More than 8,000 Glasgow City Council (GCC) employees are staging a 48-hour strike today (23 October 2018) over the lack of progress on equal pay claims.
The workers, who are members of the GMB and Unison unions, began the industrial action at 7am today, leading to the closure of primary schools, nurseries and additional support schools. Other services, such as home care services, have also been affected.
The dispute relates to a pay and benefits system introduced for GCC workers over a decade ago, which campaigners say led to workers in predominantly female roles, such as catering or cleaning, earning up to £3 an hour less than those in male-dominated jobs, such as refuse collection.
Following two judgments against the council in the Court of Session, the GCC SNP-led administration said in January 2018 that it planned to settle around 12,000 claims. However, the unions say talks over the last 10 months have made no progress.
Rhea Wolfson, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “The voice of Glasgow’s working women will be heard around the world. After decades of rampant sex discrimination they will tell their employer, ‘Stop the delays. We want justice’.”
Mary Dawson, Unison Glasgow chairwoman, said: “We have given the council 10 months to make progress on addressing the historical discrimination suffered by these workers.
“However, the council has agreed nothing, offered nothing and all we have had are meetings about meetings and talks about talks. It’s time for some action.”
The GCC said progress had been made in the dispute and that it had hoped to agree a settlement figure in December, but warned this could now be delayed due to the industrial action.
A council spokesperson said: “We understand why many of our workforce are angry about equal pay and we are also very aware of the depth of feeling there is behind this industrial action.
“However, the council is already committed to delivering equal pay and reaching a negotiated settlement on claims. There is nothing that the strike can achieve that we are not already doing, and we are anxious to see everyone back around the table in good faith to move things forward.”
Campaign group Action 4 Equality has estimated that backdated claims and pay increases could eventually cost GCC between £500 million and £1 billion.