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Equal pay strike escalates on second day of action

Schools are closed and bin collections will not take place due to 48-hour strike over equal pay.

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Strikers outside Glasgow Council’s city chambers in George Square for a mass rally over equal pay (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Strikers outside Glasgow Council’s city chambers in George Square for a mass rally over equal pay (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Strikers outside Glasgow Council’s city chambers in George Square for a mass rally over equal pay (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Strike action over equal pay has escalated as refuse collectors and parking attendants refused to cross picket lines in Glasgow in solidarity with striking women.

Hundreds of schools remain shut and care services are affected on the second day of a 48-hour strike over equal pay.

More than 8,000 members of the Unison and GMB unions walked out on Tuesday on the strike – believed to be the biggest of its kind.

Scheduled bin collections are not expected to take place in Glasgow on Wednesday after around 500 refuse collectors refused to cross picket lines.

A shift of around 20 parking attendants has also joined the action.

Around 12,500 workers, mostly women, are proceeding with claims against the council following a Court of Session ruling last year.

Rhea Wolfson, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “Many members, including parking attendants and refuse and cleansing workers, as a matter of individual conscience, are choosing to support the striking women of Glasgow by refusing to cross picket lines and demonstrations.”

On Tuesday thousands of strikers joined a march from Glasgow Green to Glasgow City Chambers for a rally.

The council said the strike was unnecessary and it hopes to reach a settlement in the coming months and start paying out in the next financial year.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “This strike is unnecessary and dangerous.

“Unnecessary because the council is absolutely committed to delivering equal pay and reaching a negotiated settlement – and dangerous because its impact is being felt most keenly by the most vulnerable people in the city.

“We understand why many of our workforce are angry about equal pay, but there is nothing that this strike can achieve that we are not already doing.”

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Workers marching through Glasgow for a rally at George Square (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Workers marching through Glasgow for a rally at George Square (Andrew Milligan/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Workers marching through Glasgow for a rally at George Square (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The council said it has written to unions about “unlawful action”.

A spokesman said: “Whether or not you agree with the concept of the law around striking, It is vital that trade unions give the council the chance to prepare for a strike and try to mitigate the damage. That is what UNISON and the GMB have done in respect of the equal pay strike.

“Taking cleansing staff out on strike with no warning whatsoever and no chance to negotiate is simply unacceptable.

“We are simply asking the GMB to ensure that their members do their work, or hold a ballot and give us the chance to negotiate.”

Unions hope the strike will put pressure on the council to speed up the negotiation process.

Unison branch chairwoman Mary Dawson said: “These women are the cogs that keep our city turning – cleaning, caring, educating and looking after some of the city’s most vulnerable people – and they have not taken the decision to strike lightly.

“Yet, despite the vital services they provide, their roles are still chronically under-valued.

“It’s time Glasgow City Council took action to resolve this long-standing injustice so these women can continue to provide the services we all rely upon.”

The local authority introduced its Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) and grading scheme in 2006 to tackle inequalities.

Some workers say the way it is structured led to people in female-dominated roles being paid up to £3 an hour less than those in roles dominated by men.

Some women are said to have been paid up to £4,000 a year less than male counterparts.

Glasgow City Council said all early years establishments, additional support for learning (ASL) schools and mainstream primary schools would be closed on both days of the strike, though all mainstream secondary schools would remain open.

Home care services for about 6,000 people are affected by the industrial action.

Museums, leisure centres and libraries run by Glasgow Life will remain open but there may be disruption to catering and cleaning operations.

The council also warned people that bin collections may be delayed due to “unofficial industrial action”.

It tweeted: “Due to unofficial industrial action as part of wider action affecting the council your bin collection maybe delayed.

“Bins missed will be collected on next scheduled day.”

PA