Friday, 18 January 2019

What the Papers Say - 'Greatest Day'

The Times gets a special mention in What the Papers Say for mentioning my 'Greatest Day' blog post.

Women victorious in equal pay battle against Glasgow council

By Mike Wade - The Times
The Glasgow women workers have been fighting for equal pay for more than a decade. They staged a two-day strike last year - GETTY IMAGES

Thousands of women workers will receive payouts of about £35,000 by the end of the year after campaigners for equal pay finally reached a settlement with Scotland’s largest council.

The deal, announced by the Action 4 Equality group and Glasgow city council, should bring to an end a bitter dispute that has lasted more than a decade and which led to a two-day strike across the city last autumn.

It has been claimed that the total settlement will cost Glasgow city council £500 million.

Stefan Cross, QC, the lawyer who represents the women, said that he was thrilled by the outcome of “real and constructive negotiation”, but conceded that neither side had achieved everything it wanted. “Both [sides] can be satisfied that this is a fair deal,” Mr Cross added.

It is believed that 14,000 claims have been lodged with the council.

The Action 4 Equality website celebrated by posting a video of the Take That song Greatest Day.

Susan Aitken, the council leader, said that a “historic injustice” had been put right, after 12 months of hard negotiation. The local authority still has to complete the process of fundraising to meet the costs of the settlement.

The women involved include nursery workers, school cleaners and dinner ladies, as well as thousands of home care workers, who are directly responsible for delivering one of the Scottish government’s key policies, free care for the elderly.

Along with a handful of men on the same low pay grades, they were outraged that men working as grave-diggers, gardeners and refuse collectors went home with larger pay packets.

Mr Cross acknowledged that the deal was a huge step forward but added: “This is not the end of the road. We still have to complete a job evaluation study, unions need to agree a new pay structure, and we will need to have further negotiations in 2021.”

The council confirmed an agreement in principle for a package of payments after talks with Action 4 Equality, and the Unison, GMB and United unions.

Ms Aitken said: “We were clear that this was always likely to take at least a year and the sheer volume of cases involved and the complexity of the council’s pay and grading arrangements were such that this was never going to be easy.

“I have never needed to be convinced of the case for equality. After a decade of obstruction and inaction, in a relatively short space of time we have now reached agreement which delivers the pay justice these women long have fought for.”

Officials said that the announcement of a deal did not represent the end of the process and a number of steps were required before payments could be made. The claimants and the council have to approve the deal, and arrangements drawn up for how and when the money will be paid. In practice, the payments will be made within the next financial year, before the end of December.

A council spokesman said: “Once the settlements have been processed both sides are committed to completing the new job evaluation study and devising a fair and lawful remuneration package that fairly and properly remunerates the work done by Glasgow’s wonderful dedicated workforce. No further litigation will take place whilst that task is being completed.”