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by Margaret Taylor
05 April 2024
First Minister asked to intervene as trio of councils hit by equal-pay strikes

GMB workers are to strike over equal pay in three Scottish council areas | Alamy

First Minister asked to intervene as trio of councils hit by equal-pay strikes

GMB Scotland general secretary Louise Gilmour has asked First Minister Humza Yousaf to help set up an independent body to deal with equal-pay claims as staff prepare to walk out across three local authority areas.

Home care workers in Falkirk are beginning four days of action in a dispute over levels of pay between male and female employees, with their counterparts in West Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire planning to take similar action next week.  

All councils have been hit with equal-pay claims over the past decade after historically paying less for roles that are typically done by women, such as cleaning and caring, than they did for roles dominated by men, such as operating bin lorries.

In 2022 Glasgow City Council agreed to pay £770m to settle its long-running dispute with 19,000 current and former staff members, with the authority selling landmark buildings including Kelvingrove Museum and Art Galleries and the City Chambers to fund the payment.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Gilmour said she had written to the first minister, who has been campaigning in the highlands and islands this week, urging him to support the creation of a nationwide body to oversee claims because councils are "approaching equal pay claims like the Titanic approaching the iceberg".

"The scale of these claims are unimaginable for local authorities already being forced to cut services," she said.

"Women who have been underpaid for far too long will still win these claims, however, and, unless that process is properly managed now, the impact on our councils and the communities they serve could be disastrous."

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said the authority was "committed to upholding equal pay" adding that it "continues to engage with GMB colleagues to resolve this matter and minimise disruption for those in need of our care and support at home services”.

 

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