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Girls & Women

Here's Why Thousands of Women in Glasgow Are Going on Strike


Why Global Citizens Should Care
A world free of inequalities is one of the ambitions of the UN's Global Goals, which call for reduced inequalities regardless of gender, sexuality, age, disability, religion, ethnicity, or any other status. Without true equality, we are all being held back. You can join us by taking action here to stand up for equal rights. 

More than 8,000 female council workers are gearing up to bring Glasgow to a standstill in October, over pay discrimination that is said to have gone on for well over a decade. 

The strike action, planned for Oct. 23 and 24, is believed to be the biggest strike over equal pay in Britain. (Although that has been disputed on Twitter, with some citing a 1943 Glasgow-based munitions workers strike.)

The workers planning to go on protest predominantly work in care, education, cleaning, and catering services. Most are reportedly over 45, and have been doing their jobs for 20 years. 

Take action: Tell the UK Government: Help Create a World Where #SheIsEqual

“We’re patient women doing the jobs we do — but it’s not just about getting back the money that’s been stolen from us, it’s about feeling downtrodden from overwork and understaffing,” Shona Thomson, GMB branch secretary, told Vice

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“We do physically demanding jobs and our bones are getting old,” she said. “For years we didn't say anything because we were scared for our jobs and we didn’t know our worth. Now we’re saying enough is enough.” 

“We’re not seen by the city but we keep the cogs turning, working behind the scenes,” she added, quoted in the Guardian. “I love my job but I’ve come to realise that I’m a strong woman who can speak out and say, ‘this isn’t right.'" 

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The women say that they have been underpaid by at least £500 million over the course of the years — but now is the time to bring their trouble out into the light.

The strike is being organised by two trade unions, GMB and Unison, who represent the council workers. They say that a breakdown in negotiations has left the women with no choice but to strike. 

But Glasgow City Council reportedly says there is no justification for the strike, and that it is “making every effort to negotiate with trade unions to avoid a strike or, if that is not possible, minimise its impact on vulnerable people.”

The dispute reportedly goes back to 2006, when a Job Evaluation Scheme was introduced in the city. The idea of the scheme to make sure that women and men would get paid equally for jobs of the same value. 

But instead, workers in female-dominated jobs like catering and care were still being paid less than workers in male-dominated areas, like gardening and refuse collection. 

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

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Meanwhile, the system also reportedly favoured men because it included a three-year payment protection for men who had missed out on bonuses at work. 

Many have been speaking out on Twitter in support of the strike action. 

“Solidarity to these great women,” said one Twitter user. Another, Guardian columnist Rhiannon Cosslett, added: “Hurrah for the women of Glasgow! Fights like this are as important as #MeToo and these women deserve our support just as much.” 

“Solidarity with all the great ladies demanding equal pay!” added another. “It shouldn’t even be an issue in the 21st century, sadly it is all too real and common.”