Tuesday, 11 February 2020

'Get Behind Glasgow in 2020'

I've been thinking long and hard about the need for a big, popular campaign in 2020 aimed at restoring national pay bargaining for Scotland's local government workers.

Why is such a campaign needed?

Because Scotland's lowest paid council workers - carers, cleaners, catering staff, clerical workers, classroom assistants etc - have been treated as second class citizens for the past 20 years.

The fight for equal pay in Scotland's councils

In 1999 low paid council workers, in predominantly female jobs, were promised a new deal and new 'Single Status' pay arrangements based on the principle of 'equal pay for work of equal value'.

What happened next?

Council employers reneged on their promises and in 2017 Scotland's public spending watchdog, the Accounts Commission, issued a damning report which concluded that this landmark pay deal  represented a decade of failure on the part of of both central and local government.

By contrast Scotland's school teachers received their own landmark McCrone pay deal in 2000 which was fully funded to the tune of £800 million a year - or £16.8 billion by 2020.

Why focus on Glasgow?

Glasgow City Council's 'new' Single Status pay arrangements in 2007 were condemned as 'unfit for purpose by the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, in 2017 after a long, costly battle in and out of the courts.

Scotland's largest council is now replacing its discriminatory WPBR pay arrangements in 2021 with a new Scottish Joint Council (Gauge) job evaluation (JE) scheme which was developed with public funds and recommended for use by all Scottish councils in 1999.

Glasgow's trade unions are fully involved in this process and are calling for the new pay arrangements in Glasgow to become a role model and set a new standard for all 32 Scottish councils.

Why is national leadership and national bargaining so important? 

Because it protects workers rights and prevents exploitation:
  • School teachers in Glasgow are paid the same as school teachers in Grangemouth and Galashiels.
  • MSPs in Glasgow are paid the same as MSPs in Grangemouth and Galashiels
  • MPs in Glasgow are paid the same as MPs in Grangemouth and Galashiels
  • Elected councillors in Glasgow are paid the same as elected councillors in Grangemouth and Galashiels  
So why should low paid council workers in Scotland - carers, cleaners, catering staff, clerical workers, classroom assistants - be treated any differently?

Get Behind Glasgow in 2020!

A high profile, public campaign to restore national bargaining needs to be led by the trade unions, but there is good reason to put this demand at the heart of  the ongoing campaign to deliver 'equal pay for work of equal value' in Glasgow - and in all Scottish councils.