In June 1968 female sewing machinists in the Ford car plant in Dagenham took a stand for equal pay in a strike that stopped production for three weeks. They succeeded with abolishing their lower “women’s rate” of pay and triggered a wider campaign and without the action implemented by the Ford women there would have been no Equal Pay Act of 1970.
The Equal Pay Act of 1970 was replaced by the Equality Act 2010, which gives men and women the right to equal pay for equal work.
In 2005 Glasgow City Council undertook a job evaluation scheme, this was intended to ensure predominantly low-paid women would get equal pay to men for equal work.
However, despite years of negotiating and false promises by the previous Labour Administrations since 2005 thousands of low paid women are still waiting to be paid the wages they are due in recognition of the Equal Pay legislation.
The Labour Administrations in Glasgow let down low paid women for many years and even went to court to prevent equal pay settlements thus using Glasgow council tax payer’s money to deny pay justice to thousands of their own low paid women employees. They should hold their heads in shame.
It is little surprise that the Labour Administration lost 13 council seats in May last year and the SNP won 12 to become a new minority administration. In the last 16 months they have negotiated in good faith but promises to settle are not enough. Promises don’t buy messages and pay bills. These low paid women workers have had enough and although worried about taking action and concerned for the people they care for and educate they simply can’t wait any longer.
Solidarity backs this strike action 100%. Our members are among the strikers and are the authors of this statement. Some say the unions are only now backing strike action to politically embarrass an SNP led council. That may have some truth in it but the fact remains the action is legitimate, overdue and necessary. All involved know the biggest culprits in this sorry mess are the previous Labour councillors who denied us equal pay justice and rights.
Many of us low-paid women cannot afford to strike but we feel we have been more than patient. Solidarity are very pleased that the GMB, Unison and Stefan Cross are all working together and that Stefan Cross has made it clear that if negotiations are to progress while strike action is ongoing, that it has to be with all parties.
Liza Farrell, Jenny Kiernan & Irene Lang – UNISON & Solidarity Members