Sunday, October 28, 2018

Demonstrators hold placards as they march for equal pay for Glasgow council worker CREDIT: JEFF J MITCHELL/GETTY IMAGES EUROPE

Telegraph Reporters23 OCTOBER 2018 • 

Hundreds of primary schools and nurseries across Glasgow were forced to close on Tuesday as female council workers staged a 48-hour strike - believed to be the biggest of its kind.

The industrial action, which is set to continue on Wednesday, by more than 8,500 mainly female members of the GMB and Unison unions, also disrupted home care services and 50 additional learning support centres.

It is part of dispute over equal pay at Glasgow City Council, which has seen thousands of female workers are proceeding with claims against the council following a Court of Session ruling last year.

Hundreds of male council workers in other services also refused to cross pickets lines on Tuesday, union officials said

The council said the strike was unnecessary and it hopes to reach a settlement in the coming months and start paying out in the next financial year.

Glasgow City Council said 137 primary schools and 112 nurseries had closed on Tuesday, the majority of those serving the city, though all mainstream secondary schools will remain open.

Home care services for around 6,000 people are affected by the industrial action.

Workers on the picket line at The Mitchell Library hope the strike will put pressure on the council to speed up the negotiation process.

Anna Murray is a cleaning supervisor at the library and has worked there for 25 years.

She said: "We've waited 10 years for equal pay and the council doesn't seem to be doing anything to pay it so we've gone out on strike in support of getting our equal pay paid. I just feel that we're very underpaid for the work that we do.

"We hope that the council speed things up and gets equal pay for the people that are waiting for it."

Schools and home-care services were disrupted as an estimated 8,000 workers joined a 48-hour walkout, aimed at spurring the settlement of equal-pay claims from thousands of female workersCREDIT: JEFF J MITCHELL/GETTY IMAGES EUROPE

Annette Tompson is also cleaning supervisor at The Mitchell, where she has worked for 17 years.

She said: "It has been taking a long long time, we've been to the employment tribunal, to the court, to the Court of Session and they have found in our favour and and the council are still not paying us.

"They know we are due the money but it is really dragging on."

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken told BBC Radio Scotland: "The strike will have a devastating impact and there's no need for it.

"They won their case the day that the SNP was elected to lead Glasgow City Council and we have been working ever since then to deliver them justice.

"We are extremely close to it and I am confident that they will get the settlement that they are entitled to and we will start paying out in the next financial year."

The local authority introduced its Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) and grading scheme in 2006 to tackle inequalities.

Some female workers say the way it is structured led to people in female-dominated roles are being paid up to £3 an hour less than people in male-dominated roles.

Some women are said to have been paid up to £4,000 a year less than male counterparts.

The council said the way union leaders have approached the strike has been "hugely disappointing".

A spokesman said: "There has been absolutely no meaningful effort from the unions to work with us and their membership to ensure that life and limb cover will be in place."

Glasgow City Council sent letters to those affected informing them their care will be withdrawn for two days during the strike.

The GMB said unions have agreed to all council requests to support the life and limb cover plan, adding the offer from union members to work through the strike to support vulnerable home care users still stands.

GMB Scotland organiser Rhea Wolfson said: "The council's officers have been incapable of putting in place the most basic cover despite having three weeks to prepare and the offers we have made every single day to resolve the dispute.

"Our members work for some of the most vulnerable elderly and disabled people in our community and we would never do anything that could cause them harm."


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