Scotland’s biggest local authority faces new strike threat over £500million equal pay line
SCOTLAND’s biggest local authority faces a new threat of strike action as concerns grow over the backtracking of a deal to settle a dispute that has cost more than £500million to end ‘chronic gender discrimination‘ “.
Public service union Unison says women are being voted for strike action over euqal pay after what unions claimed were issues stalling an equal pay deal that could see thousands of workers excluded from future payments.
The council had partly settled with 13,000 women at a total cost of £505million in 2019.
But now unions say more than 5,000 claimants have still not received settlements for the period up to March 2018, and 18,000 claimants are still awaiting settlements for the period after March 2018.
Unions remain concerned that the new pay and classification system aimed at eliminating gender wage discrimination will not be implemented until 2024 due to the volume of work involved in evaluating jobs and creating the new system.
Unions have lobbied for new compensation for equal pay.
Scotland’s largest local government union, Unison – along with other unions – is polling members and urging them to vote yes to the strike.
The union says that despite promises from Glasgow City Council to settle equal pay claims, thousands of women are still stuck on unequal pay scales, waiting for their claims to be settled in full.
READ MORE: Glasgow council faces legal action over new £310m equal pay line as ‘chronic gender discrimination’ continues
Christina McAnea, General Secretary of Unison, said: “Glasgow City Council women have had promise after promise on equal pay and this saga has been going on for decades. Keeping women waiting for many more years is not acceptable.
“This is a debt owed to the women of the town and must be paid. If it were the other way around, the council would not delay at all in initiating collection action to recover the debts owed to them .
“The matter is undoubtedly complicated, but it is not fair to keep the women of Glasgow hanging on. The board must not waive the terms of the 2019 deal. They must make a meaningful offer to settle this dispute for a long time.”
The council was praised two years ago by a regulator for its progress in partially settling the equal pay dispute.
The Scottish Board of Auditors said the handling of complaints had been a “significant development” with more than 98 per cent of cases partially settled.
The plaintiff group entered into the equal pay agreement with the board in 2018.
READ MORE: ‘Deeply concerning’: Glasgow equal pay ‘ticking time bomb’ remains ‘unresolved’
It came after around 8,000 Glasgow City Council workers went on strike for 48 hours in October 2018 in a bid to settle the long-standing wage claim.
The dispute centered on workers in traditionally female-dominated jobs, such as catering or home care, paid up to £3 an hour less than those in male-dominated jobs, such as garbage collectors or the gravediggers.
In 2017, two judgments by the Court of Session ruled that the council’s payment protection scheme and its review of labor wages and benefits discriminate against women workers.
The class of plaintiffs, as part of the 2019 settlement process, agreed to suspend legal proceedings with counsel to focus on replacing the discriminatory compensation process.
To pay the claims, Glasgow City Council has approved plans to sell the main sites to an independent body before re-letting them.
Plans have been put in place to re-mortgage venues such as the Armadillo, Emirates Arena, Riverside Museum and Toryglen Regional Football Center and then lease them to the council – with the cost of the lease designed to cover loan repayments .
A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: ‘Council is committed to resolving the issue of equal pay and dealing with equal pay complaints.
“We reached an agreement to settle a significant number of claims in 2019 – and it was agreed by all parties at that time that we would then seek to settle new claims covering the same period.
“While these claims were not explicitly covered by the 2019 agreement, the council made it clear in discussions with representative claimants that its proposed approach remains absolutely rooted in that agreement. To be clear, the council is ready to make offers to settle the new claims based on the 2019 agreement.
“The council has also always been committed to reviewing options for the gap period, once an approach for new claims is agreed.”