Monday, 28 January 2019

Take A Bow, Glasgow!



The Sunday Mail carried a opinion piece on the fight for equal pay in Glasgow and the headline speaks for itself.

  

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/glasgow-equal-pay-campaigners-stand-13913306

Glasgow Equal Pay Campaigners… stand up and take a bow

Our columnist thanks carers, lollipop ladies, cleaners and everyone else who protested for making Scotland a fairer place to live.

By Lesley Roberts - Sunday Mail


Little Lorrie Milne outside Glasgow Council's city chambers for a rally by GMB and Unison members(Image: PA)

The euphoria has begun to settle for the female staff who won a historic equal pay claim against Glasgow City Council .

They’re nervous now and who can blame any one of them who won’t believe it till they have the cash in their hands?

But the stories of what this victory means are beginning to emerge.

Thousands of council employees took strike action for equal pay (Image: Getty Images)

I know there is a pensioner in Glasgow, a retired carer, who was facing eviction until last week when she was informed that the city council had finally agreed, in principle, to settle historic pay claims.

The payment she is due, just the promise that it is coming, is enough to keep her in her own home.

Another woman, a learning support worker, feels like her life will start anew now that a deal has been reached to pay out in 14,000 cases where women were routinely paid less than their male counterparts: “For me, it means I can quit my second job that sometimes sees me working seven days a week and takes me away from my kids. It means I can resume my studies and make a better life for me and my family. It means I get my life back.”

These are the real-life consequences, both of the underpayment in the first place and, at long last, of the righting of the wrong.

Demonstrators hold placards as they attend GMB and Unison rally in George Square (Image: Getty Images)

There were many times – over 12 years – these women thought they would never win their battle. And, goodness knows, previous administrations at Glasgow City Council (let’s be honest here – they were all Labour administrations) did their best to make the fight as difficult as possible.

But win the women did. There are still a few hoops to jump through and there’s no confirmation of a payment timetable yet.

Disbelief and fear are causing stress and panic among those who are almost too afraid to believe it’s over.

But this can’t be allowed to fall at the final hurdle. And it won’t. Council leader Susan Aitken, of the SNP, deserves credit for delivering the resolution of a mess she didn’t make.

She also has the headache of finding £500million to pay out the claims.

There are plans to remortgage some properties in council ownership so there are many years of debt ahead for the authority. But it’s the council’s turn to worry about how to pay its bills.

Dinner ladies, carers, lollipop ladies, cleaners, staff like these and all the families they support, they’ve struggled by long enough, earning less than men in comparable roles. That this was ever the case, in modern, progressive, egalitarian Scotland, makes the stomach curdle.

And so many in positions of power or political influence could have spoken out and intervened over the years but were too busy pursuing their own agendas.


Lawyer Stefan Cross, of Action 4 Equality Scotland, who represented thousands of women, told me: “My hope now is that the jobs the women do will finally get the value and pay they deserve.”

And that, he says, will be an interesting challenge. So let’s not take our eye off the ball.

Of course, the real credit in all this goes to the ordinary women who took the flack and made sacrifices and refused to accept institutionalised inequality at the nation’s largest local authority.

When 8000 campaigners took to the streets in October to mount the UK’s biggest equal pay protest, critics (and there’s always some) were quick to hurl accusations of political game-playing, of union meddling.

The women were having none of that. They were part of a global movement for change. This wasn’t about politics or unions – this was about equality.

To all of them, Scotland is a fairer place because of what you did. Thank you.