Socialist Worker

Scottish councils’ equal pay delay shame

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2572

Workers protested outside Glasgow council last week

Workers protested outside Glasgow council last week (Pic: Glasgow City Unison )


Some 250 workers lobbied Glasgow City Council on Thursday of last week demanding they comply with equal pay legislation.

Glasgow council has over 11,000 Single Status Agreement (SSA) claims currently unresolved.

These arrangements are designed to remove historical discrimination which mean women earn less money.

Workers on low pay at the council have been fighting for 12 years to receive the pay they are entitled to.

The lobby took place after a damning new report released last week reveals Scottish councils are not complying with the SSA.

The report, by public spending watchdog the Accounts Commission, examines how the 32 councils have responded to the SSA agreements since 1999.

It shows how Scottish councils have taken 11 years to implement SSA.

The Unison union won a legal battle against Glasgow council last month. Now the council may face a bill of up to £500 million.

Unison represents 6,000 of these workers and is currently in a legal fight to force the council to pay up.

A Unison member at Glasgow City Council told Socialist Worker, “We’ve been fighting this for a decade.

As the years have gone on, people have died or moved job—and some don’t know they’re entitled to lots of money.”

He added, “Glasgow council needs a proper fair system of wages, they will have to show it’s not about levelling people down, it’s about levelling people up.”

Scandal 

The scandal of unequal pay was partly because work that was seen as “women’s work” tended to be on a lower pay grade than occupations that were traditionally done by men.

The downgrading of this work is a significant factor in the gender pay gap.

But councils have been slow to act on pay claims—there are almost 27,000 pending or unresolved equal pay claims in Scotland.

SSA was designed to unify pay grades across councils.

It was an improvement on employment law because it considered how different jobs were similar in terms of skills, effort and decision-making.

Many workers received “compensation agreements” for their historically low pay.

The cost of compensation agreements and settling claims, along with legal fees, amounts to around £750 million.

Nine out of ten these claims are from women. Councils tried to use SSA as an excuse to pay male workers less and for other cut backs.

Instead of cutting men’s pay, councils should increase women’s pay to match men’s.

But the Accounts Commission report says, “There is limited evidence to demonstrate that they fully costed this option.

“Ultimately the measures councils adopted kept men’s salaries higher than women performing equal roles.”

Glasgow Equal Pay Protest—Pay Up Now! Thursday 21 September 12:30pm, George Square G2 1DU. Called by Unison Glasgow City branch

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.