Friday, 18 August 2017

Glasgow 'Gets' Equality



After a 12 year long fight Action 4 Equality Scotland has finally won its battle over equal pay with Glasgow City Council. 

The Court of Session (Scotland’s highest civil court) has decided today (18 August 2017) that Glasgow’s City Council’s pay arrangements provided less favourable treatment to thousands of low paid women’s jobs. 

The court’s decision opens the door to thousands of new claims from existing council staff and from former employees who left the City Council’s employment within the past 5 years.

A4ES represents over 6000 claimants in Glasgow, over 80% of the current numbers of cases registered with the Employment Tribunals, and this figure is bound to increase 
dramatically given today’s decision from the Court of Session.

Stefan Cross QC, of Action 4 Equality (Scotland), said: 

”This is really great news for thousands of low paid women workers across Glasgow who put their trust in A4ES to get the job done. 

“We have been saying for years that the City Council could not justify paying highly skilled, hard working staff like Home Carers so much less than gardeners, gravediggers and 
refuse workers.

“The A4ES legal team did a fantastic job in the Court of Session and our determination has been vindicated in the end. 

“There is now bound to be a huge influx of new cases against the City Council which faces a mammoth bill of £250 million after stubbornly refusing to face up to its equal pay 
obligations for the past 12 years.

Once again we urge Glasgow City Council to get round the table to resolve these issues once and for all."

Frances Stojilkovic, a Glasgow Home Care Coordinator and A4ES client said:

“Home Carers in Glasgow are all over the moon because we’ve finally got the recognition our jobs deserve, after being so badly undervalued and underpaid for all this time.

"It's just such a pity we've had to fight the City Council for so long to get justice via the courts, but without Action 4 Equality Scotland and Mark Irvine’s support we would never have won our case. 

“I think I might just head out tonight and have a wee celebration!”

Well, what can I say - the fight for equal pay has dominated my life over the past 12 years, but it sure feels good to be vindicated after all this time.

And the most important thing is that thousands of low paid workers in Glasgow stood up for their rights - and won. 

  



Many Hands = Light Work



I get emails from readers every day asking what they can do if anything to help in the fight for equal pay with Glasgow City Council.

Now the focus for the past few months has been on the Court of Session and its decision to uphold the claimants' appeal on 'Protected Pay' which means that women workers are (and were) entitled to receive the same treatment (or no less favourable treatment) as their male colleagues.

I'll have more to say on this in the days ahead, but as everyone gets back to normal after the summer break I think it is fair to say that we're not out of the woods yet.   

Because while there has been a change of political leadership within the City Council, there are still a number of key issues to resolve such as:
  • Glasgow's pay arrangements are not 'open, honest and transparent' - much of the detail about the treatment of traditional male, former bonus earning jobs remains hidden from public view and proper scrutiny
  • City Council officials are refusing FoI requests intended to shine a light on the EDC (Employment Development Commitment) which gave a guarantee to former bonus earners that their higher pay would be maintained beyond the three year protection period.
  • City Council officials appear to be interpreting 'protection' for the women workers in a very different way to the protection arrangements enjoyed by male jobs, even though the City Council has no justification for the huge differences in pay which existed before the WPBR was introduced in 2007. 
  • City Council officials appear to be driven by financial considerations, as they were back in 2005, when thousands of low paid women workers were effectively 'duped' into accepting low offers of settlement worth only a fraction of the true value of their claims.
  • City Council officials find it impossible to explain how the same financial or budgetary constraints never managed to apply to all the traditional male jobs over these past 13 years. 
So there is still work to be done and if the Glasgow campaign has to be re-started in earnest, there will be plenty of opportunities for the thousands of equal pay claimants across the City to play their part.  

  




Glasgow and Equal Pay (16/08/17)



Lots of readers from Glasgow have been in touch to ask why it's taking so long to reach a settlement of people's equal pay claims especially as the City Council has not appealed the recent decision of the Court of Session.

As regular readers will recall, the Court of Session decision related to the 'protection period' following the introduction of the City Council's new WPBR pay arrangements in 2006/07 and the court decided that the women claimants were entitled to receive the same treatment (or no less favourable treatment) as their male comparators.

So far so good.


But the City Council is now trying to limit the range of male jobs which women claimants can use to compare their earnings and differences in pay - by arguing that 'male comparators' should be restricted to the new pay arrangements which applied under the WPBR scheme.


Now if you ask me, this proposal is completely bonkers and blatantly unfair.


Because it would prevent the women claimants from comparing their treatment to that of various high earning, former bonus paying jobs like Gravediggers, Gardeners and Refuse Workers which under the old (pre-WPBR) pay arrangements were on lower grades than their female colleagues.


In other words the Council seems to be getting up to its old tricks again and if its argument were to prevail, this would significantly reduce the value of people's outstanding equal pay claims. 


As far as A4ES is concerned the underlying problem is that Glasgow's pay arrangements are the exact opposite of 'open, honest and transparent' - and this needs to change. 

The comparison that needs to be made is between the pay arrangements that existed before the WPBR was introduced in 2006/07 because the only way that women can receive the same treatment as the men is for their pay to be 'equalised', or brought into line with the pay of the men, before pay protection arrangements are considered.


If this had happened back in 2006/07, as it should, then no less favourable treatment for the women's jobs would have ensured that a Home Carer could not be paid less than a Gravedigger, Gardener or a Refuse Worker in 2017.


Glasgow may now be heading down the same path as neighbouring councils in North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire, despite the fact that the legal strategy followed by those two councils ended in abject defeat.

Time will tell because the City Council will be forced to make its position clear in the weeks  ahead.


So watch this space - and keep spreading the word to as many people as possible via Twitter and Facebook.


  



Glasgow - Musical Chairs (13/08/17)Image result for Musical chairs


What does the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council have to do with the old party game of 'Musical Chairs?

Find out on the blog site this coming week when all shall be revealed - in the meantime here's your starter for 10, as they say on University Challenge.

   

Glasgow's Pay Arrangements (11/0817)


I submitted an FoI request to Glasgow City Council earlier this year asking for details on the comparative rates of pay for various traditional male jobs.

One of the jobs I asked about was that of Garage Engineer and back in 2007 this enjoyed a similar basic rate pay to that of a Home Carer, for example, of £6.92 - although the male job was also receiving a big bonus which the Council has still not disclosed.

I specifically asked the Council to provide pay information for 2007 and again in 2017 to see how things had changed over that 10 year period and this is what GCC had to say. 

Garage Engineer (Pre-WPBR Grade - EO1, Post WPBR Grade - 5)

2007
Bonus Pay Bonus payments for employees in this post was variable from week to week.

Annual Salary £269.90 basic per week

Hourly Rate of Pay £6.92


2017

Bonus Pay No Bonus payments received.

Annual Salary Core Pay is £25,098.63


Hourly Rate of Pay £13.75

So over the course the past 10 years and as a result of the WPBR pay scheme the basic pay of this male dominated job has risen to £25,000 which is clearly much higher than the basic pay of a Home Carer, for example, or a similarly graded job done by women workers.


As readers can see for themselves, the hourly rate of pay for this male job has also increased dramatically, almost doubling from £6.92 to £13.75


Now if anyone can show me a comparative female job that has fared nearly so well under Glasgow's controversial WPBR scheme, I promise to jump into the River Clyde on the morning of New Year's Day 2018. 


The big question for the City Council and for future settlement negotiations is: "How come this traditional male job (and many others like it) did so well out of the new WPBR pay arrangements - when their women colleagues fared so poorly?" 

 




Barcelona!



Another song to celebrate all that's great about Barcelona and the city's hospitable, friendly citizens - this time from Rufus Wainwright.


   

Viva Barcelona



Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world and the cowardly Islamist fanatics who mowed down innocent people on Las Ramblas will never win.


   

Breaking News!

Image result for breaking news + images

The second part of the Court of Session decision on the Glasgow equal pay cases will be released at 12 noon today - Friday 18 August 2017.

The background to the case is explained in the posts below from the blog site archive and there is obviously a lot at stake, especially as the City Council has already lost the first part regarding pay protection.

So fingers crossed everyone - and keep your eyes peeled for further news on the blog site at midday!

    


Glasgow and Equal Pay (27/07/17)


As we approach the end of July and with the holiday season drawing to a close, lots of readers are asking me what is going behind the scenes with Glasgow City Council regarding a settlement of all the outstanding equal pay claims.

Now I explained the formal position back at the beginning of June right after the big appeal hearing in Court of Session in Edinburgh which found in favour of the claimants - see post below dated 01/06/17.

Shortly afterwards the new SNP led administration in Glasgow stated publicly that the City Council would not be appealing the Court of Session judgement, the SNP Group having  pledged during the election campaign to resolve the long standing issue of equal pay.

Previous Labour councils had, of course, dragged things out for many years - since 2007 in fact.

In any event, the time limit for registering an appeal to the UK Supreme Court has now passed and so the 'new' City Council has to deliver on the manifesto on which the SNP (the largest group) fought the May 2017 local elections in Glasgow. 

Thankfully, the process involved in reading a settlement is not 'rocket science' - instead it's just a matter of the City Council being open and honest about the pay arrangements that were put in place following the introduction of the WPBR back in 2006/07.

We know from the recent Court of Session hearing in Edinburgh that Glasgow's pay protection arrangements extended well beyond 2009, due to the so-called Employee Development Commitment (EDC) which guaranteed that the earnings of traditional male jobs (e.g Gravediggers, Gardeners and so on) would be maintained into the future.

So as far as reaching a settlement is concerned all the City Council has to do is to 'open the books' and explain the detail of these pay arrangements to Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) and the other claimant organisations.

A4ES has asked the City Council to do so without delay so that serious settlement negotiations can get underway and set a realistic timetable for completion.

If this does not happen, another option is to go back to the Employment Tribunals to seek a remedies hearings and for the tribunal to issue orders compelling Glasgow City Council to release the required pay information.

But given the previous stance of the SNP which called for Glasgow to be open and transparent, I  suspect the new administration will prefer to get down to brass tacks in pursuit of a fair settlement of all the outstanding claim.

   

Glasgow - The Next Steps (01/06/17)


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 when you're in a hole 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 - Court of Session (30/05/17)


Glasgow City Council has lost its equal pay appeal which was heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh from 25th to 27th April 2017.

Scotland's highest civil court has agreed that Glasgow's women workers were entitled to the same pay protection as their male colleagues which means the Council has lost yet another round in this long-running battle over equal pay on behalf of its lowest paid employees.

The Court of Session has still to publish its decision on the second part of the appeal which challenges Glasgow's local job evaluation (JE) scheme and the City Council's WPBR pay arrangements.

Nonetheless, the 'pay protection' decision on its own represents a considerable victory for thousands of low paid, predominantly female claimants including: home carers, cooks cleaners, catering workers, clerical staff and classroom assistants.

Welcoming the decision Stefan Cross QC said:

"The A4ES legal team did a great job in the Court of Session and we are delighted that the three judges upheld the earlier decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal which ruled in favour of the claimants.

"We look forward to the Court's decision in the second part of the appeal. If this is upheld as well, there is bound to be a huge influx of new cases against the City Council which has stubbornly refused to face up to its equal pay obligations for the past ten years."

More news to follow soon, so watch this space.

  

Glasgow - Court of Session (29/05/17)


The big news this bank holiday weekend is that the Court of Session will release the first part of its decision on the Glasgow equal pay cases tomorrow - Tuesday 30 May 2017.

As regular readers know, the appeal is in two parts and tomorrow's decision will focus on the 'pay protection' part of the claim; the A4ES-led challenge to Glasgow's job evaluation (JE) scheme and WPBR pay arrangements will follow in due course.

Now the decision is being released sooner than expected, certainly a lot earlier than at least one of the trade unions was predicting just days ago and as reported on the blog site previously the GMB union is not part of the appeal over the City Council's JE scheme and WPBR pay arrangements.

The implications of the Court's decision are explained in the two posts posts below and tomorrow promises to be a big day one way or the other.

So fingers crossed - I'll share the news on the blog as soon as I've had time to read and understand what the Court of Session has to say. 

  



Glasgow - Court of Session (25/05/17)


As regular readers know, two important appeals involving Glasgow City Council were heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh recently, ending on 4 May 2017 - the same day as the local elections.

The written decision of the court may be some time off, but here is my personal impression  of how things went and the big issues at stake.

Protection Period Claims

In the first part of the appeal the court heard about Glasgow’s pay protection arrangements and the City Council's commitment to maintain the earnings of former bonus earners at their previous levels via its Employee Development Commitment  (EDC) - without first of all bringing the pay of the women into line with the higher pay of the men.

The upshot being that when the WPBR was introduced in 2006/07 women workers were in a much less favourable financial position because their pay was thousands of pounds a year behind their bonus earning male comparators.

So before WPBR came into play a Home Carer on £12,000 (basic pay) and Grade MW5 was being paid much less than a Gravedigger on the lower grade of MW3 because bonus pay took his earnings to @£22,000 a year.

After the WPBR a Home Carer and Gravedigger ended up on the same PESB 3 Grade, but a Gravedigger’s earnings remained at @£22,000 while the Home Carer’s increased to only @£15,000.

So, the effect of WPBR was to preserve the higher, bonus-related pay of male comparator jobs - rather than to substantially improve the lot of the women’s jobs which had been undervalued and underpaid for many years.

The trade unions seemed to share this objective and a Council minute of December 2006 confirms that the unions threatened strike action in support of maintaining the earnings of the male dominated ‘red circled’ jobs.

Yet strike action was never threatened over the demand for 'equal pay for work of equal value' which would have brought the pay of Glasgow's women workers (the majority of the workforce) into line with the higher earnings of their male comparators.

If the 'protection part' of the Court of Session case is upheld, this will extend the period of people's second wave equal pay claims until at least 2009, i.e. until the pay preservation arrangements for the male comparator jobs came to an end.


Glasgow's Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) 

The judges spent a lot of time trying to get their heads round the rationale behind the WPBR which is Glasgow’s name for its own ‘in-house’ job evaluation (JE) scheme and associated pay arrangements.

Glasgow did not use the Gauge JE scheme which had been developed alongside the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement and which was recommend for use across Scotland by CoSLA (the employers umbrella body) and the national trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite).

For some reason, Glasgow City Council decided to call in an external consultant to work up its own ‘in-house’ scheme based on one previously used in Greater London. Even more bizarrely, the trade unions in Glasgow went along with the council’s plans without putting up any resistance.

If you ask me, the local trade unions lacked the expertise and knowledge required to deal with a completely new JE scheme and let their low paid members down because local union reps were completely out of their depth.


Core Pay and Job Evaluation

The judges had difficulty in grasping the different elements of Glasgow’s WPBR which were explained as Core Pay (Basic Pay), a separate payment for Working Context and Demands (WCD) and another payment for Non-Standard Working Pattern (NSWP) - the latter replacing shift payments or unsocial hours pay.

Only the Core Pay element related directly to objective job evaluation criteria which assessed different jobs on the basis of their skills and responsibilities, using a combination of factors and weightings, before awarding a new Grade and a place on the pay ladder.

WCD and NSWP relied upon new local ‘rules’ determined by the City Council (with input from the trade unions), but many of these were drawn in such a way as to deliver a desired outcome. For example, the arbitrary rule that says only employees working 37 hours can receive 7 (working hours) points under the NSWP element of the scheme - which was worth £800  a year in 2006 (see posts below).

The effect of WCD and NSWP allowed the City Council to maintain the higher pay of former bonus earning groups beyond the original 3 year protection period, even though these two elements of pay were not related to the grade of the job. 

In other words, having gone to all the trouble of introducing a objective JE scheme with evaluation criteria based on the skills and responsibilities of people's jobs, the City Council created another set of 'rules' which disproportionately benefited the former bonus earning male groups.

If the challenge to the Glasgow JE scheme succeeds, the WPBR will fall away and the result is that women doing work of 'equal value' to the men will be entitled to the same pay as their male comparators - both up until now (from 2006/07) and going forward from 2017. 

A successful challenge to the WPBR will also open the door to a whole raft of new claims in addition to those from existing A4ES clients. 
NB The GMB union did not support the A4ES led challenge to Glasgow's WPBR at the recent appeal hearing in the Court of Session. The GMB has restricted its claims to the protection period only. 


Court of Session Decision

The next steps in the fight for equal pay in Glasgow will hinge on the decision of the Court of Session. If the written judgment favours the claimants, Glasgow City Council will find itself in a similar position to North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire councils.

So fingers crossed and watch this space.  


  



Glasgow's Pay Arrangements (06/04/17)



A Home Carer from Glasgow has been in touch to say that she (and many others) work a 50 hour week and a 20 hour week the week week, so why don't they qualify for a NSWP payment in Week 1 at least?

Now that's a good question because fairness and common sense would suggest that such a shift working arrangement would qualify for an NSWP payment at Level B for at least half the year, perhaps more if overtime hours were also taken into account.

But I'm pretty sure that Glasgow City Council interprets these 'cockamamy rules' in a way that is to the disadvantage of Home Carers by treating the 2 weeks as a 35-hour average so that the staff concerned receive no payment. 

My own view is that the NSWP working hours payment ought to be paid on a 'pro rata' basis like other pay related benefits such as sick, holiday pay and sick pay - that way all Home Carers on a 35 hour working week would receive 35/37ths (or 95%) of a Level B NSWP payment.


The trade unions should be on to this as well if you ask me, because you don't have to work 37 hours before becoming eligible to join a union or to take part in a union strike ballot.


The real problem is that Glasgow City Council has just invented these 'cockamamy rules' which are impossible to justify as they go against the spirit and letter of the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement which is based on equal treatment for part-time workers.

  

Cockamamy Council 'Rules' (05/04/17) 


As regular readers know, Action 4 Equality Scotland is challenging various aspects of Glasgow's WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review) which the City Council introduced back in 2006/07.

One of the most controversial aspects of the WPBR scheme is over additional payments that are made under the heading of NSWP (Non Standard Working Pattern) payments.


I wrote previously on the blog site about how the Glasgow's predominantly female jobs seem to fare badly under the WPBR compared to their male colleagues, and this is also true when it comes to NSWP payments. 


Because one of the NSWP 'rules' is a requirement for employees to work 37 hours before they qualify for 7 'working hours' NSWP points.


Now points mean prizes under the WPBR and 7 NSWP points means that a 37 hour a week employee qualifies for Level B Payment which was worth £800 a year in 2006 - almost £10,000 over 12 years - and a whole lot more than people have been receiving in terms of annual pay increases, for example.


So who made up this barmy 'rule' and on what kind of twisted logic is this NSWP rule based?


Because it's completely crazy if you ask me - people don't have to work 37 hours to qualify for holiday pay, sick pay, or maternity pay - for example.


And can it really be a coincidence that the vast majority of Glasgow City Council employees who work less than 37 hours a week are women? 


Curiously all of Glasgow's hardworking Home Carers were placed on 35 hour a week contracts some years ago, so they miss out on a Level B Payment even though they work 95% of a 37 hour working week.


The 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement was supposed to ensure equal treatment for part-time workers, but that seems not to have happened in Glasgow where mysterious rules have been invented (by whom?) to exclude the council's lowest paid workers.


As far as I know the trade unions in Glasgow haven't called or even threatened a single strike to defend the rights of thousands of part-time workers affected by this cockamamy 'rule' which is a complete disgrace, if you ask me.


Because if points are to be awarded for hours worked, they should be pro-rated just like all other payments and benefits - not deliberately designed in such a way that treats women workers much less favourably than their male colleagues. 


No wonder the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council can't defend his party's position over equal pay, but readers are invited to drop Frank McAveety a note by email or Twitter and let him know what you think.


Email - frank.mcaveety@glasgow.gov.uk

Twitter - @FMcAveety


  

Court of Session (30/01/17) 


The Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, has set the following dates to deal with the outstanding equal pay claims against Glasgow City Council.  
  • 25th to 27th April 2017 - a three day hearing on the pay protection and assimilation period
  • 2nd to 5th May 2017 - four days focusing on the City Council's job evaluation scheme, also known locally as the WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review)
Now the timing could not be better if you ask me with the elections to Glasgow City Council taking place on Thursday 4th May 2017.

My message to the Labour leaders of Glasgow City Council is to come clean and explain the pay arrangements that were put in place after the introduction of its local job evaluation scheme (WPBR) in 2006/07.

So if Frank McAveety and his colleagues don't have the political will to resolve then issue, then step aside and make way for those who do.