By Carla Buscema
More than 8000 council workers are taking a 48 hours strike action next Tuesday and Wednesday in Glasgow demanding the council to give them equal pay.
Two of the major Trade Unions representing council workers, GMB and Unison, have announced that thousand of their members are taking action. The Glasgow City Council expects that this industrial movement would be likely to create a significant disruption to education, care and some other services.
The strike is related to negotiations to settle equal pay claims that were supposed to take place earlier this year, but as nothing has been agreed yet, women in Glasgow have decided to protest.
The Trade Unions have been fighting alongside women since 2007 when the Council brought up a new pay scheme, to which the Unions did not agree as they were not convinced that it would make the pay equal. A first legal action was taken in 2009 when the Unions lodged for equal pay claims on behalf of some of their members, the case went then to court but the tribunals ruled twice in favour of the employers saying that the way women were payed in Glasgow was fair.
“One of the hard things about equality pay is that sometimes it takes time to show evidences that workers are being paid right. That is because people are not doing the same job, so you have to wait to see how the pay affects different group of workers in the council and whether the pay goes down or up for large group of female workers.” says Jennifer McCarey a full time officer with Unison.
She added: “One of the reason women are protesting is that a new administration was elected last May and one of the promises they made in their election was that they would sort this, but they have not acted as quickly or as firm as they should of.”
Isabel Johnson, a council worker and home carer, said: “They are bringing the city to a meltdown, Glasgow City Council, they need to come around, sit down to a table and have emergency meetings instead of not meeting up with the Unions until we stop the strike action.”
Sandra Johnson, another council worker, added: “We were quite happy to wait and let them negotiate, but they caused this, they stopped negotiating and that is what is making women angry.”
The council shared on twitter that they are currently communicating with individuals and families affected by the strike and they are making an effort to find a solution in order to minimise the impact of the strike on vulnerable people.
Colin Mackenzie, a senior Communication officer at Glasgow City Council, said: “We understand why many of our workforce remain angry about equal pay and we are also very much aware of the depth of feeling there is behind this industrial action.
“However, the strike is unnecessary and potentially very dangerous for some of the most vulnerable people in the city.
“The council is committed to delivering equal pay and reaching a negotiated settlement on claims. There is nothing that the strike can achieve that we are not already doing and we are anxious to see everyone back around the table in good faith to move things forward.
“We have agreed everything the unions have asked for during negotiations to avert the strike.”