Glasgow City Council ratifies £548m worth of payments for equal pay compensation


Glasgow City Council has ratified a package of payments worth £548 million to compensate approximately 16,000 equal pay claims.

The formal approval, agreed by the Council’s administration committee on Thursday 7 February 2019, follows on from an agreement in principle made with trade unions Unison, Unite and GMB, as well as campaign group Action 4 Equality Scotland, on Thursday 17 January 2019.

The agreement in principle was finalised after approximately 8,000 GMB and Unison members undertook industrial action in October 2018. The strike related to a pay and benefits system introduced for Glasgow City Council employees more than a decade ago, which campaigners say resulted in staff in predominantly female-led roles, such as catering or cleaning, earning up to £3 an hour less than those in male-dominated jobs, such as refuse collection.

After two judgments against the council in the Court of Session, Glasgow City Council stated in January 2018 that it planned to settle around 12,000 claims. However, trade unions felt talks had stalled, which led to the strike action last October.

Since the agreement in principle was signed last month, almost 2,000 addition equal pay claims have been lodged, taking the total number of potential claimants to around 16,000. The vast majority of these are female employees working in catering, caring and cleaning roles, however there is also a smaller number of men due to benefit from the deal, including 300 janitors.

Glasgow City Council states that affected employees will receive details of their individual entitlements over the next few months, with compensation being paid in the summer; Unison predicts these payments will be made in June 2019.

The administration committee further confirmed the financial strategy to fund the settlement, where some of the city’s property assets will be used to unlock loans.

Susan Aitken, council leader at Glasgow City Council, said: “I’m delighted to have won backing for a deal that finally delivers pay justice for thousands of women in our workforce. When I became council leader in 2017, I promised I’d bring an end [to] more than a decade of inaction on equal pay.

“A year ago, we began negotiations and [now], the council [have] formally agreed a plan to pay women at Glasgow City Council what they are owed. That starts to put right a wrong that has damaged the Council, its workforce and the city for too long.”

Unison cites that the next step is to create a new pay system, to ensure the end of discriminatory pay practices.

Mary Dawson, branch chair, Glasgow at Unison, added: “This is an important step in a long campaign for equal pay for women and men working in Glasgow City Council. The agreement will represent compensation for the pay lost due to a discriminatory pay and grading system in place for over 12 years.

“Unison pays tribute to our members’ determination to take strike action, their courage and strength which has finally paid off and strong, united campaign support by all the claimant groups which helped achieve this victory.”

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Mandy McDowall, regional organiser at Unison, said: “This agreement will bring us another step closer to equal pay and to ending this long-standing pay injustice. Glasgow’s women have been fighting for over 12 years and it’s only right they take time to reflect on what they’ve achieved and the support they’ve received from across the city and beyond.

“There is still a long way to go to removing pay inequality, but this marks a milestone in that process.”