A typical query has been: "How do I raise these issues with my own MSP or local councillor?"
Well, that's very easy to answer. MSPs and local councillors both hold regular surgeries - often on the same day of the month - where local constituents can go along and raise issues, in person, at a private meeting.
MSPs and councillors are normally happy to meet with people in small groups and this would be an ideal way of getting across the message on equal pay - a list of useful questions has already been posted on this site.
Not surprisingly, in the run-up to the elections, politicians are much more interested in what people have to say - after all they're desperate for your votes. And, of course, the press and media are more likely to report what's being said - by the politicians and the electorate alike.
A letter to your local paper is a good way to get your point across and will help generate interest. You might even go along to one of the public meetings ('hustings') where the politicians debate the issues of the day and are required to answer questions - in front of a local audience.
The press and media will be quick to highlight issues that build up a head of steam - especially if they could influence the outcome of the election in a particular area.
A rather intruiging idea is that Action 4 Equality should consider standing 'Equal Pay' candidates in key target areas for the council and Scottish Parliament elections.
For example, in Glasgow, the obvious choice would be to stand someone in the Glasgow Cathcart seat of former Council Leader - Charlie Gordon - as he was in office throughout the period when the employers and the unions deliberately ignored their obligations to deliver equal pay for women workers.
Another possibility would be to stand a candidate in the Glasgow Blairdardie seat of the present Council Leader, Steven Purcell who has presided over the Council's recent Pay and Benefits review - which protects the much higher earnings of the men, yet still allows widespread pay discrimination to take place. So, thousands of women workers continue to lose out.
Interestingly, both Charlie Gordon and Steven Purcell are members of the GMB union - a key council union along with the TGWU and Unison. Now you'd think the GMB would get stuck into the council for its terrible track record on equal pay by:
- Campaigning hard and lobbying the politicians
- Educating their members and creating a storm in the press and media
- Explaining - instead of concealing - the size of the pay gap for women workers
- Asking publicly why union members should support politicians who have let them down so badly over equal pay?
But instead, the GMB (along with the other unions) are far happier cosying up to the politicians, playing the game, ducking the awkward questions - and ultimately betraying their own members.
Both Charlie Gordon and Steven Purcell are easy to contact by e-mail:
Charlie Gordon can be reached at:
Steven Purcell can be reached at:
Standing candidates in the Scottish Parliament and local elections seems rather far-fetched and a bit unlikely at this stage, but who knows? Single issue candidates have done remarkably well in recent years and sometimes - just sometimes - things can catch fire if the right issue comes along at the right time.
If there are a a few willing volunteers and some people to lend a hand, equal pay is the kind of issue that could take off and force the politicians to sit up, take notice and think twice about behaving in such a cavalier fashion in future.
Most of the Labour politicians are union members and rely heavily on union support, they wear their political hearts on their sleeves and regard themselves as left wing and very progressive. So, if you are a union member, campaigning inside your own trade union is important as well.
To be fair, the Labour politicians are not the only ones in the frame - they may control the big councils (Glasgow, Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and Fife), but the SNP (in Falkirk and Angus councils) and the Liberal Democrats (in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils) are culpable as well.
But whatever the party they have no answers on equal pay and cannot explain why they have all been prepared to turn a blind eye to something that has been staring them in the face for all these years.
Standing equal pay candidates in the elections is a long-shot at this stage - but just raising the possibility will hold the politicians to account. For example, we have already made contact with the Scottish Pensioners Party about exposing the scandalous way retired women workers have been treated - allowed to retire without any knowledge of their rights to equal pay and now living on much lower pensions than their male counterparts.
So, getting involved does make a difference and will change things for the better. Let's hear your ideas for turning the political heat up between now and 3rd May!