Glasgow Unison 2018 strike photo Public Services International/CC
Glasgow Unison 2018 strike photo Public Services International/CC

Socialist Party Scotland statement

Working-class women in Glasgow have once again defeated the SNP-led council over equal pay. Faced with a 48-hour strike on 29 and 30 March by 12,000 low-paid workers, the council leadership has climbed down.

The strike would have closed all primary schools and nurseries. Homecare, cleaning, catering, residential homes, homelessness hostels, addiction services and admin functions would have been hugely impacted.

The SNP leadership in Glasgow had torn up the equal pay agreement that followed the successful 2018 strike. The SNP hoped to divide the workers into the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’, and thereby cut the pay bill by hundreds of millions of pounds.

Many thousands of workers who were due interim payments in compensation after years of unequal pay would, under the SNP’s plan, be excluded. £500 million was paid in compensation following the 2018 strike action. The trade unions have opened the door to hundreds of millions in further payments being made to low-paid women workers in Glasgow.

As the workers pointed out, they were paid out in 2019 because their pay was unequal – nothing has changed since then, it’s still unequal. The same jobs in the same unequal pay scheme.

Unison, GMB and Unite unions launched a joint campaign. This led to a huge ballot return –Unison and GMB members voted by over 90% in favour of strike action. 9,000 Unison members and 3,000 GMB members would have been out on strike.

Facing a united workforce, and with a council election campaign due to begin, the council has now pledged that all those entitled to payments will receive them on the exact same basis as agreed in 2019. Moreover, payments will also be made to cover 2018 to March 2022.

Unison says strike action planned for 20 and 21 April is still on the table, “because we want an implementation plan produced by the council in the coming weeks that is acceptable”. If that “is not forthcoming then we will not hesitate to implement the strike mandate.”

Socialist Party Scotland members are part of the leadership of Glasgow City Unison, and have played an important role in the dispute. As the Glasgow City Unison statement makes clear: “This important concession has been won for one reason and one reason only – the willingness of trade union members to take strike action.”

The outcome proves once more that militant industrial action is essential to defeat cuts-making councillors and the bosses.

Socialist Party Scotland and the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) will be taking those lessons out to working-class communities in Glasgow as part of the upcoming election campaign.