Irene Lang’s Speech – Strike Action

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23rd October 2018

I am a Child Development Team Leader who has worked for the Council since 1989. I am a Unison member and was a Unision steward for ten years. I am a founding menber of Solidarity. Solidarity stands shoulder to shoulder with the strikers.

In 1970 as a result of female workers with Ford taking strike action in 1968 over equal paythe Equal Pay Act came into effect. In 2010 this was replaced by the equality Act which states that men and women have the right to equal pay for equal work. This is the law, therefore why do workers within Glasgow City Council in 2018 find themselves having to make the very difficult decision to embark on strike action over equal pay. Workers who are predominately women have been waiting in some cases, mine included twelve long years to receive what is rightfully ours. There is no agrument now that we are entitled to compensation but the difficulty we face is the length of time it is taking for us to receive said compensation. Some workers have sadly passed away while waiting for this money which they are entitled to. It is without a doubt a disgrace.

The Council state that good progress has been made- this is nonsense if this was indeed the case we would not be on strike. The highest Court in Scotland has told the Council to reach settlements with all concerned.

In the last ten months there have been twenty one meetings to no avail. The Council have now walked away from any further negotiations with the Trade Unions while industrial action continues. They  did however indicate that they would continue to meet with Stefan Cross. Thankfully he said that any negotiations will be with all parties concerned or not at all.

It is important to take a few minutes to talk about Stefan Cross and his involvement in the fight for Equal pay within Glasgow. If we rewind twelve years the Trade Unions were not prepared to fight for justice for us in regard to Equal pay. We were told time and time again that we should not pursue our Equal pay claims and that if we did we could potentially be responsible for cuts to services and jobs. Stefan Cross was prepared to fight for us. He then successfully secured substantially more for people who did not take union advice. So if some brave people had not asked Stefan Cross to pursue these claims we would be even further away from getting the justice that we deserve.

Thankfully Unision and the GMB are now working alongside Stefan Cross to secure settlements for all who are entitled to money owed to them,

So where do we go from here ?  well I believe if the Council continue to refuse to meet with GMB, Unison and Stefan Cross that in order to keep the momentum going that we need to increase our industrial action.

For ten years the Labour led council in Glasgow not only refused to negotiate and settle these Equal pay claims they undertook legal actions spending millions in the process fighting these claims.

At the Unision AGM in Febuary Susan Aitken, now the SNP leader of Glasgow City Council,  attended a Hustings alongside representatives  from the Labour Party, the Tory Party and The Green Party.  Susan you stated that if we elected a SNP Council that you would make a commitment to settle all Equal pay claims. Well Susan as I said we have been more than patient and it is time to honour the commitment that you made at the Hustings at the AGM in 2017.

Just to reiterate none of us want to be out on strike but we have no alternative as I think we have been more than patient.

Times are hard financially for all and no one can afford to lose any of our hard earned wages. However in my opinion we can not afford not to make this stance and try to persuade the council to finally sort out this mess.

Irene Lang

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