Glasgow council workers demand equal pay at protest

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Workers gathered outside Glasgow City Chambers to demand the council give workers equal pay as a long-running dispute continues.

Thousands of predominantly female staff — represented by Unite, UNISON and the GMB — are to be balloted for strike action over the equal pay row.

A settlement, worth over £500m, was agreed with around 16,000 current and former employees in 2019, but many staff are still paid unfairly.

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Workers protested outside Glasgow City Chambers.Workers protested outside Glasgow City Chambers.
Workers protested outside Glasgow City Chambers. | Contributed

That deal covered pay claims up to March 31, 2018 and talks have been ongoing over more recent claims, as well as the roll out of a new pay and grading scheme.

Union representatives say talks are at a “standstill” and council bosses are going back on their word, but Glasgow’s local authority says the delay is due to the covid pandemic.

A spokesman for the council said they believed talks had been “constructive” and the unions had agreed to the delay in the roll out of the new pay and grading system.

What do the women want?

Outside the city chambers, workers called on the council to take action to ensure the women received their money.

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Kath Stirling, branch chair at Glasgow City UNISON, said: “We were paid out in 2019, they’re going back on that deal.

“They are trying now to exclude people from that deal. There has been a big delay through the pandemic, but the bottom line is that’s not an excuse.

“This is money that was stolen, it’s stolen wages from these low paid women. We are demanding that they pay up, they get a deal on the table and we want the same as 2019, with no changes.”

GMB convener Shona Thomson said: “We just feel that we are at a standstill again.

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“It’s a case that the goalposts are getting changed. We want another interim payment paid out and we want it based on the agreement that was made in 2019.”

She added the council “knew the extent” of the equal pay settlement when they agreed to resolve it.

“They did partially but they must have known back then what monies they would need to complete this.”

Walk out

More than 9000 UNISON members and around 5000 from the GMB and Unite will be asked whether they want to walk out.

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In a consultative ballot in November, 97 per cent of UNISON members voted for strike action, on an average turnout of around 50 per cent across various ballots.

Over 8000 members were consulted, with the ballots covering staff in home care, cleaning, catering, nurseries, schools, care home, homelessness hostels and administration.

Council response

The council spokesman said: “Staff are, of course, entitled to voice any concerns they have. However, the terms of the ballot they have been asked to take part in simply do not reflect what we had, until this week, believed were constructive, ongoing and confidential negotiations.

“The introduction of the new pay and grading scheme has been delayed by Covid. That delay was agreed by unions, which play a key role in the governance of the project.

“The process requires hundreds of face-to-face interviews, which unions themselves felt should not go ahead during the pandemic.”

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