Saturday, 25 March 2017

Loudmouth President



The Independent reports that Donald Trump's healthcare bill (Trumpcare) has fallen at its first hurdled that rather predictably America's loudmouth President has gone on to blame everyone bar himself. 

Although here's one of Foghorn's previous Tweets on the 'art of the deal'.
Now this couldn't happen to a nicer person, if you ask me - read the full story via the following link to The Independent.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-healthcare-bill-postponed-obamacare-republican-leaders-a7649201.html

  


Donald Trump forced to kill healthcare bill after failing to win Republican support for vote in Congress

US President says he 'learned a lot about loyalty' in the process of the bill failure
By Mythili Sampathkumar - The Independent
House Speaker Paul Ryan announces the Republican plan to replace Obamacare has been pulled and the vote postponed - REUTERS

Donald Trump's flagship healthcare bill has been killed off after failing to secure enough support from Republicans, in a major embarrassment for the US President during his first attempt at passing legislation through the House.

The decision, made just minutes before the vote was due to take place, will be viewed as a significant set back for Mr Trump, who has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan told Mr Trump just ahead of the scheduled Friday vote that there were too many dissenting Republicans to pass the American Health Care Act. The White House could only afford to have 22 Republicans vote 'no' on the bill.

Glasgow's Pay Arrangements



Here's the response I received from Glasgow City Council in response to my FoI request regarding the remuneration package received by Ian Drummond on leaving the council's employment back in 2010-2011.

Now I asked Glasgow City City Council for a breakdown of Mr Drummond's leaving package when his employment ended - the council's full response is reproduced below, but here's my summary of the figures. 
  1. £ 132,051 (Salary fees and allowances)
  2. £ 109,303 (Compensation for loss of office)
  3. £   10.201 (Election duties)
  4. £ 251,555 (Sub Total)
  5. £   56,000 (Annual Pension)
  6. £ 155,000 (Pension lump sum - tax free)
  7. £ 462,555 (Grand Total) 
So it appears that the final leaving package was £462,555 an even greater sum than the £450,628 figure reported originally in The Telegraph newspaper.

An interesting point to note is that 'Election Duties' are normally, in my experience, the responsibility of the council chief executive, but is his final year of service these duties appear to have been passed over to Mr Drummond. 

The payment involved counts for pension purposes and relates to years in which there are local councils elections and other national elections where the City Council is in overall charge of the arrangements acts as the 'returning officer'.

In any event while it's noticeable that Mr Drummond got everything he was entitled in terms of his leaving package, the City Council's lowest paid workers are still having to fight tooth and nail for equal pay.

I've lost count of the number of people who tell me they felt  'pressurised' and 'bullied' into accepting poor equal pay settlement offers (back in December 2005) without knowing what their claims were really worth - which to my mind is at odds with the way the council's lowest paid workers have been treated. 

And while I'm on the subject, I don't recall the trade unions threatening any strikes or  industrial action when the City Council's lowest paid women workers treated in this shabby fashion.

I've already submitted and FoI Review Request to the council in respect of its refusal to say whether or not Mr Drummond's 'leaving package' included additional 'added years'.

The importance of this further FoI request being whether the City Council exercised its discretion to be extra generous towards a highly paid official which may stand in stark contrast to the treatment of its lowest paid, predominantly women, workers in relation to equal pay.



  



-----Original Message-----
From: Dickson, John (Revenues) (Revenues) <John.Dickson@glasgow.gov.uk>
Sent: Wed, Mar 15, 2017 3:36 pm
Subject: FOI request



Financial Services
Glasgow City Council
Room 10
City Chambers,
Glasgow  G2
Phone 0141 287 8186
Fax 0141 287 9568
Corporate Services
Glasgow City Council
City Chambers
George Square
Glasgow   G2  1DU

Phone 0141 287 8186

Fax 0141 287 4575



Date  15 March 2017
Mr Mark Irvine
Flat 8/1
90 London Road
Glasgow
G1 5DE
Sent by email to: markirvine@compuserve.com

Dear Mr Irvine,  

Freedom Of Information  Request

I refer to your Freedom of Information request received on 16 February 2017 requesting that the following information be provided to you:

“I understand that Mr Drummond left the City Council's employment in 2010-11 and that the figure of £450,628 will have represented a 'leaving package'.
I would be grateful if you could:  
1.         Provide me with a breakdown of the £450,628 figure into its component parts, i.e annual salary, pension payments etc 
2.         Explain the basis of the 'compensation for loss of office' payment and how this payment was calculated
3.         Confirm whether Mr Drummond's remuneration package benefited from any discretionary payments, e.g. 'added years' under the Local Government Pension Scheme”

The Council is treating your request as a request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Please note, some of the information which you have requested is, in our opinion, exempt from a request under section 1 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 because of an exemption contained in s 38(1)(b) of the Act.  In other words, in our opinion disclosure of the information would involve disclosure of personal data as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998 (as amended) and that such disclosure would breach the Data Protection Principles contained in Schedule 1 Part 1 of that Act.  We are therefore unable to comply fully with your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
The information which you have requested and which can be provided is as follows :

1.         Provide me with a breakdown of the £450,628 figure into its component parts, i.e annual salary, pension payments etc 

Ø  Within the Councils 2010/11 annual accounts, as a Senior Officer, Mr Drummonds annual remuneration was detailed as follows:
4.3. Remuneration of senior employees                                                    
Year ended 31 March 2011
            
            
Remuneration           Salary fees           Compensation            Election Duties          Total
of senior                     and                        for loss of 
employees                 allowances           office               
                                    
                                                                
                                                                                
Ian Drummond          £ 132,051               £ 109,303                         £ 10,201            £251,555
Executive Director of Corporate Services
(to December 2010)
and Executive Director of Special Projects 
(from December 2010)
Thereafter, within the annual accounts, as a Senior Officer Mr Drummond’s Pension Benefit’s were detailed as such :
5.2. Pension benefits of senior employees      
In year pension contributions                     Accrued pension benefits
Pension benefits of 
senior employees                 For year to 31 March 2011               As at 31 March 2011
                        
                       
Ian Drummond                            £ 199,073                        Pension         -  £    56,000
          Lump sum     -   £ 155,000
2.         Explain the basis of the 'compensation for loss of office' payment and how this payment was calculated

Ø  Please see attachment, detailing Council’s policy on redundancy and retirement provisions for the requested period, which was approved by the Executive Committee on 13 November 2009.

3.         Confirm whether Mr Drummond's remuneration package benefited from any discretionary payments, e.g. 'added years' under the Local Government Pension Scheme”

Ø  This request relates to personal information which is exempt in terms of section 38(1)(b) the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, as explained above.

I trust the above information is of assistance. If you have any further enquiries or questions I can be contacted on telephone number 0141-287-8186 or at the noted e-mail address.
However, should you be dissatisfied with the way Glasgow City Council has dealt with your request you are entitled to require the council to review its decision.  Please note that for a review to take place you must:
Lodge a written requirement for a review within 40 working days of the date of this letter. Include a correspondence address and a 
description of the original request and the reason why you are dissatisfied.
Address your request to the :
Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council
Glasgow City Council
City Chambers
George Square
Glasgow G2 1DU




Glasgow's Pay Arrangements (19/03/17)


Here's a freedom of information (FoI) request I submitted to Glasgow City Council on 15th February 2017.

I received a response the other day which makes very interesting reading and I plan to share the details on the blog site within the next few days. 

15 February 2017
Annemarie O'Donnell
Chief Executive
Glasgow City Council

Dear Ms O'Donnell

FOISA Request

I would like to make the following request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. 
I refer to the article in The Telegraph newspaper dated 25 April 2012 which reported the remuneration package of Ian Drummond (in the previous year) as £450,628.

I understand that Mr Drummond left the City Council's employment in 2010-11 and that the figure of £450,628 will have represented a 'leaving package'.

I would be grateful if you could:  
  1. Provide me with a breakdown of the £450,628 figure into its component parts, i.e annual salary, pension payments etc 
  2. Explain the basis of the 'compensation for loss of office' payment and how this payment was calculated
  3. Confirm whether Mr Drummond's remuneration package benefited from any discretionary payments, e.g. 'added years' under the Local Government Pension Scheme
I look forward to your reply and would be grateful if you could respond to me by e-mail at: markirvine@compuserve.com

Kind regards


Mark Irvine 

  


Glasgow Pay Bombshell (14/02/17)



Readers in Glasgow still fighting for equal pay will be interested to learn that the council employee with the largest remuneration package across the whole of the UK in 2010-11 was Glasgow City Council's very own Ian Drummond.

Now Ian Drummond was Glasgow's executive director of special projects at the time and according to the report below in The Telegraph the city council official received an eye watering sum of £450,628 that year including £109,000 for “compensation for loss of office” and £199,000 in pension contributions. 


The Telegraph newspaper famously broke the story on MPs' expenses at Westminster and its story in April 2012 certainly appears to have touched a raw nerve with GCC's spokesman who said:

“With local government facing unprecedented cuts, we simply cannot sustain the number of staff we once had.

“If the Taxpayers' Alliance was genuinely interested in public finances, it would realise that these are not simply normal salary costs - they include a redundancy deal that will save the public purse £45 million every single year.”


Now this is true, of course, because getting rid of highly paid senior officials did indeed save the council lots of money, but these individuals got what they were entitled to - they were not bullied or intimidated into accepting much less than they were due under redundancy and/or pension scheme regulations.

Yet compare how the city council's senior officials fared with the treatment meted out to equal pay claimants in the run-up to Christmas 2005.

On that occasion settlement payments were capped at just £9,000 (much less than they were really worth) and thousands of Glasgow's lowest paid workers were frightened into believing that they would 'lose everything', if they didn't accept the measly offer on the table. 

Ian Drummond played a big role in Christmas 2005 'buy-out' exercise if I recall correctly, as the City's Council's head of legal at that time, known affectionately by his nickname - 'The Prince of Darkness'.

Speaking personally, I always regarded Ian Drummond was someone you could do business with and this proved to be so in the negotiations with A4ES which followed, resulting in much higher and fairer settlements for A4ES clients in Glasgow.   

But the big question for Glasgow City Council in 2017 is: 

"How come senior officials are treated so well when thousands of the council's lowest paid workers are still fighting for equal pay?" 

  


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/council-spending/9223901/Record-number-of-council-staff-paid-over-100000-a-year.html

Record number of council staff paid over £100,000 a year

A record number of council officials are paid over £100,000 a year, new figures show.


Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: 'It proves there is significant scope to save taxpayers’ money by tackling the culture of dodgy pay deals and boomerang bosses that was the norm under Labour' Photo: PA



By Christopher Hope - The Telegraph (25 April 2012)

The analysis from the TaxPayers’ Alliance showed the number of council workers receiving more than the Prime Minister last year jumped by 10 per cent.

The alliance found that more than 3,000 senior council executives pocketed pay and perks packages in excess of £100,000 in its annual town hall rich list.

In all 3,097 town hall employees were awarded deals worth six figure sums in 2010-11, a hike of 13 per cent on the previous year. The figure is a record for the six years that the list has been compiled.

The alliance also found that 880 received in total more than the Prime Minister’s £142,500 salary, up 13 per cent from 777 in the year before. It also found 658 staff took home between £150,000 and £249,999, while 52 broke the £250,000 mark.

The alliance said some of the packages included redundancy payments but insisted that did not “wholly account” for the increase in high payouts.

The council employee with the largest remuneration package in the UK was Ian Drummond, executive director of special projects who received £450,628, including £109,000 for “compensation for loss of office” during the year and £199,000 in pension contributions.

Top of the Rich List when redundancy packages were excluded was Geoff Alltimes, then chief executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Council on £281,666.

Mr Alltimes no longer works for the council, which now shares the position of chief executive with another London council.

According to the study, the local authority with the most employees receiving more than £100,000 in 2010-11 was Barnet at 47 - something the council immediately claimed was untrue.

The report found Glasgow City Council had 25 members of staff with packages over £100,000, Cardiff City Council recorded 19 while Belfast City Council had just one.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TPA, said: “Taxpayers will be astonished that so many council employees are still getting such a generous deal while everyone else in the public sector is facing a pay freeze.

“The Town Hall Rich List shows that while councils insist cuts can only mean pressure on frontline services, some clearly have cash in the bank when it comes to paying their own senior staff.”

Top of the Rich List when redundancy packages were excluded was Geoff Alltimes, then chief executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Council on £281,666.

Mr Alltimes no longer works for the council, which now shares the position of chief executive with another London council.

A Barnet Council spokesman said: “The number is wrong. The Taxpayers' Alliance is cross referencing two lists that don't contain the same information. The council had 25 staff, including interim staff, on total remuneration over £100,000.

“A further 16 appear on the list because of redundancy payments and another six are teaching staff. This number of teaching staff also includes redundancies.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said Mr Drummond had since left the council. A spokesman: “With local government facing unprecedented cuts, we simply cannot sustain the number of staff we once had.

“If the Taxpayers' Alliance was genuinely interested in public finances, it would realise that these are not simply normal salary costs - they include a redundancy deal that will save the public purse £45 million every single year.”

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesman said its pursuit of value for money was “relentless” and sharing a chief executive with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was saving taxpayers £200,000 a year.

Government sources said most of the pay deals were agreed before the Coalition came into power, and ministers were trying to bear down on town hall pay.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “It proves there is significant scope to save taxpayers’ money by tackling the culture of dodgy pay deals and boomerang bosses that was the norm under Labour.”

The alliance said it based its report on local authorities' 2010-11 annual statement of accounts and where salary bands were provided it used the midpoint. 


Table note: 2010-11 remuneration is not limited to salary and also includes fees, allowances, expenses, compensation, employer pension contributions, election duties, benefits in kind, redundancy payments and other payments.


Calling Glasgow!

Image result for calling + images

I've got all the pay slips I require at the moment from employees in Glasgow City Council doing 'claimant' jobs such as Home Carers - and thanks to everyone who got in touch with offers of help.

I could do with a few more pay documents from the council's male workers in 'comparator' and former bonus earning jobs including:
  • Gravediggers
  • Street Sweepers 
  • Refuse Collectors
  • Refuse Drivers
  • Gardener/Drivers
  • Road Worker/Drivers
  • Roadworkers - Grades 1, 2, and 3 
  • Waste Disposal Operatives
As regular readers know, the fight for equal pay has always been about increasing the pay of male workers rather than dragging down the pay of their male colleagues.

So the men and the women are in this fight together - not least because many of the men will have family members, neighbours and friends employed in the female dominated jobs categories.

Male workers in North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire came forward in those councils and the information they provided provide invaluable in securing a fair settlement of the women workers' equal pay claims.

If anyone can help, then drop me a note to: markirvine@compuserve.com - in confidence of course.

The period I'm particularly interested in is from 2007 onwards so male workers who have retired in recent years will be able to help as well.

 



Calling Glasgow! (08/03/17)

Image result for calling + images

As happens from time to time, I am looking for a bit of assistance from the thousands of equal pay claimants across Glasgow.

I am looking for a Home Carer who has kept their pay slips from Glasgow City Council for the past 10 years - covering the period immediately before and after the introduction of new pay arrangements and the council's WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review) in 2007.

Now this is really important and I'm confident that someone out of all the many A4ES clients in Glasgow will be able to help.

So if anyone has this information to hand, please drop me a note (in confidence of course) to: markirvine@compuserve.com  


Man Who Fell To Earth



Image result for man who fell to earth

Two brothers (Edgar and Moreno) fall almost five hundred feet from the top of a New York skyscraper; incredibly one survives.

The BBC tells the remarkable tale, but I have to say that I don't believe a 'higher hand' was at work because why would this mysterious force favour one of the siblings over the other. 

  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-39114931

The window cleaner who fell from a skyscraper and lived

By Harry Low - BBC News

BBC Magazine


Only half of the people who fall three storeys survive. From 10 storeys almost no-one does. This is the tale of a window cleaner who survived a 47-floor fall from the roof of a New York skyscraper.

"I loved to see the windows really clean," Alcides Moreno says.

"I liked the water and the soap, how you press the squeegee.

"We would start at the top and clean all the way to the bottom, I loved it."

Moreno and his younger brother Edgar set out to clean the windows of the 47-floor luxury Solow Tower building in Manhattan's Upper East side on the morning of 7 December 2007.

They took the lift up to the top and walked out on to the roof, the temperature hovering around freezing.

Image copyright - GOOGLE

But moments later, disaster struck. When they climbed on to the 16ft-wide (4.9m) washing platform the cables holding it in place "slipped from their attachment point", according to the United States Department of Labor accident report.

The survival rate even from a four-storey fall is not very good, a higher hand was in control hereDr Glenn Asaeda, New York City Fire Department

"On the left side the cable came off first. That was my brother's part. My brother fell off, all the way down," Alcides Moreno says.

Edgar plummeted 472ft (144m), landing in a narrow alley. By the time he reached the ground it's estimated he would have been travelling at more than 120mph. Alcides Moreno's side of the scaffold broke loose soon after, and he too started accelerating towards the ground.

At street level, firefighters and paramedics found a harrowing scene. Edgar Moreno had landed on a wooden fence, his body was severed and he couldn't be helped.

Alcides Moreno was found crouching among a pile of twisted metal, clutching the scaffold controls. Still breathing, he is said to have tried, unsuccessfully, to stand up.

Firefighters recall how they began to move him in small increments "like a fragile egg", knowing that one wrong move could have killed him.

The men's safety harnesses and lifelines, together with some soap and a bucket of hot water - the steam still rising from it - were discovered on the roof next to the scaffold rig. 

Image copyright - NYC FIRE DEPARTMENT - Image captionAlcides Moreno (centre) met the New York Fire Department members who rescued him in 2008

Alcides Moreno was rushed to a nearby hospital and induced into a coma. He had sustained injuries to his brain, spinal column, chest and abdomen, and had fractures to his ribs, right arm and both legs. He underwent numerous operations, including having a catheter inserted in his brain to reduce swelling. He received 24 pints of blood.

"If you're looking for a medical miracle, this certainly qualifies," Dr Herbert Pardes, the then president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital told a press conference at the time.

"The survival rate even from a four-storey fall is not very good," Dr Glenn Asaeda from the New York City Fire Department said. "A higher hand was in control here."
Find out more

Alcides Moreno spoke to the BBC World Service programme Outlook
Listen again to the interview

Alcides Moreno woke up nearly three weeks later, on Christmas Day 2007, with his wife, Rosario, at his bedside.

"My mind was so blurry," he says.

He has no recollection of the fall itself. Did he know what had happened to his brother?

"I understood that he must be dead because I looked around and saw only me and my wife," he says.

Image caption - Alcides Moreno, his wife, Rosario, and one of their sons

An investigation into the accident found that the scaffolding hadn't been properly maintained and that new motorised cables, which attached the window washing platform to the building, had not been properly anchored to the roof.

Accident investigators also concluded that although Alcides Moreno had stepped on to the scaffold without wearing a safety harness, this did not prove that he had refused to use it. Since he had also not yet retrieved his window washing equipment from the roof they said that he might still have intended to go back and put on the harness before starting work.

Speculation continues as to how he survived. By holding tight as he fell, did the scaffolding take most of the impact? Did the scaffolding somehow surf the air? Did Alcides Moreno bounce off the side of the building on the way down, slowing his fall?

The two brothers, originally from Ecuador, had arrived in the US in the 1990s looking for work.
Image caption - Edgar Moreno (left) and Alcides

"Losing him was a big deal for me," Alcides Moreno explains.

"Edgar lived with me in New Jersey, and we shared a lot of things. He worked with me and died working with me.

"I believe I felt melancholic for about three years. That's how long it took me to recover and accept his death. It was like losing a child, because he was younger than me."

Alcides Moreno received a substantial compensation payout and he and his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He says the warm weather there is good for his bones.

"I have all the scars on my body and because of the back injuries, I can't run, only walk," he says. "I'm not like I used to be. But thank God I can walk, that is amazing for me."

Now 46, Moreno says he would clean windows again if he could - he doesn't have a problem with heights. But he doesn't work for health reasons. He estimates that he is 80% of the person he used to be. 

Image caption - Alcides Moreno is not afraid of heights

"When I ask something, I don't finish the question," he says. "There are things I don't do well. It must be a consequence [of the accident]."

The experience on 7 December 2007 changed his life in other ways too.

"I used to think a lot about me and only me," Moreno says. "I would provide for the family and think that was good enough. Then I realised how important my wife and kids are."


Media captionListen: Alcides Moreno describes the moment disaster struck

Last year, Alcides Moreno became a father for the fourth time. He seems overjoyed when talking about his boy of eight months.

"I keep asking myself why I lived. I have a new baby - he must be the reason, to raise this kid and tell him my history."

Additional reporting by Richard Hooper and Ana Pais

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