Council Borrowing Blamed On The Women Workers

I am a little bit preoccupied at the moment to blog in any meaningful sense, but this poor piece of journalism in the Guardian struck me as deserving of comment.

It concerns Birmingham City Council and the possibility that they will have to borrow over £300 million to meet their legal obligations after losing a major equal pay case.

What is surprising in the article, is where the blame is placed. It implies that the equal pay claims are at fault, but for them Birmingham City Council would not go bankrupt, or be in this situation.

“The country’s largest local authority faces a potential bill of £757m to settle a string of equal pay claims lodged by mainly women workers, amid speculation that other councils and private sector firms could be targeted by a new wave of legal action.

Birmingham city council said on Monday the figure combined the “actual and potential” equal pay settlements between 2006 and 2012, including a recent ruling in favour of 170 low-paid women staff, and could rise if more claims were made.

The council has applied to the local government secretary, Eric Pickles, for permission to borrow £325m on top of the £430m already secured to help fund the pay claims.

The council leader, Sir Albert Bore, said the costs would have to be taken from the council’s day-to-day running costs, putting it at risk of bankruptcy if permission for the loan was refused.”

What it ignores is all the more annoying.

  • One, the equal pay legislation dates back to 1970, that is 42 years.
  • Two, Birmingham council had a legal obligation to comply with this longstanding legislation.
  • Three, its senior managers and Councillors were aware of their legal obligations.
  • Four, they chose to fight a battle they could not win.

Ultimately, it is the poor quality of management from senior managers and the Councillors at Birmingham City Council that are to blame.

It is not the women’s fault for desiring equal pay and conditions, maybe next time the Guardian should remind its readers of those facts.


The New Statesman’s Faulty Cartography

One noticeable aspect of the debate on the Middle East is not the lack of opinions, rather the inability to render history with any competence or accuracy.

I can understand polemics, they might be unhelpful but that’s what people do.

The problem in the West is the shaky grasp of facts that comes out whenever the Middle East is discussed.

One example of that phenomenon is the strikingly poor cartography found recently at the New Statesman, as shown below:

The top left image purports to show Palestine under the British Mandate between 1920-48.

However, it misses off over 32,000 square miles, ceded to Transjordan in the early 1920s.

That is a major omission for a modern publication.

After all it is entitled: Palestine British Mandate.

Missing a few miles might have been acceptable, but losing more than 32,000 sq. miles is incredibly sloppy for the New Statesman.

This Dartmouth College’s map of the region, just prior to division of the British Mandate in 1922: