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Glasgow’s equal pay clash will cost the city ‘hundreds of millions’

Resolving the equal pay dispute at Glasgow City Council will cost the city “hundreds of millions of pounds,” the council’s SNP leader has admitted.

Susan Aitken has warned that “justice comes with a price,” that the “massive cost” would be difficult for the council, and that there would be no government bail-out.

A widely-supported strike against the unequal pay for women saw 8,000 Glasgow council workers take to the streets, shutting down schools and home care services on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.

They walked out in protest at a “lack of progress” around the equal pay claims for thousands of female workers, with the city council saying it was already exploring options to resolve the dispute.

Whilst the total cost for the claimants is yet to be finalised, there are fears that the bill could reach £500m, according to BBC sources.

A report by Scotland’s spending watchdog the Accounts Commission highlighted back in August a £129m funding gap facing Scotland’s largest local authority over the next three years.

According to Aitken in a statement for the SNP, the council is now looking at reinforcing its existing debt, borrowing on the market and a limited sale of assets.

The council leader said that she believes the Scottish government does not have the resources to deal with the problem, and didn’t believe that taxpayers across Scotland should “pay the price for an issue that is entirely of Glasgow City Council’s making.”

Aitken blamed the Labour administration for the decision and adherence to a discriminatory pay scheme which “simply created new and complex pay structures which favoured predominately male roles.”

Back in 2006, unequal pay arrangements at the council meant workers in female-dominated roles such as catering and cleaning were paid up to £3 an hour less than men in similar roles.

In June, the council agreed to abandon the Workforce Pay and Benefit Review, and in October it agreed to replace it with the same scheme used by most other Scottish councils.

Aitken said: “I will never fail to be shocked at the lack of work done by previous administrations to establish a range or scope or a financial envelope for any potential settlement.

“Labour never sought to learn from the experience of other local authorities – many of which they also led.”

 Image credit -  Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

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