Glasgow & West Scotland

Women win Glasgow City Council equal pay fight

Image caption Many of the claimants work in catering, cleaning or caring

Thousands of women working at Scotland's largest local authority have secured an equal pay victory in court.

The Court of Session has ruled that women at Glasgow City council have been excluded from bonuses for years.

About 6,000 female workers at the council are understood to be affected, with many claims dating back to 2006.

Council leader Susan Aitken said the right thing for the authority to do now would be to have "open discussions" with the affected workers.

The court said the council had discriminated against women through the introduction of payment protections which upheld male colleagues' earnings.

The protection was introduced following the initial wave of equal pay awards.

Glasgow City Council had appealed against a ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in March 2016 that it had continued to discriminate against women through the introduction of payment protections for male employees.

But the Court of Session rejected the appeal.

'Stifling austerity'

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: "After years of legal wrangling by Glasgow City Council, this morning's judgment paves the way for thousands of low-paid women to claim justice.

"Times have been tough for these women who have had to endure this discrimination against a decade of real terms wage cuts across Scottish local government as a result of stifling austerity."

Mr Smith called on the council's new SNP-led administration to resolve the claims.

Most of those claiming are carers, caterers and cleaners and are among the lowest-paid council employees, unions say.

The court has also been asked to consider whether the current council pay system is a valid pay scheme.

Mike Kirby, Scottish secretary for the Unison union, said: "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. It's time for Glasgow City Council to do the right thing and pay up on equal pay."

'Complex ruling'

A spokesman for the council said it had implemented a new pay and benefits structure designed to ensure equal pay more than 10 years ago.

"The matter before the court on this occasion related to the initial implementation of that scheme - and, more specifically, the decision to offer a three-year period of payment protection as a 'soft landing' for members of the workforce facing a drop in earnings," he said.

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council added: "This is a complex legal ruling. However, it is now clear that the award of pay protection was done in a way which discriminated against some of our female workers at that time.

"The right thing to do now is for the council to have open discussions with those workers and their representatives about how we give effect to this ruling. I hope there will be goodwill on both sides during those discussions."

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