Glasgow women’s strike gets results as Council agrees to £500 million pay-out

Ben Wray

Union organiser says settlement is compensation for “decades of systematic gender discrimination”

  • The £500 million settlement is worth £35,000 per claimant on average
  • The settlement comes after 13 years, with the previous Labour administration fighting against the pay out in the courts
  • The two-day ‘women’s strike’ in October last year was historic

GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL and trade unions have agreed a £500 million settlement for historic equal pay claims, after a women’s strike in October last year. 

The two-day strike, which saw 8,000 female workers in some of the lowest paid jobs in Glasgow picket and march through the city, was thought to be path-breaking internationally.

The long-running pay dispute began in 2006 when the then Labour-led council introduced a new pay review scheme which led to female-dominated roles such as carers and cooks being payed up to £3 an hour less than male-dominated roles of equal value, such as rubbish collection. The scheme has been challenged by council staff since 2009 and was ruled inappropriate by the Court of Session in August 2017.

Stefan Cross QC from Action4equality, the law firm working with Unison, GMB and Unite on the case, said. “Since the strike there has been real and constructive negotiations. Neither side has got everything it wanted and both sides have made serious concessions so that we can both be satisfied that this is a fair deal.”

The £500 million settlement means the women who made claims are set for a £35,000 pay-out per person on average.

READ MORE: ‘This is not a fight about party politics’: Women’s equal pay strike rocks Glasgow

Commenting on the deal, Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said: “My commitment to resolving this issue has never wavered and I have never needed to be convinced of the case for equality

“I would like to thank each and every council officer who has been involved in this at times extremely challenging process, the claimants’ representatives who have steadfastly represented their members and clients throughout and the claimants themselves for their patience.

“After a decade of obstruction and inaction, in a relatively short space of time we have now reached agreement which delivers the pay justice these women long have fought for.

READ MORE: Analysis: Tribal politics over the Glasgow women’s strike misses the systemic nature of the issue

“I am proud to be able to recommend a settlement to right this historic injustice and I trust colleagues across the chambers will support this deal and the work we must undertake to address the future challenges it places before us.”

The previous Labour-run council had fought in the courts against the female workers pay demands. When coming to power in 2017, Aitken said she would have settled the case by the end of 2018. She was critical of the two-day strike, saying that the women did not know what they were striking for and that it would only delay a settlement being reached.

GMB Scotland Organiser Hazel Nolan said: “This is a significant moment and is recognition of the value of women in this city, brought about by the women themselves understanding their own value and fighting for it together.

“Much will be said about the scale of the settlement reached but when you’re a worker on a wage what you’re selling ultimately is your time, and decades of systematic gender discrimination meant that women in Glasgow were forced to work longer hours for less.

“We need to be clear that this can only financially compensate women for the time stolen from them, the time that could have been spent with their families and loved ones can’t be repaid.

“What is important now is that the claimants and their families can have confidence in this agreement and in the process of delivery in the coming weeks and months.”

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