Brighton Greens in chaos after leader coup exposed


4:40 pm - May 24th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


      Share on Tumblr

The Brighton Green party is in chaos after Labour councillors exposed that some Greens had been working behind-the-scenes to overthrow group leader Jason Kitcat.

Brighton & Hove is the only council in the country run by a (minority) Green Party group of councillors.

Council leader Jason Kitcat has come under fire over a controversial plan to equalise pay that will see allowances cut for some workers working for the council.

The plans are being vociferously opposed by the GMB union. It also led to the extraordinary situation of Green MP Caroline Lucas saying she would join a picket against her party’s plans.

Many Green councillors had privately and publicly voiced their opposition too.

Attempts by a rebel Green faction to oust Kitcat, led by councillor Phelim McCafferty, were exposed after the Labour group posted a DM conversation on Twitter to their website yesterday.

The Labour group have decided not to cooperate, and hope that accusations of Green infighting will paralyse the Greens and help Labour.

Councillor Morgan released a statement saying:

The Green Party in Brighton and Hove is now irrevocably split.

To ask an opposition group to help oust their party leader and choose a new one is utterly desperate and absurd. The Greens cannot now reasonably expect to run the city council.

However, working with the Greens to oust Kitcat could have helped averted the plans to cut worker allowances. The Labour expose may now help strengthen Kitcat’s position.

UPDATE: Councillor Alexandra Phillips has sent Liberal Conspiracy this statement

I apologise unreservedly for approaching Warren Morgan, the leader of Brighton and Hove Labour, in the way that I did. It was a naive and damaging mistake.

I want to be clear that I was speaking for no-one but myself. I didn’t discuss contacting Warren Morgan with any of my council colleagues or any other members of the party in advance.

I am totally committed to the Green Party and am incredibly grateful to Greens in Brighton & Hove, and beyond, for their support. I try always to act in members’ interests, and I apologise especially to members who will rightly feel let down by this error of judgement.

She added: “I am truly sorry.”

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: News

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


1. Doug Rouxel

https://twitter.com/gmbcityclean/status/337638507667419136

Cityclean workers don’t seem to be happy at being sold out by B&H Labour.

2. Uncle Beelzebub

However, working with the Greens to oust Kitcat could have helped averted the plans to cut worker allowances.

Because of course it’s much more important that male employees retain bonuses that were granted unfairly as a way of getting around equal pay legislation brought in about 20 years ago, than male and female workers get equal treatment.

3. Jake Thompson

Any involvement by a Labour Group in a vote to determine the leadership of another political party would have been a clear and serious breach of the Labour Party constitution.

Conservative councillors were also approached about removing Cllr Kitcat. The Greens failed to topple Kitcat at their AGM last month and seem now prepared to get anyone to do their dirty work for them.

Green councillor and part of Caroline Lucas’s 2010 team, Matt Follett announced his resignation today from what is considered a safe Green ward. It will certainly be an interesting by-election.

4. white trash

The Greens: forever the political ingénues.

5. Speaker for the Commons

Kitcat

– the Masonic dual/Para_ll_el lines ‘symbolism’ again!

Whether he is one – or not!

They serve more than one master!
The interests of the public they swear to serve
– come LAST

6. Speaker for the Commons

“A_ll_owances”

(might be a clue in there!)

7. Josiah Mortimer

Disgraceful and cynical move by Labour. They could have helped stop the refuse worker pay cuts. Instead they chose to stand on the side-lines in the hope of destroying the Greens. Labour have shown they don’t actually oppose the cuts, they just despise the Greens.

8. Chaise Guevara

@ Beelzebub

“Because of course it’s much more important that male employees retain bonuses that were granted unfairly as a way of getting around equal pay legislation brought in about 20 years ago, than male and female workers get equal treatment.”

All hail the dark lord etc etc.

It really depends on the specifics. It’s possible (in fact very probable) that the plan involves lumping people in different roles with different levels of experience into “equivalent” categories and then just levelling out the pay. This would result in people who in reality do harder or more skillful work, or are just better at their jobs due to experience, having their pay cut simply because they possess the wrong genitalia. That is, at best, “positive discrimination”, also known as “discrimination”.

At absolute worst, the approach could be to assure that the total pay of men divided by number of men is identical to that of women. That would ignore some completely legit reasons for men having higher average pay, mainly the fact that they’re less likely to take years out to raise children.

Of course, it’s also possible that the salaries are systematically unfair and come from a simple policy of offering women less money. But unless these people have been in their jobs since the 70s I somewhat doubt it.

The obvious third option is to raise the pay of under-payed employees to bring it in line with other people’s, regardless of gender. But that could run into genuine budget problems.

“That would ignore some completely legit reasons for men having higher average pay, mainly the fact that they’re less likely to take years out to raise children”.

That is not a legit reason.

Yeah! Kick out the Kitcat!

If 40-year-old-men have 20 years experience in their jobs (average of those leaving school at 18 and those graduating at 21) and 40-year-old women have <10 years experience (mixture of those coming back to their old jobs and catching up on the bits they've missed and those taking up completely different jobs on returning to paid work) then it IS a legit reason for a differential in average pay.
I was told by my boss's boss that "I was the best xxx that yyy had ever had" but I was not ever paid as much as my elders. Should I suppose that in my position you would have sued?

12. Uncle Beelzebub

@ 8 Chaise.

Yeah, you’re right. If the government outlaws differentials so that men can’t be paid more than women, give the men a bonus instead, and then we’ll keep that going for the next 20 or more years. That’ll keep the brothers happy.

Get those women back making the tea while we men plan the revolution.

Jesus Christ. What fucking planet are you on?

The fact is that Brighton council have had years to deal with this and they’ve avoided doing so. The unions have colluded with numerous councils in maintaining this state of affairs. Then working class women twigged what was going on, and that for years, their own unions had been selling them out in pay bargaining deals.

Time’s run out!

@ 9 Carrie

I agree. Clearly some dinosaurs beg to differ.

““That would ignore some completely legit reasons for men having higher average pay, mainly the fact that they’re less likely to take years out to raise children”.

That is not a legit reason.”

If doing the job for x years makes you better at doing the job than some who has done it for fewer than x years then it’s an entirely legitimate reason.

I do agree that this is unlikely to be true of most of the people we’re talking about in this particular case. If you’ve carried dustbins or cooked the school food I doubt the job specific human capital increases all that much after what, a few months, a year, in the job?

But there are indeed jobs out there where, just imagine, 3 successive maternity leaves of a year each will reduce that necessary human capital.

Why has LC suppressed my main comment, just leaving my primary school explanation for Carrie?
@ #12 Uncle Beelzebub
There are bad excuses for paying some men more than women doing the same job and good reasons for paying men more than women doing a job judged to be equivalent – the classic case is Camell Laird where it was deemed illegal to pay men working outside in snow and rain a premium after (but not before) it was consolidated into pay because their hourly rate then exceeded the nominal rate for a cook – which ignored her time off during working hours, so that she was paid a higher rate per minute worked while comfortably indoors. Go and check it out!
All my employers in the last 40 years have paid women the same rate as men, but they were not union-controlled: it is in the interests of capitalists to ignore gender when setting pay-scales except when legislation adds significantly to the cost of hiring women: wage differentials between genders are generally generated by unions.

15. Uncle Beelzebub

Brighton has about 8,000 employees – not including teachers who aren’t involved in this deal.

Out of the 8,000, 7,000 are unaffected – their pay goes neither up nor down.

Of the remaining 1,000 workers, about 550 (mostly women cleaners) will receive a rise of about £1,100 pa. The remaining 450 (mostly men) will lose about 1,000 pa. This doesn’t come from their salaries, but from the various bonuses that the GMB has been negotiating for their male members for years – it’s all about keeping up the differentials brothers – with no regard to equality between men and women among Brighton’s workforce.

Those bin-men and street cleaners who lose some allowance will receive lump sum compensation payments. If a bin man loses £1,000 pa, then they will receive a lump sum one off payment of £3,500.

There are suspicions that this is all sneaky shit against the Greens from the GMB/Labour axis. I couldn’t say. What I can say is, that my own experiences in a major unitary authority would bear this out – we were expected to tolerate anything thrown at us when Labour were in charge, but to kick off at the slightest provocation when the Lib Dems were in.

My experiences would also bear out that unions will stand up for (mostly male) refuse collectors, while marginalising (mostly female) cleaners.

The problem that those like Caroline Lucas have is that they are refusing to address a past unfairness in the council. This is an especially pertinent issue for Greens, as part of their stated aim is to deal with unfairness on a global level. If they can’t even do it in relation to council pay, what chance have they of dealing realistically on the vast differentials that exist between some poor sod in Bangladesh and the average resident of Brighton?

16. Chaise Guevara

@ Carrie

“That is not a legit reason.”

Uh, you’re going to have to do a bit better than “Oh no it isn’t!” Kinda hard to discuss this one if you can’t be bothered to state your reasoning.

To clarify, I’m working on the basis that someone with more experience tends to be more valuable to the employer, which comfortably explain why they would be paid more without getting into accusations of sexism.

17. Andy Richards

Labour helping the Greens to get rid of the disastrous Kitcat would have been “unconstitutional” but Labour going into a coalition with UKIP (yes that’s right…UKIP!!!!) in Norfolk is OK, apparently.

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 Beelzebub

“Yeah, you’re right. If the government outlaws differentials so that men can’t be paid more than women, give the men a bonus instead, and then we’ll keep that going for the next 20 or more years. That’ll keep the brothers happy.

Get those women back making the tea while we men plan the revolution.

Jesus Christ. What fucking planet are you on?”

A different one from you, apparently, given that the above has fuck all to do with what I just said. When you’ve finished arguing with someone who exists only in your head, perhaps you should try reading my comment before you respond to it.

I mean, seriously, what the fuck did I do to you?

“The fact is that Brighton council have had years to deal with this and they’ve avoided doing so. The unions have colluded with numerous councils in maintaining this state of affairs. Then working class women twigged what was going on, and that for years, their own unions had been selling them out in pay bargaining deals.”

This is actually useful stuff which, if true, would very much incline me to believe that pay reform is needed. However, I am uncertain whether to take your words on faith given that you’ve just revealed yourself to be a lying arsehole.

See? This is why you should engage with issues like an adult, instead of utterly misrepresenting people’s views so you can demonise them.

“I agree. Clearly some dinosaurs beg to differ.”

Ah, drive-by snark. The perfect way to end a reply to a completely polite and friendly comment.

If you develop the ability to discuss the issue like an adult (or indeed discuss a single thing I actually said), then let me know. Otherwise I’ll assume this is just another case of Arseholes On The Internet.

19. Chaise Guevara

@ Carrie again

Just realised that you might have taken my comment to mean that women should be paid less to start with because the company fears that they will quit at some point in the future to raise kids. That is definitely not a legitimate reason, it’s textbook sex discrimination and is quite rightly illegal. And it’s not what I’m talking about. Just thought I should put that out there before we end up arguing at cross purposes. Again, kinda hard to know if you don’t explain what you mean.

It has to be said:
“have a break, have a Kitkat…”

Yes 450 people are losing average of just over £1000, but around 200 at Cityclean are losing around £2000 up to £4000.

Ironically those women (and men) cleaners,admin staff etc. benefiting are on same or BETTER basic pay. Cityclean workers are on lowest pay grade (starts £14,333) at council and around 10%-15% of those losing pay are women.

And it gets worse. Carers who are mainly women are losing out as a result of this (their car allowance is being cut). This is NOT about equalising pay between genders but equalusing pay of JOBS that are traditionally male or female. That is a subtle but important difference and means there are plenty of men (on higher salaries) benefiting and plenty of women (on lower salaries) losing out.

Also some of the paycuts are not about equalising pay at all. But supposedly to “simplify” allowance system. Detail too complex to go into here but this idea it us more simple is an absurd claim. A single payment to shift workers is being replaced by more complex system that pays different amounts to each individual. A bureaucratic mess. Greens have handed these negotiations to unelected officers thinking they would find “fair” solution to legitimate equal pay legislation, but no-one is neutral. Cutting higher grades us answer not attacking pay of those near bottom.

23. Uncle Beelzebub

18. Chaise Guevara

A different one from you, apparently, given that the above has fuck all to do with what I just said. When you’ve finished arguing with someone who exists only in your head, perhaps you should try reading my comment before you respond to it.

Erm… I was explaining why the fucking bonuses where created in the first place – something you never bothered to do before coming out with spurious crap about long time employees having more value than short time employees. Yes that may be the case in some jobs, but believe me, on the bins it ain’t.

This is actually useful stuff which, if true, would very much incline me to believe that pay reform is needed. However, I am uncertain whether to take your words on faith given that you’ve just revealed yourself to be a lying arsehole

Simple solution. Don’t take my word for it. This shit has been going on for years. The Brighton situation has been written about plenty in the local press, and in stuff like Red Pepper too. The same shit happened in Birmingham, plenty of other cities too. It was in the national news over two years ago when the female cleaners took their own union to court.

See? This is why you should engage with issues like an adult, instead of utterly misrepresenting people’s views so you can demonise them.

No Chaise, adults generally find out a little about a subject before the make statements. Children come out with frankly bigoted crap about how women should receive lower pay as part of an institutional system, and I quote:

That would ignore some completely legit reasons for men having higher average pay, mainly the fact that they’re less likely to take years out to raise children.

When you come out with shit like this you wonder why people get fucking angry? You’ve got a nerve!

If you want some rational reasons why increased pay simply on the basis of time served is crap ten think about these points.

1. It discriminates against people who are good at a given job just because they haven’t been there long. I’ve seen this time and time again in working for the mighty council.

2. It is bad for the council tax payer / service recipient. People who live in a place where seniority and pay are based on time serving suffer because of the time server culture that this pay system fosters.

3. It creates resentment among capable employees who haven’t been in a workplace for years, making it more likely that they’ll leave (and they do, I’ve seen it) thus losing valuable human resources, thus fostering the problems at 1 & 2.

4. It discriminates against women for the obvious reason – children.

“I agree. Clearly some dinosaurs beg to differ.”

Ah, drive-by snark. The perfect way to end a reply to a completely polite and friendly comment.

Yes, a drive by snark delivered to somebody who thinks that:

But unless these people have been in their jobs since the 70s I somewhat doubt it.

That comment just shows how little you know about internal practices in councils and how council jobs work at the lower level.

If you develop the ability to discuss the issue like an adult (or indeed discuss a single thing I actually said), then let me know. Otherwise I’ll assume this is just another case of Arseholes On The Internet.

As I said earlier, adults try and find something out about a subject before they make comments.

Arseholes on the Internet? Aren’t they the people who sit behind their keyboards pontificating about subjects they know nothing about?

Do some research on subjects before you sound off, and you might find that fewer people will think you’re the [sexist] arsehole.

24. Planeshift

I’m sure young people reading this will be enthused about local politics and think “thats for me!”.

CityClean workers are already on the lowest basic pay scale at B&H council (£14,333-£15444pa). NOBODY IS PAID LESS THAN THIS. The allowances are between £600 and £4800 depending on shift pattern and extra tasks taken on i.e driving or working outside set hours, assisted collections for disabled, chargehand tasks etc. For example those on 6 week rolling rota work 5 wkds in 6 incl b.hols, even xmas day. For this they currently get around £4,000 in allowances. The council are scrapping this & replacing with much lower rates which mean workers losing around £2,000 on average up to £4000 and bank holiday lieu days.

If these proposals go through CityClean workers will include some of lowest paid in council while a lot of the gainers on higher pay scales already will find their pay is HIGHER for similar work patterns. So, please DON’T think this is about equalising pay. It isn’t!

For clarification, council officers have decided fair is limiting “numbers” of staff affected by adjustments rather than limiting “impact”. The whole burden of cuts in this review is falling on around 4% of staff who are low paid. Alternative which equally addresses the few affected by legislation is to spread much smaller negligible cuts across more staff & across higher pay grades. For some reason high paid senior officers have decided against this option and fooled some Green councillors into thinking this cannot be done for whatever reasons!

26. Charlieman

@18. Chaise Guevara: “If you develop the ability to discuss the issue like an adult (or indeed discuss a single thing I actually said), then let me know.”

I have to say, Chaise, that Uncle Beelzebub has shown himself to be a respectful commenter thus far.

A problem about discussing Brighton’s pay changes is that we are not privy to their history. When we make assumptions about the past and present, there are opportunities to be wrong. What happens at other places may untrue in Brighton, or untrue within employment divisions at the council.

Uncle Beelzebub @15 had a go at defining the changes that are proposed in Brighton.

I suspect that council officers may have been playing games with councillors, suggesting undeliverable wage cuts for some (mostly male) workforces.

27. Derek Hattons Tailor

@ 23

“1. It discriminates against people who are good at a given job just because they haven’t been there long. I’ve seen this time and time again in working for the mighty council.”

This is not discrimination, it’s a simple fact of life that job performance increases with experience. By definition someone on day 1 is not as good at any job as someone with a years experience – ever heard of the learning curve ? Put it another way, would you rather be a surgeon’s first ever heart op or his 100th ? Besides, if you really are good then you’ll get promoted and paid more. If you’re average, then after doing it for a while you’ll get a pay rise

“2. It is bad for the council tax payer / service recipient. People who live in a place where seniority and pay are based on time serving suffer because of the time server culture that this pay system fosters.”

You mean a culture of loyalty, of experience ? This sounds like the same argument feminists use against highly profitable companies who are apparently missing out on a huge talent pool of returning to work women. What they mean is women want accelerated promotion so that they can return from their career breaks and earn a high salary for part time hours. This argument, swallowed whole by the last government, is why the NHS now pays GPs more than they have earned in the history of the profession, despite the job being less demanding.

3″. It creates resentment among capable employees who haven’t been in a workplace for years, making it more likely that they’ll leave (and they do, I’ve seen it) thus losing valuable human resources, thus fostering the problems at 1 & 2.”

You are contradicting yourself, you want to retain staff but that creates the “time server” culture you complain of @2. So what if they leave ? It’s a fact of life that younger people change jobs more often, trying to find their niche. It’s also a fact of life that some organizations want a young demographic (typically tech/media industries). How many over 40s does google/apple employ and who are they discriminating against ?

“4. It discriminates against women for the obvious reason – children.”

No – it rewards people who stay in the workforce and gain experience. Women choose to have children, that is their choice and their responsibility. Their employers have wider responsibilities to clients/service users/shareholders.

Just want to clarify to some people here. These pay changes are NOT about equalising pay between men and women. They not even about equalising pay at all!

CityClean are on lowest pay grade at council. These changes are to make sure they are also on LOWEST allowances for shiftwork etc. too.

Allowances are percentage of pay. So those on higher grades will mainly get bigger allowances and those at bottom will see reductions.

B&H are progressive in that they from April now pay £7.45

£7.45ph to lowest grade. But that is only change that has benefitted low paid.

If this about men and women equal pay, why are some carers (who are mainly women) also losing out?

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 26 Charlieman

Flat-out lying about what other posters say in order to demonise them doesn’t seem particularly respectful to me.

31. Chaise Guevara

@ 23 Beelzebub

“Erm… I was explaining why the fucking bonuses where created in the first place – something you never bothered to do before coming out with spurious crap about long time employees having more value than short time employees.”

What I objected to was you coming out with spurious crap about how women should stay in the kitchen and make tea, and then hanging it on me for no reason under the Sun.

“Yes that may be the case in some jobs, but believe me, on the bins it ain’t.”

I’m not going to just believe you, as you’re not exactly coming off as Captain Reasonable thus far. And we’re just discussing bins, then?

“Simple solution. Don’t take my word for it. This shit has been going on for years.”

Fine, I’ll look into it. But if you have supporting evidence, why not just link to it instead of insulting people?

“No Chaise, adults generally find out a little about a subject before the make statements. Children come out with frankly bigoted crap about how women should receive lower pay as part of an institutional system, and I quote:

That would ignore some completely legit reasons for men having higher average pay, mainly the fact that they’re less likely to take years out to raise children.

When you come out with shit like this you wonder why people get fucking angry? You’ve got a nerve!”

I personally don’t get resentful if I find out a colleague earns more than me due to long service. It’s utterly standard practice and makes perfect sense to me. I certainly don’t immediately assume it’s because they’re bigoted against my gender/race/sexuality/religion.

“If you want some rational reasons why increased pay simply on the basis of time served is crap ten think about these points.”

So you’re FINALLY going to actually explain your position instead of just making ridiculous accusations. Congrats.

“It discriminates against people who are good at a given job just because they haven’t been there long. I’ve seen this time and time again in working for the mighty council.”

Well, sorta, but if you’re good you’ve got a better chance of climbing the ladder quickly (in general, I don’t know if Brighton has a “promote crap people” policy). It’s basically impossible to create a system where people get paid based on precisely how good they are, and the incentive schemes used to approximate this tend to skew people’s priorities in a bad way. Look at all those people mis-sold PPI because the sellers were given commission for it. And it’s not really unfair because we all start at the bottom, shitty nepotistic hirings aside.

“It is bad for the council tax payer / service recipient. People who live in a place where seniority and pay are based on time serving suffer because of the time server culture that this pay system fosters.”

It’s not flawless, but what alternatives do you propose? As mentioned, I generally find that performance-related pay is bad for customers. And generally longer-serving staff are better simply because the job is second nature to them, not to mention that skills are developed as you go. So if you want to just pay everyone a flat rate, you’ll hemorrhage your best employees as they quit to find employers who’ll pay them what they’re worth.

“It creates resentment among capable employees who haven’t been in a workplace for years, making it more likely that they’ll leave (and they do, I’ve seen it) thus losing valuable human resources, thus fostering the problems at 1 & 2.”

This may be a personal perspective thing. As I said, I don’t feel discriminated against because a more experienced person gets paid more than I do.

“It discriminates against women for the obvious reason – children.”

That’s not discrimination, any more than it’s discrimination to employ primary school teachers simply because most of them are women. It’s a simple demographic fact that women are more likely to take time out of their careers, and hence have less work experience on average. This is why simply finding the mean pay of each gender than declaring whichever earns less to be victims of discrimination is ridiculously simplistic.

If I had kids and the mother and I decided that she would stay in work while I stayed at home to look after them for a few years, I would not feel misused on returning to work to find that women who had spent that time working were now earning more than me.

“Yes, a drive by snark delivered to somebody who thinks that:

But unless these people have been in their jobs since the 70s I somewhat doubt it.

That comment just shows how little you know about internal practices in councils and how council jobs work at the lower level.”

I strongly suspect you’re trying to apply my comment more widely than it was meant. The “since the 70s” thing was referring to jobs taken when employers could openly offer lower rates for women without being sued or at least mass boycotted. Full disclosure – I don’t know if this was in fact the case in the 70s, although I do know that back then you could tell women that a certain job “wasn’t women’s work”.

“Arseholes on the Internet? Aren’t they the people who sit behind their keyboards pontificating about subjects they know nothing about?”

If I see one, I’ll let them know. But I definitely think that accusing people of sexism (and proper old-school “women, know your limits” sexism to boot!) based on absolutely fuck-all qualifies you for arsehole status. Double points for doing so in response to a perfectly polite comment.

“Do some research on subjects before you sound off, and you might find that fewer people will think you’re the [sexist] arsehole.”

Believe it or not, I don’t suffer from a lot of people thinking I’m a sexist arsehole. I imagine that’s because I’m not a sexist arsehole. I’m not going to buy into your delusion just because you throw your toys out of the pram when someone has the gall to disagree with you on anything.

Sifting the few nuggets of actual content from your words, I think that what’s annoying you is a) your instinctive desire to see sexism wherever you look, and b) the fact that I was talking in general terms when you are aware of things specific to this case which might mean those general issues don’t apply here. Can’t help you with A, but we could move forward on B were you to actually discuss these specifics instead of building straw men to set fire to.

32. Robin Levett

@Neil Harding #21:

This is NOT about equalising pay between genders but equalusing pay of JOBS that are traditionally male or female.

And?

It’s been a very long time since employers could get away with paying different wages to men and women doing exactly the same job; instead, they started paying higher wages to jobs in areas dominated by men, to the detriment of those employed in equivalent jobs dominated by women. That was what the Birmingham case was all about. The last refuge of unequal pay is allowances; paying extra allowances to those taking on duties that were nominally available to both sexes, but were more difficult for women to take on. Weekend working is an example; there is still an expectation that the wife is the primary childcarer and homemaker, making weekend working more difficult for them. You highlight a rolling rota downthread which involves payments of £4k allowances for working weekends and bank holidays, as well as days off being given in lieu for bank holidays worked. Do you have any figures for the sex of those involved in those rotas?

33. Chaise Guevara

@ 32 Robin

I hadn’t thought of that, and it certainly would be a method of getting gendered pay in the back door. But do you have reasons for believing that to be the motive? All else being equal, it seems to me more likely that people get paid extra for working weekends because working weekends is unpopular.

34. Robin Levett

@Neil Harding:

Quoting from your blog on this topic:

Some Greens including Kitcat are claiming it would cost £30m and bankrupt the council to put this right without cutting pay.

For that £30m figure to be correct, every single one of the 6,000 employees that the council control wages for, would have to see a rise in pay of £5,000. Ridiculous. It would cost £2.5m, 1.4% of wage bill for the 6% of staff underpaid to be equal paid. A pay freeze & £50k cap would easily provide that.

You are ignoring history. Levelling-up pay would have to involve compensating those workers whose pay was levelled-up for many years of underpayment. That is where the real budgetary problem arises, not on current and ongoing pay. That is where Birmingham has such a problem.

35. Robin Levett

@Chaise #34:

All else being equal, it seems to me more likely that people get paid extra for working weekends because working weekends is unpopular.

Which is why no-one ever volunteers for weekend working on enhanced rates of pay?

Equal pay doesn’t override business necessity; by which I mean that if there is a genuine need for enhanced pay for weekend working, this won’t be unequal. Because of the distribution of family responsibilities, however, men are more likely to be prepared to work unsocial hours, so the business case for enhanced pay in male-dominated occupations is weakened. And, again, there is a degree of inertia such that weekend allowances – and in particular payments for being prepared to work unsocial hours, as opposed to actually working them – have often remained in place long after the need for them has gone.

36. Derek Hattons Tailor

@35 The distribution of family responsibilities is not the employers problem and should not influence pay policy. And, as most women who have family responsibilities live with men anyway, they benefit from the shift premium indirectly as well.
The fact is, if you offer no premium for working unpopular shifts then no one will request them. Solution: everyone gets rostered equal numbers of unpopular shifts and no one gets any allowances. Result for the employer whose pay bill goes down and whose workforce flexibility goes up, but not for the workforce who are forced to work when it may cause them domestic issues, and who overall will get paid less. “Equality” in pay has a funny habit of sucking downwards, rather than pulling upwards.

I would anyway question your assumption that men are prepared to work more unsocial hours. Many female dominated professions (e.g health and social care) rely on shift work to achieve 24 hr coverage. Many women with school age children work night shifts in the NHS as it fits better with the school day. Many people from non-christian cultures will volunteer for christian bank holidays, etc etc.

37. Robin Levett

@DHT #36:

You might want to consider the outcome of Barker v Birmingham CCC before commenting further.

@ #34 Robin Levett
“Levelling-up pay would have to involve compensating those workers whose pay was levelled-up for many years of underpayment”
That may be morally desirable, but since these employees voluntarily accepted their jobs under the original terms one may ask why it is necessary. [For avoidance of doubt, I am not, and never have, a ratepayer/council-tax-payer in either Brighton or Birmingham or anywhere else beginning with B].
I am, as previously stated,opposed to retrospective legislation to reduce the pay of public sector workers that had previously been mutually agreed: the converse is that I see no need to retrospectively increase pay that had been mutually agreed.

39. Chaise Guevara

@ Robin

“Which is why no-one ever volunteers for weekend working on enhanced rates of pay?”

Don’t follow. Working weekends is unpopular, companies use enhanced pay to sweeten the deal.

“And, again, there is a degree of inertia such that weekend allowances – and in particular payments for being prepared to work unsocial hours, as opposed to actually working them – have often remained in place long after the need for them has gone.”

I used to get double time for working Sundays at a supermarket, when Saturdays only gsve time-and-a-half. No idea why. Sundays were easy.

All of this adds up to legit, non-sexist motivation, btw.

@ Chaise
FYI Double time for Sundays, time-and-a-half for Saturdays was traditional 50-60 years ago.
Why? Devout Christians, particularly Non-conformists wouldn’t do paid work on Sundays and they were generally the ones most willing to work overtime other days.
So, to get enough volunteers for Sunday working continuous-process factories had to offer double pay. This was established custom before supermarkets were invented let alone before non-Jewish shops were generally allowed to open on Sundays.
It didn’t make economic sense for supermarkets but it was cheaper to accept paying over the odds for staff (a smallish minority of costs) one day a week than face a strike.

41. Chaise Guevara

40 john77

I did wonder if that was it. I mean, Friday is a bigger night out than Saturday (based on my anecdotal observation of how many seats are to be had in the pub on those nights), which makes working Saturday daytime worse than working Sunday. Plus Sunday is when places tend to be shut, so it’s not an awesome day to have off.

So I got double time for some Christian artifact? Sweet. They do keep telling me there’s a point to religion.

Speaking as a pedant, I have to say, not actually an artifact – beliefs and consequent behaviours are non-material. However, in this context you might like the claim that the Church is “the only institution that exists for the benefit of non-members”

43. Chaise Guevara

@ John77

For our benefit, eh? Good to know.

Yeah, ok. When I said “artifact”, I meant “leftover”. Couldn’t quite find the mot juste. I may have been playing too many videogames where ancient swords and whatnot are described as artifacts and are Very Important Things that keep the plot rolling.

Regardless, I’m feeling pretty smug about being paid way too much simply for not going to church.

@ Chaise
It’s like the premium for working nights: those who don’t mind too much (or actually like) working when some object to doing so get premium pay.
It’s not just “going to church” – I once had a discussion, when working on a project in Eastern Europe, with my immediate boss who was Honorary Treasurer of his local Synagogue and knew a lot more about Christian theology than I: it is about how one regards Sunday/the Sabbath: I am not competent to write on this,even in an appropriate forum.
However I *can* partially understand your second paragraph as my elder son has tried, with limited success, to din some of that into my head over the last decade.

45. Robin Levett

@john77 #38:

“Levelling-up pay would have to involve compensating those workers whose pay was levelled-up for many years of underpayment”
That may be morally desirable, but since these employees voluntarily accepted their jobs under the original terms one may ask why it is necessary.

Because it’s the law?

And one must also question how voluntary it is.

I am, as previously stated,opposed to retrospective legislation to reduce the pay of public sector workers that had previously been mutually agreed: the converse is that I see no need to retrospectively increase pay that had been mutually agreed

These are not equivalent positions. I too am opposed to retrospective legislation; but the Equal Pay Act 1970 does not operate retrospectively. Since it was passed, every employee’s contract has included a term requiring the employer to treat him/her equally. For obvious reasons, that is not a term that can be contractually excluded from the contract. Single Status job evaluation was a mechanism agreed between local authority employers and their employees representatives to set out what “equal treatment” actually meant. I am struggling to understand why the employer should not be required to compensate employees for breaches of that term, as clarified by agreement between the parties. Could you explain?

46. Robin Levett

@CG #39:

I’m not quite sure what you mean by “non-sexist”. The discrimination is gender-based, when those able to take advantage of the scheme – in Birmingham’s case, (to (over-)simplify) bonuses rolled up into basic pay simply for doing the job as per employment contract – are overwhelmingly male, and no scheme exists for those doing equivalent work but in female-dominated occupations.

@ Robin Levett
Either the contracts were illegal in the first place and the union officials and local government executives who colluded to break the law should be prosecuted under the laws against conspiracy or they were legal in which case no compensation is required by law. So far as I can see no union officials or Brighton Council managers have been arrested and charged, so your assumption that the pay structure was actually illegal rather than immoral is not proven.
As far as I know we haven’t had compulsory employment in this country since they abolished National Service, well before 1970. Anyone who sought employment with Brighton Council did so of their own free will.

48. Robin Levett

@john77 #47:

I don’t know where your idea comes from that these contracts were “illegal”. The effect of the Act is that every contract since 1970 has had an equal treatment clause read into it by law. The compensation would be due because of breach of that term by Brighton. This is not a matter of criminal law; nor is it, with respect, rocket science.

@ Robin
Conspiracy to deprive workers of their lawful entitlement to income (or for most other ends) is a crime.
Until the alleged conspirators are arrested, I shall remain agnostic. You may know a lot more than me about this but *I* have no proof that the contracts were actually illegal rather than immorally finding a way round the law.

50. Robin Levett

@john77 #49:

Conspiracy to deprive workers of their lawful entitlement to income (or for most other ends) is a crime.

Until the alleged conspirators are arrested, I shall remain agnostic. You may know a lot more than me about this but *I* have no proof that the contracts were actually illegal rather than immorally finding a way round the law.

I repeat – the issue isn’t whether the contracts were “illegal”; they weren’t. The issue is whether the council in question was in breach of the equal treatment clause in the contract. Read about Barker v Birmingham CCC for an example. The fact that you might be able to see a possible crime in a version of the facts doesn’t mean you’re entitled to ignore the breach of contract staring you in the face.

It may be staring *you* in the face but until I see criminal charges against union officials …
In the 70s, we had criminal prosecutions of companies and directors for colluding to fix prices by failing to compete in cutting prices against each other.

52. Robin Levett

@john77:

How many more times…?

This. Is. Not. A. Criminal. Law. Issue.

There are no criminal penalties for breach of the EPA in this respect. The whole idea of the Act was to make it a question of contract law, enforceable by civil claims.

53. Chaise Guevara

@ 46 Robin

“The discrimination is gender-based, when those able to take advantage of the scheme – in Birmingham’s case, (to (over-)simplify) bonuses rolled up into basic pay simply for doing the job as per employment contract – are overwhelmingly male, and no scheme exists for those doing equivalent work but in female-dominated occupations.”

That’s not gender-based, it’s incidental demographic trends. Unless of course the actual plan is to get more men into work and everything else is a stalking horse, but you’d be needing to provide evidence of that.

Otherwise a brand of ice-cream whose customers are only 45% women is, y’know, an evil sexist ice-cream.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. GMB workers slam Labour party for “selling out” in Brighton | Liberal Conspiracy

    [...] after it was revealed that a Green councillor had privately approached the Labour group leader for help in ousting council leader Jason Kitcat, also a Green [...]

  2. Liberal Conspiracy: GMB workers slam Labour party for “selling out” in Brighton | moonblogsfromsyb

    [...] after it was revealed that a Green councillor had privately approached the Labour group leader for help in ousting council leader Jason Kitcat, also a Green [...]

  3. Politicians struggle with authenticity on Twitter, self-censorship prevails - Wired.co.uk - TWITTEROO.NET

    [...] tweets. We have Brighton’s Green Party council naively discussing a planned coup in Direct Messages that went public, Rob Wilson pasting a link to a porn site,  and of course Ed Balls’ mistaking the [...]

  4. Politicians struggle with authenticity on Twitter, self-censorship prevails |

    [...] tweets. We have Brighton’s Green Party council naively discussing a planned coup in Direct Messages that went public, Rob Wilson pasting a link to a porn site, and of course Ed Balls’ mistaking the tweet box [...]

  5. Politicians struggle with authenticity on Twitter, self-censorship prevails « Tony Rocha Official Blog

    [...] tweets. We have Brighton’s Green Party council naively discussing a planned coup in Direct Messages that went public, Rob Wilson pasting a link to a porn site,  and of course Ed Balls’ mistaking the tweet box [...]

  6. Politicians struggle with authenticity on Twitter, self-censorship prevails « Tony Rocha Official Blog

    [...] tweets. We have Brighton’s Green Party council naively discussing a planned coup in Direct Messages that went public, Rob Wilson pasting a link to a porn site, and of course Ed Balls’ mistaking the tweet box [...]

  7. Politicians struggle with authenticity on Twitter , self – censorship prevails | News From Twitter

    [...] We have Brighton’s Green Party legislature naively deliberating a designed manoeuvre in Direct Messages that went public, Rob Wilson pasting a couple to a porn site, and of march Ed Balls’ mistaking a twitter box [...]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.