Thousands of Glasgow women march for equal pay

Council workers in Glasgow staged one of the UK's biggest strikes over equal pay.' Photo: John Devlin.
Council workers in Glasgow staged one of the UK's biggest strikes over equal pay.' Photo: John Devlin.

Thousands of Glasgow’s women took to the streets yesterday (Tuesday) to demand Glasgow City Council resolve the long-standing pay injustice.

Home carers, cleaners, caterers, school workers and other council staff marched together to George Square to demand equal pay. This is the first day of a 48-hour strike and is the largest of its kind since the Equal Pay Act was introduced.

UNISON regional organiser Mandy McDowall said: “These women have faced more than ten years of discrimination and delay and to see thousands taking to the streets today to fight for equal pay shows the strength of feeling among Glasgow’s women.

“The reason behind the strike is not to convince Glasgow City Council of the need for equality – we’ve already won the legal case. But in the last ten months, since the council made the commitment to settle the equal pay dispute and deliver on pay equality, the council has offered only meetings about meetings, talks about talks, missed deadlines and no counter proposals.

“The women of Glasgow sent a loud and powerful message to Glasgow City Council – the time for talking is over and now we demand action.”

UNISON branch chair Mary Dawson said: “These women are the cogs that keep our city turning - cleaning, caring, educating and looking after some of the city’s most vulnerable people – and they have not taken the decision to strike lightly. Yet despite the vital services they provide, their roles are still chronically undervalued. It’s time Glasgow City Council took action to resolve this long-standing injustice so these women can continue to provide the services we all rely upon.”

Speaking at the rally, UNISON’s assistant general secretary Christina McAnea, said: “Today our whole union stands with Glasgow. Together we have taken the fight to the courts and to the streets. Councillors have come and gone but our demands for equal pay have remained the same. The dedication to the cause of UNISON members has been incredible, and it’s been matched by the incredible strength shown by those taking action today.”

GMB is now calling for GCC Chief Executive Annemarie O’Donnell to instruct her officials to return to negotiations this Thursday morning and lead the council’s representations personally.

Speaking yesterday, GMB Scotland Organiser Rhea Wolfson said: “Today, the working class women of Glasgow sent out a message to their employer: “Are you listening to us now?”

“The council chief executive only needed to look out of her window in the city chambers to realise the inevitable; her officials have to re-engage in negotiations with the women’s’ representatives.

“The turnout and togetherness of our women, along with the solidarity of their council colleagues and ordinary Glaswegians, was emotional and inspirational and will ultimately prove historic.

“Our women know their value. They are strong and resolute, buoyed by the widespread support from this city which is evident for all to see. “It’s time for justice and come Thursday morning, we expect this council to wake up out of its complacency and get back round the negotiating table with the joint claimant organisations.”

The strike will continue today (Wednesday) with pickets throughout Glasgow.