“Determined and strong” – 8,000 women on strike today

Around 8,000 women in Glasgow today embark on a 48-hour strike in their fight to achieve pay justice.

The members of GMB and UNISON, employed as school staff, nursery workers, care workers, caterers and cleaners by the city council are walking out in what is the largest equal pay strike since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970. The strike will affect schools, nurseries, home care, cleaning and catering across the city.

The women will march across the city, assembling at the Saltmarket Road end of Glasgow Green at 11.30am and leaving for George Square at noon, where there will be a rally.

UNISON regional organiser Mandy McDowall said: “It is a modern-day scandal that nearly fifty years on from the equal pay act being introduced we find ourselves standing alongside thousands of women who are being discriminated against by one of the UK’s largest councils.

“These women are the lifeblood of Glasgow, they carry out vital roles across the city – cleaning, caring, educating and looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our society. They are the cogs that keep our city turning yet their roles remain chronically undervalued. Strike action isn’t a decision these women have taken lightly but after months of empty promises they have been left with no choice.

“Glasgow City Council has to get back around the negotiating table and finally put an end to this long-standing injustice.”

UNISON Glasgow chair Mary Dawson added: “We have given the council 10 months to make progress on addressing the historical discrimination suffered by these workers.

“However, the council has agreed nothing, offered nothing and all we have had are meetings about meetings and talks about talks. It’s time for some action.”

GMB Scotland Organiser Rhea Wolfson said: “The voice of Glasgow’s working women will be heard around the world.  After decades of rampant sex discrimination they will tell their employer, ‘Stop the delays. We want justice’.

“Our members will march to the doorstep of power to tell Glasgow City Council’s Chief Executive Annemarie O’Donnell and her officials that they will not be bullied or intimidated by reckless and inaccurate statements about this strike or their motivations for it.

“Our members are determined and strong, buoyed in particular by the support shown to them by service users and their families who understand the value of these women and their work.

“The truth is this council cannot deliver fair equal pay settlements without negotiating with the joint claimant organisations, a fact the Chief Executive knows full well. The council’s failure to meaningfully negotiate with us over the last year and its decision to walk away from its obligations to employees and service users alike has led us to this action.

“The council must to stop stalling and face the inevitable. Annemarie O’Donnell needs to take the responsibility her highly-paid job demands by stepping out of the ivory tower and re-engaging with reality, which means a return to meaningful negotiation with the joint claimant group.

“Our women make Glasgow and it’s time to start delivering the justice they deserve.”

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