Since monday evening a huge number of Glasgow City Council workers have downed tools, either going on strike or refusing to cross picket lines. We in the Scottish Green Party support, as we have always done, their continued fight for equal pay.
The scheduled two-day industrial action has caused sizeable disruption and shows both how seldom homecare workers, cleaners, learning support workers and others go on strike and also how important their work is to our city.
On Saturday at the Scottish Green Party conference I was very pleased to have an emergency motion on the strike unanimously backed by delegates. The motion (full text below) outlined our support for all female workers fighting for equal pay, criticised recent comments by the council’s political leadership as unhelpful and urged everyone to get back around the table to progress with talks.
This, of course, is not to seek to compare the actions around equal pay by the current SNP administration in Glasgow, with the previous Labour regime, as there is simply no comparison. I can count on one hand the number of Glasgow Labour councillors, past or present, I have heard apologise for the ten year plus denial of equal pay.
Since taking office in May 2017, the SNP administration, with Green support, has taken very welcomed steps in pursuit of equal pay: halted legal challenges; scraped the pay and grading scheme which workers had lost faith in; and worked alongside unions and Action4Equality to identify a new system.
However, this is being overshadowed by the current negotiation process stalling. When the idea of a strike was first proposed, the political leadership responded by questioning if the workforce knew what they were striking about.
Of course they do. They are doing some of the most important jobs in our society and have been, and continue to be, chronically undervalued and underpaid in the process.
You might not agree with a particular strike but you cannot question the right to strike. A continuation of this provocative stance will only serve to sour relations further with the unions and the workforce and will add yet more months on to the huge wait thousands of female staff have already had to endure.
Just as the Scottish Greens were vocal on equal pay during Labour’s years, not least former Bailie Nina Baker and current councillor Martha Wardrop, we will continue to be so until this is resolved fairly.
Emergency Motion on Equal Pay
Conference recognises that underpaid women workers across Glasgow are preparing for an unprecedented 48 hours of industrial action in pursuit of equal pay, starting at midnight on Monday night.
Conference recognises the hard work, dedication and professionalism of these workers in home care, schools and nurseries, catering and cleaning; demanding roles which remain chronically undervalued.
Conference supports these workers; believes that comments from the leader of Glasgow City Council have been deeply unhelpful in placing blame on the unions and questioning the motives of the workforce; and urges Glasgow City Council to return immediately to the negotiating table, without preconditions, to urgently resolve this longstanding injustice.