What it means: Eight thousand council workers in Glasgow are planning to strike this week, in what will probably be the biggest equal pay protest in UK history. The strikers say they are protesting decades of sexist wage discrimination towards low-paid female workers at the hands of both the Labour Party (who ran the council from 1980-2017) and the SNP (who run it now).
Glasgow’s council says the strikes are a waste of time, have “no justification” and are selfish because many of the striking women work with vulnerable people, including in care homes. Critics of the strikes also point out that the women are asking for about £1 billion in compensation, which the council can’t afford.
The reasons behind the strike are a bit confusing and complicated. It seems that in 2006, the then-Labour council decided to fix the gender pay gap and made such a mess of things that they ended up making the problem worse.
The council were worried that because it would no longer be okay for men to be paid more than women for the same job, men’s wages might fall (god forbid they just increase the women’s wages, eh?). To fix that, they announced a men-only ‘payment protection’ scheme, which would give men extra money to make up for any money they had lost out on as a result of equal pay policies. Yeah… we don’t know what they were thinking either. Female council workers sued, saying it was gender discrimination, and in 2016 the court agreed with them.
The 2006 Labour council also decided that it would be a marvellous idea to pay higher wages for jobs in which a lot of men work (like bin collection) and lower wages for jobs in which a lot of women work (such as cleaning and catering) despite the fact that they said all these job roles were equally valuable. That didn’t go down very well with female workers either. Can’t imagine why…
So how do we get what we need to live? Our livelihoods are our own personal answer to that question, whether it be job in a factory, setting up a start-up, or taking time out to travel. But the economy we live in affects the choices we have in setting up our livelihoods, and we rely on so many other workers around us to be able to do what we do… how do we get the balance right?