Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Money (That's What I Want)



Another great entry to my Glasgow Equal Pay music competition arrived by email from Susan yesterday - 'Money (That's What I Want)'.

Now the track was originally recorded by Barrett Strong back in 1959 but was also covered by other, better-known bands including The Beatles and Flying Lizards.

I like the 'straight to the point' nature of Susan's entry because this all comes down to money and as I said in a previous post Glasgow's chief legal officer (Ian Drummond) got all he was entitled to when Ian left the City Council's employment in 2010/11 with a remuneration package worth £450,628.

So what's sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander, if you ask me, and after all this time Council's lowest paid staff deserve to be treated with equal dignity and respect. 


 


Stand and Deliver (28/02/17)



I've had a great response already today to my competition aimed at finding an equal pay musical tribute to Labour-run Glasgow City Council.

First out of the traps was Lesley with a memorable golden oldie from Adam and the Ants - 'Stand and Deliver'.

Now the City Council are the 'highway robbers' if you ask me, but I get the point that the senior officials and elected councils must now be held to account for the way they've behaved over the years.

And just to clear up one enquiry, first prize in the competition will definitely not be a night out with Frank McAveety listening to garage music (although that could be the booby prize).

In any event, more entries will follow tomorrow - because no one ever said that we can't have a bit of fun while getting on with the serious business of fighting for equal pay.

In fact, I think it will help inspire people to get involved and send the City Council bigwigs a message that we're coming after them, big time.

  


Glasgow and Equal Pay (28/02/17)


The leader of Glasgow City Council, Frank McAveety, is a big music buff and has a fantastic collection of vinyl records, enough to fill a domestic garage.

So I am starting my own music competition to find a suitable number that can speak to the City Council's appalling behaviour over equal pay for the past 12 years.

I did something similar in South Lanarkshire Council a little while back although that focused more on the craven behaviour of the trade unions who actively discouraged local union members from pursuing equal pay claims against the Labour-run council.


All suggestions for the Glasgow competition should be emailed to me (in confidence) and I'll be awarding a small prize to the winner in due course.


Anyone can enter the contest, especially the City Council employees who are still fighting for equal pay, but out of respect for the foot-soldiers, I'm afraid, members of the senior management team are ineligible to take part.  


So to give readers some inspiration and encouragement here's my entry to the South Lanarkshire competition - Gerry Rafferty and ''Can I have My Money Back?'. 


  


Gerry Rafferty Sings (14/08/15)


I'd like to nominate the following song as the new anthem for the Unison branch in South Lanarkshire Council - "Can I Have My Money Back?", by Gerry Rafferty.

If readers have any other suggestions, I'll happily share them on the blog site.

Can I Have My Money Back? (14/08/15) 

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?'.

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.

Weasel Words from Glasgow (08/02/17)



A kind reader has shared a response she received from Glasgow City Council after writing to its Labour leader, Councillor Frank McAveety.

Now Frank's been around the track once or twice so he must surely be embarrassed by the 'weasel words' which have been written on his behalf.

For a start, Glasgow City Council is now the only council in Scotland not to have dealt with the so-called protection and pay assimilation period which followed the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review in 2007. 

Neighbouring councils in North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire both recently resolved this issue, so there is no 'best use of public funds' or 'wider community interest' at stake here. 

Which means that Glasgow is on the hook just like other councils, except Glasgow is 10 years late after refusing to deal with the issue at the time, i.e. back in 2007.

So there is no dispute about whether or not a further 2nd Wave payment is required, the only issues are how much and over which time period?

A4ES says the pay of the women's jobs should have been levelled up to the same as the men before the WPBR came into force in 2007 - in which case the women are entitled to the same level of pay protection as the men.

Not just that, of course, since the WPBR has not been given a clean bill of health and Glasgow's local job evaluation scheme (the City Council refused to use the nationally approved scheme) forms part of the appeal to the Court of Session.

The other glaring point Frank fails to mention is that thousands of low paid workers in Glasgow were made very poor offers of settlement in the run-up to Christmas 2005.

Everyone caught up in that exercise (not the A4ES claimants) feel cheated and angry at the way they were treated - here's an extract from a recent post from the blog site (from 1 Feb) which explains the background and why people are so determined that they 'won't be fooled again'.

Council 'buy-outs' - Christmas 2005
  • Lots of people are understandably still very angry at being pressurised into accepting very poor offers of settlement in the run-up to Christmas 2005. In plain language people felt they were bullied and intimidated into accepting these offers which were capped at a maximum of only £9,000 - because they were frightened into believing that they would probably lose everything, if they continued with their claims to the Employment Tribunals.
The role of the trade unions
  • The trade unions in Glasgow had agreed the £9,000 cap with the City Council and were left looking foolish when far higher settlements were achieved by Action 4 Equality Scotland. As a result, the trade unions in Glasgow (and elsewhere) lost credibility with their own members after siding with management and the employers over equal pay, which is why the vast majority of claimants in Glasgow (around 6,000) are now with A4ES.
As I said on the blog site recently, this may not have been down to Frank as he was an MSP in the Scottish Parliament in 2005, but the reality is that the buck stops with him now as Leader of the Council in 2017.

The Council's response also says that both sides are 'talking' which is technically correct although Glasgow is dragging its feet quite shamelessly. 

For example, at the last meeting with A4ES on 19 January 2017 the Council claimed they were unable to provide pay information because of ongoing industrial action in their IT section.

Embarrassingly, the industrial action ended that same day (19 Jan) which the Council clearly knew at the time, but still used this as a ridiculous excuse for not providing information which they had been promising to release for months.   

So if you ask me, it seems as if we are dealing with some cynical people who use weasel words when what's needed is some straight talking and a commitment to get the job done.

  


Cllr McAveety thanks you for your recent enquiry and has asked me to respond on his behalf.

A number of colleagues have written in about equal pay and have been asking when the Council will settle. In fact the Council settled equal pay in 2006. Unlike a good many other Councils all of these cases are now settled and the Council has had a pay and grading system in place that ensures equal treatment. This system has been tested twice in Court and has been approved each time.

The Council did not have a robust system of equal pay in place before 2006. It settled, quite rightly, those claims and put in place a robust system that made sure that this could not happen again. What is currently at issue is whether the Council should have put in place 3 years pay protection in 2006 for those whose income was due to fall. One Court supported this while another did not.    

Both sides have appealed but they are also talking to each other. This is a complex issue and because public funds are at stake the Council does need to act in the best interest of the entire community. I hope, however, that before too long one of the first Councils to resolve the source issue will be able to resolve this final point.

I hope that this answers your enquiry.

Yours sincerely,

Robert   



Robert Anderson
Head of Human Resources
Corporate Services
Glasgow City Council
Room G.20
40 John Street

'Trump's a Liar', Believe Me



John Stewart calls out Donald Trump for the pathological liar he so clearly is - from exaggerating the attendance at his inauguration in Washington DC, to the decidedly 'non-historic' extent of his electoral college victory - to his fake claim about the murder rate in America being at a 47 year high. 

The man is a buffoon, believe me.


  

Trump Supporters



Here's a remarkable photo of Trump supporters waving flags with the President's name decked out in the colours of the Russian flag.

The picture was taken at a conservative political action conference in Washington DC which Donald Trump addressed on Friday. 

  


Trump Supporters (22/02/17)



The Crusader is the national newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in America and the  organised voice of white supremacy has no hesitation in echoing Donald Trump's favourite slogan: 'Make America Great Again'.

Now it's not not always possible to pick and choose who your supporters are although the difference with Trump is that he never calls out the ugly racism which underpins the KKK - in fact he has deliberately fanned the flames with his support for the 'birther' campaign against President Obama.


  


Trump's America (30/12/16)



Lots of Donald Trump's supporters are successful, intelligent and often people, but a significant number are lumpen 'hillbillies' like this chap who believes that Barack Obama played a big part in the 9/11 terror attacks on America in 2001.  

Now that was fully seven years before Barack Obama won his first presidential election in 2008, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story, as the saying goes.

But that's the state of American politics these days where ugly lies and fake 'news' stories are all 'grist to the mill' of Trump's right wing supporters who have taken over the Republican Party.

 


Ape in Heels (14/12/116)

Image result for bad role model + images

Donald Trump is seldom away from Twitter as everyone knows (to coin a favourite phrase), but I've yet to hear him call out one of his own supporters who described Michelle Obama, as an 'ape in heels'.

Now there is no doubt that these words from a public official amount to ugly, unacceptable and racist language - from one of his own "Make America Great Again' supporters.

So you would think that the President-elect would have no hesitation in condemning such vile behaviour in the strongest possible terms.

But while Donald rails against Saturday Night Live (a satirical programme) for poking fun at his (often bizarre) behaviour, he's as quite as a church mouse when it comes to denouncing this racial abuse of America's First Lady.   

  

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/west-virginia-michelle-obama-ape-in-heels-pamela-taylor-return-to-work-a7470261.html

West Virginia official who called Michelle Obama ‘ape in heels’ returns to work

Pamela Ramsey Taylor says 'it will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House'



By Shehab Khan - The Independent
Michelle Obama - AP

The director of a non-profit organisation in West Virginia will return to work after being suspended for referring to Michelle Obama as an “ape”.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, a director at Clay County Development Corporation, West Virginia, posted the comment on Facebook and was suspended from her role at the Development Corporation.

She is now set to return to her job later this month, according to a letter seen by Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Ms Taylor initially took to Facebook in support of Donald Trump’s victory in the US election. 


Trump Supporters (16/11/16)


The Washington Post reports on the ugly behaviour of two public officials in West Virginian who mocked Michelle Obama, America's First Lady, as "a Ape in heels." 

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, a director of Clay County development corporation posted the following comment on Facebook after Donald Trump's election as president, ushering in Michelle Obama's replacement as First Lady by Melania Trump:

"It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House", before adding:

"I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels."

The local mayor Beverly Whaling is then reported as replying with the words:

"Just made my day Pam." 

"What the fuck's wrong with these people?" is the question any reasonable person is bound to ask and, of course, Team Trump bears some responsibility given the hateful tone of the recent election campaign.  

Read the full story in via the link below to The Washington Post, but as usual having been caught red-handed the two individuals involved deny their behaviour was racist.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/11/14/ape-in-heels-w-va-officials-under-fire-after-comments-about-michelle-obama/?wpisrc=nl_most-draw8&wp

Image result for ape in heels + images

  


Dragged Through a Hedge (15/11/16)

Gerald Herbert/AP

In a sign of things to come, perhaps, Donald Trump announced the other day that his chief strategist as the new President of the United States (POTUS) will be a chap called Stephen Bannon - who looks a bit like Robert Redford, albeit after a very hard night out before being dragged through a hedge backwards. 

Apparently Stephen Bannon is more in tune with the Mr Hyde side of Donald Trump's character and, as head of the controversial right-wing Breitbart news website, Mr Bannon was responsible for headlines which featured:  

A story about President Obama and 'birtherism' - headed-up with a picture Harambe the gorilla which is often used as a racial slur against African Americans (http://www.politicususa.com/2016/09/16/trump-related-brietbart-news-gorilla-homepage-illustrate-trump-birther-story.html)

"Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement's Human Shield" - an ugly take on the attempted murder of a Democratic Senator from Arizona

"There's No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews" - unsolicited career advice from an ignorant misogynist

"Birth Control Makes Women Crazy and Unattractive" - says some lonely loser who's no 'oil painting' himself 

"The Solution to Online Harassment Is Simple: Women Should Just Log Off" - sad internet trolls wanting to have their cake and eat it

"Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew." - an everyday tale of anti-Semitism in America 

So we'll see what happens in the days ahead, but given his track record at Breitbart the chances are that Stephen Bannon will continue to use the same ugly tactics that propelled Donald Trump to victory during the presidential election campaign.