Glasgow council workers to protest over equal pay

Council workers are to protest outside Glasgow’s city chambers on Thursday ahead of a ballot on strike action over equal pay.

Thousands of staff represented by UNISON, the GMB and Unite will be asked whether they want to walk out as a long-running dispute with the council continues.

Workers previously took to the streets in protest in October 2018 to demand equal pay. A settlement, worth over £500m, was agreed with around 16,000 current and former employees in 2019.

There was no information about where the tree would go.There was no information about where the tree would go.
There was no information about where the tree would go.

However, a new pay and grading scheme is required as staff continue to be paid unfairly.

Union reps have said the fight for equality is “far from over” and claim the council is now “refusing to pay up” and attempting to divide the workforce by excluding many jobs that were previously paid out.

A council spokesman said the pay and grading process, which isn’t expected to be complete until 2024, has been delayed by the covid pandemic. They believed negotiations had been “constructive”.

There are also talks over the settlement of pay claims not included in the deal made in 2019, which only covered the period from January 1 2007 to March 31 2018.

Kath Stirling, UNISON branch chairperson, said: “Thousands of workers, overwhelmingly women, were paid out in 2019 because their pay was unequal — nothing has changed since then, it’s still unequal.

“The same jobs in the same unequal pay scheme. Yet the council is now refusing to pay up and trying to exclude many jobs. The council’s actions are a cynical ploy to divide trade unionists.

“The trade unions are demanding that the council apply the 2019 arrangement to those claimants who have never received anything — so-called “new claims” — and also use the 2019 arrangements to calculate a new round of interim payments for all eligible workers because of the delay in implementing the new pay and grading system.

“The fight for pay equality in Glasgow is far from over.”

There are 9,000 UNISON members affected and 5,000 from the GMB and Unite. UNISON held a consultative ballot in November and 97% of members voted for strike action, on an average turnout of around 50% across various ballots.

Over 8,000 members were consulted, and the ballots covered staff in home care, cleaning, catering, nurseries, schools, care homes, homelessness hostels and administration.

The council spokesman said: “The introduction of the new pay and grading scheme has been delayed by Covid. That process requires hundreds of face-to-face interviews, which unions themselves felt should not go ahead during the pandemic.

“On the other issues, the terms of this ballot simply do not reflect what we had believed were constructive, ongoing and confidential negotiations.

“We will contact the unions today. However, it is incredibly disappointing that they have chosen to do this while negotiations are ongoing.”

The protest will begin at 12.30pm on Thursday and ballot papers are to be sent out to workers from January 31.