Scottish council staff hail victory in landmark equal pay ruling

Union members and campaigners in Scotland have won a second victory in an equal pay dispute against Glasgow City Council.

Earlier this year, the Court of Session gave female workers at the authority permission to go ahead with action to demand equal pay from their employer.

And now, the Court has ruled Glasgow council failed to show that its job evaluation scheme “is thorough in its analysis, objective, transparent, accurate, internally sound and consistent, sufficiently detailed and fair, and did not follow the advice of the Equal Opportunities Commission, or comply with Equal Pay Act 1970, now subsumed into the Equality Act 2010”.

This will open the door to 6,000 claimants to push ahead with getting equal pay, with some of the claimants’ problems with this issue dating back all the way to 2006.

Campaign group Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) has said that the case could cost the council around £250m in making up for lost wages after it refused to face up to its equal pay obligations for almost 12 years.

“We have been saying for years that the city council could not justify paying highly-skilled, hard-working staff like home carers so much less than gardeners, gravediggers and refuse workers,” sad QC of A4ES, Stefan Cross.

“The A4ES legal team did a fantastic job in the Court of Session and our determination has been vindicated in the end. Once again we urge Glasgow City Council to get around the table to resolve these issues once and for all.”

Mike Kirby, the Scottish secretary of Unison, which represents the interest of 1,400 of the claimants, added that the ruling was great news for thousands of low-paid women workers.

“The way Glasgow rates and pays workers has been the source of conflict and division for 10 years. These women have already waited long enough to receive the pay they have worked hard for and deserve,” he commented.

“It’s time for Glasgow City Council to do the right thing and pay up on equal pay. We call on the new administration in the council to work with us to resolve the issues surrounding fair pay in Glasgow.”

But the local authority’s leader, Susan Aitken, argued the case was a complex ruling on a complex matter, and that it is right that the council take some time to consider the immediate impact and wider ramifications of this dispute.

“Council officers will require time to consider all the implications of this ruling, but I have instructed them to continue to speak to the trade unions about the application of the pay and grading scheme,” she added.

“The city government was elected on a commitment to improve industrial relations in Glasgow City Council, including resolving inherited outstanding equal pay cases. Today’s ruling has not changed that position.”

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