now what really gets my goat is that the City Council and trade unions in Glasgow kept all these women workers in the dark for years, quite deliberately, and it was only when Action 4 Equality arrived on the scene (in 2005) that people started to get the message about the big pay differences between traditional male and female jobs.

Even then the trade unions joined forces with senior council management to ensure that employees received poor '1st Wave' settlements and much less than they were entitled to under 'Equal Pay - Compensation Payments'.

The message about registering a claim clearly didn't reach every council employee which is why people like 'A' got left behind.

But the curious thing to note is that trade unions don't behave this way when they have a Political Fund Ballot, or in an election for general secretary or an industrial action ballot - in which case every single member is involved in the process.

Yet when it comes to equal pay the unions, in many cases, have left people to fight for themselves. 


  


DIY and Equal Pay (02/03/14)




A number of readers have been in touch about the post on advice to union members over equal pay - from around the country and not just South Lanarkshire.

A typical comment is that their union is not interested and tells people they should have registered an equal pay claim - that this was their individual responsibility not the union's acting collectively.

Now this is a very odd stance to take if you have ask me, because when trade unions try to sign up new members they make a positive case about of the benefits of union membership and actively persuade people to join.

In other words it's not a spectator sport, so where did this DIY approach to equal pay come from all of a sudden?

And if you think about it for a minute it's a completely barmy attitude for a collective body like a trade union to take - because unions don't behave this way when it comes to strike ballots for example.

In a strike ballot every single trade union member is issued with a ballot paper and is encouraged to support whatever dispute is underway - in practice the members' views count and the union is keen to secure their backing, so they pull out the stops even though the law law lays down certain rules as well. 

Likewise when it comes to the Political Fund and union efforts to encourage their members to support the Labour Party, a topical issue at the moment, but again the unions get in there and get their hands dirty - they don't sit on the sidelines.    

So how is it possible to say, with a straight face at least, that when it comes to equal pay the members are (or were) all on their own?

If you ask me, that sounds terribly odd, inconsistent and unfair.   

 


Local Heroes



If this article by Cat Stewart in the Evening Times is anything to go by, I have one or two admirers out there in the 'airts and pairts' of Glasgow. 

Now I don't know about being a hero because the people who showed real courage if you ask me, were the women who stood up to their employers, but throughout my life I have always taken the side of the 'little guy' when it comes to a scrap with the 'big guy'.

And the long fight for equal pay is a good example.

Because Scotland's powerful local councils betrayed a very low paid, largely female workforce, after agreeing to sweep away years of pay discrimination, while the politically connected trade unions looked the other way and failed to stand up for their members' interests.   

So when this is all over we must get together in a suitable Glasgow hostelry to celebrate over a few drinks.


  

Women in Glasgow's equal pay row thank their 'unsung hero'



By Catriona Stewart @LadyCatHT - The Evening Times


Women in Glasgow's equal pay row thank their 'unsung hero'

WOMEN celebrating winning a £100 million equal pay claim have paid tribute to the “unsung hero” who supported them.

Glasgow City Council’s equal pay wrangle has gone on for more than a decade but a Court of Session ruling last week now means thousands of women can make claims against the authority.

Some 6000 of these women have been championed by former senior trade union figure Mark Irvine.

Now they are lining up to thank him for the work he has done on their behalves.

Jackie Brennan has been a carer for 17 years and said: “Mark has been very much more supportive than the unions.

“I’m so grateful to him that I can’t find the right words.

“If we had this money sooner it would have made a huge difference. People were doing overtime for a long, long time - that’s time we could have spent with our families.”

The women involved in the equal pay claim are those in jobs looking after the residents of the city: carers, caterers and cleaners.

It was found that men in manual jobs were being paid more than female staff in jobs requiring the same or greater skill levels and were entitled to bonuses the women were not.

The claim goes back to 1999 when the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement was struck between Scotland’s council employers and the unions.

Not all councils rectified pay discrepancies with Glasgow City Council dragging its heels the longest.

In 2005 the council offered lump sum payments to women - but still did not change their pay.

Mr Irvine views the situation at that time as women being “bought off” so they would not pursue their quest for equal pay further.

He said: “If the unions had been doing their jobs properly at that time we would not have taken more than a decade to get to this point.”

Donna Cassidy, who has worked as a carer for 15 years, had been in the job for 18 months when she first heard about the equal pay claim.

She was one of the women who signed a lump sum deal in 2005 - but then found out she could be entitled to equal pay and joined with Action 4 Equality Scotland, run by Mark.

Mrs Cassidy said: “My son was only a year old at the time and I was busy with him. You would finish your shift and then go home for your day to begin again. I was too tired and busy to understand all the details.

“This time I feel I know everything because of Mark and how he has kept us informed. I cannot thank him enough.”

New council leader Susan Aitken said her administration accepts the need to address the fact female staff are excluded from some salary schemes.

Mr Irvine said: “People will get the recognition they deserve. The best laid plans of people in the council to avoid paying out this money have all come unstuck.

“My mum worked in these kind of jobs all her life then she was supported by home carers before she died.”

Frances Stojilkovic, who was a carer and is now a coordinator has 14 years service. She said: “The news last week was amazing.

“It’s also very sad as there are colleagues I have worked with all these years who have passed away.

“Mark is amazing and if it wasn’t for him fighting we wouldn’t have won the victory.

“Mark deserves the credit for this win - if it wasn’t for him fighting we would have nothing.”

In response to the praise for the women he has helped, Mr Irvine said: “I will leave people to make up their own minds.

“I am just doing what I have done all my life: stand up and not let the little guys have the wool pulled over their eyes by the big guys.

“There are stories that would make you weep. One woman has terminal cancer now, many have died.

“They could have spend this money on their families.

“It is damnable that people could have been treated this way.”


Coffee Fan

Canada’s Tim Hortons is known for its retro-style branding.

The Guardian reports that Time Horton's is breaking into the UK coffee market with its first shop now opened on Glasgow's Argyll Street right next to Central Station.

I must pay it a visit, not because I particularly like coffee or donuts, but because my mother used to visit Tim Horton's just about every day she told me when she spent time over in Canada looking after her grandchildren.

So it will bring back a few happy memories and all for the price of a cup of coffee.

  



Always fresh? Canada's Tim Hortons coffee chain steams into UK

Company fabled for donuts and sugary ‘double double’ plans more British outlets after European debut in Glasgow but is it here too late in the day?

By Rebecca Smithers - The Guardian

Canadian company Tim Hortons is to open its first UK coffee shop in May, entering the crowded but still growing British market for food and drink on the go.

Promising to bring its “signature coffee, delicious food and Canadian charm” to the UK, the chain’s first UK coffee shop – also its first in Europe – will be on Argyle Street in central Glasgow, with further outlets planned in other city centre locations around the country.

The company is seeking to cash in on the UK’s fast-growing coffee market – where it faces intense competition from major players such as Starbucks and Costa, independent chains and low-cost operators.

Tim Hortons – known for its red and white vintage-style branding – was founded in 1964 by its namesake (Miles “Tim” Horton), a professional ice hockey player who wanted to create cafes where everyone would feel at home.

Since then the brand has grown to become an ingrained part of Canadian culture, dominating its home market with locations in nearly every city and small town. It claims eight out of 10 cups of coffee sold across Canada are served at Tim Hortons, which is owned by Restaurant Brands International.

A recent report from Mintel showed the UK retail coffee market was worth £137m in 1997, but by 2016 it had ballooned to an estimated £3.4bn. Almost £1bn of this growth has come since 2011, making the UK an attractive proposition for international coffee shop chains.