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Girls & Women

Glasgow Women Win £500M Payout After 12-Year Battle for Equal Pay


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The gender pay gap is still a reality for women across the UK and across the world. And it’s only by speaking out about it and fighting for equality that we can solve the problem. As proven by these women in Glasgow, it can be an uphill battle — but it’s worth it! Join the movement by taking action here in support of gender equality. 

On October 23 and 24, more than 8,000 women workers walked out of nurseries and schools, cleaning and catering services in what is believed to have been the UK’s biggest ever equal pay strike. 

They were protesting historic discriminatory pay by Glasgow city council that dated back to a 2006 pay protection scheme, which was offered to male-dominated professions — but not to the vast majority of female workers.

But now a ruling at the Court of Sessions has ordered Glasgow council to pay a bill of £500 million to around 12,500 claimants.

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“Since the strike there has been real and constructive negotiations,” Stefan Cross, a lawyer from Action4Equality, which represents 8,000 of the claimants, told the Guardian.

“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,” he added. 

“Once the settlements have been processed, both sides are committed to devising a lawful remuneration package that fairly and properly remunerates the work done by Glasgow’s wonderful dedicated workforce,” he said.

The dispute dates back to 2006 when a job evaluation survey sought to end the gender pay gap — instead of ending it however, a pay protection plan was put in place for male-dominated professions, such as gardening and refuse collection.

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Even though jobs in the male- and female-dominated professions had the same status on paper, those in the male-dominated professions could still be paid more because they were less likely to have split shifts or inconsistent hours, according to Vice

Complex policies also gave workers working more than 37 hours higher pay, but this was not offered to those working 35 hours or less — predominantly women. 

“We wanted to come out in support of the women,” a striking binman told Channel 4 News back in October, after he and his colleagues joined protesters in solidarity. “Because it’s their job, and it could be someone’s wife, someone’s sister, daughter."

During the strike action, Scottish National Party leader Susan Aitken said: “I don’t believe that the women are fully aware of the progress that has been made and that is ongoing."

“I think that what hasn’t been made clear to them by their trade unions is that they are getting it anyway — the strike is unnecessary,” she added.

However, Aitken told the Guardian on Thursday she was “delighted” the £500 million offer had been agreed, and that her commitment to resolving the issue had “never waivered.”

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

Aitken expressed concerns that the bill would leave the council with “difficult decisions” as it seeks to meet the bill.

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She said that frontline services would not be cut to help raise the funds, and there were suggestions the council would ask the Scottish government for a bailout — although that has reportedly been rejected.

Another idea that was floated was for the council to sell its St John of the Cross painting by Salvador Dali, which is valued in the tens of millions of pounds. 

Aitken said, however, when discussing options for paying the bill in September: “We are certainly not discussing flogging off the Dali.” 

Another option includes remortgaging properties — potentially including the Royal Concert Hall, and the Riverside Museum — to help foot the bill, according to the Express