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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


North of the Border

by New Worker correspondent

THE LONG-RUNNING local government equal pay dispute in Glasgow that was supposed to be settled with a £500 million deal in 2019 is likely to result in strike action. Two of the three unions involved, GMB and Unison, have voted for strike action to prevent backsliding by the SNP council whose election in 2017 was partly secured by promising to resolve the issue. The third union, Unite, is currently in the process of balloting. Most recently, 52.5 per cent of Unison members voted by 96 per cent for further strike action.

The 2019 deal settled pay claims up to March 2018 and included a new pay and grading system to rectify issues of unequal pay which mostly benefited women. Some 5,500 new claims have been submitted for the pre-March 2018 period, whilst there are 20,000 claimants waiting on settlements for the period after that.

Regional Organiser Mandy McDowall said: “While we welcome the council’s signals, this isn’t enough progress to resolve the dispute. The talks need to be more constructive, with no conditions and based on applying the 2019 deal to all valid claims, and members simply cannot wait until 2024 for the claims to be paid out. Especially in the context of the cost-of-living crisis, members need and absolutely deserve an interim measure.”

The union’s General Secretary, Christina McAnea, said: “Women in Glasgow City Council have had promise after promise on equal pay and this saga has been going on for decades. Making women wait for many more years is not acceptable.”

Unite have also accused the City Council of reneging on previous commitments. It condemns the “unnecessary delays” for around the 18,000 claimants.

Unite’s industrial officer Wendy Dunsmore complained that: “Thousands of claimants are being told that they may have to wait several years before they get their settlements. Many of these workers don’t have the time to wait months and years for their money. There is a cost-of-living crisis with inflation soaring. Choices are literally being made every day by families over the cost of fuel, energy and living.”

The General Secretary of GMB expressed the less than helpful idea of the city’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery selling off its star exhibit, Salvador Dali’s painting of St John of the Cross, for £60 million.