Friday, 18 January 2019
The Times hit the nail on the head with this leading article which concludes that Glasgow's claimants have made history by standing up for their right to equal pay.
Women’s persistence in challenging a council for equal pay has been rewarded
The agreement by Glasgow city council to recognise the equal pay rights of its women employees can rightly be called historic. It has taken protest marches, long negotiations, and persistence to get to this point. The opposition has come not just from the council, which faced a bill that could be as high as £600 million, but the trade unions, which, initially at any rate, were unenthusiastic about the women’s cause.
Far from supporting it as a bid for equality, they regarded it as a potential threat to the employment of the majority of their members: men. In the end, however, they were won over. As Stefan Cross, the London QC who represented the protesters, said last year: “The bottom line is that it has all been driven by the women. They are the ones that have backed us, to the point where the trade unions have accepted that we lead the fight with the backing of the women.”
Now the council has recognised the basic principle: if a woman is doing a job that is of equal importance to the city as that of her male counterpart, then she should be paid the same amount. Susan Aitken, the SNP administration and council leader, must be credited for righting this wrong, succeeding where previous Labour-run councils failed. The hard bit, of course, has been assessing how to measure one job against another. Time was when bus drivers or maintenance workers — mainly male — were judged to be part of the essential infrastructure of the city, and therefore merited higher pay than women. In the male-dominated west of Scotland, it was perhaps that little bit more difficult to challenge the idea. Today care workers, cleaners and home visitors are seen as equally essential.
Their victory is in a great Glasgow tradition. Mary Barbour, heroine of the 1915 rent strikes, would be proud of her successors.