THOUSANDS of workers have voted to strike in an equal pay dispute with Glasgow City Council.

A UNISON ballot of nearly 3,000 school learning support workers, school administration workers, early years nursery workers and other education staff has returned a 90% vote to take strike action over the council’s failure to reach agreement on a long standing equal pay dispute.

In a second UNISON ballot of over 2,000 home carers, school cleaners, catering workers and other staff employed by Cordia 99% voted to strike.

UNISON called it "an incredible result".

It follows a ballot of GMB Scotland members including care workers, school cleaners and caterers employed by council service provider Cordia which returned an "overwhelming" 98 per cent support for strike action.


UNISON warned the strike action would hit schools, nurseries, home care, cleaning and catering services in the city. Dates are still to be confirmed.

Carol Ball, UNISON Glasgow chairman said:“This is a fantastic show of strength by an overwhelmingly female workforce who have been treated disgracefully for years. They are now standing up and fighting back.

"We have given the council ten months to make progress on addressing the historical discrimination suffered by these workers. However the council has agreed nothing. Offered nothing. All we have had are meetings about meetings and talks about talks. It’s time for some action.

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"Our 5,000 UNISON members will now move towards strike action, and we will co-ordinate that action with our sisters and brothers in the GMB trade union.”

GMB Scotland represented about 2,000 of an estimated 10,000 women who have been pursuing equal pay claims against for more than ten years.

The city council last week said were preparing to reach a negotiated settlement and condemned the strike plan saying it was "putting vulnerable people at risk", GMB had previously claimed that the council has cost taxpayers £50,000 an hour by failing to settle the dispute.

They believe the bill for 'discriminating' against the women over more than a decade could top £500 million, a claim the council said was not accurate.

But Scotland's public spending watchdog warned of Glasgow's "unprecedented" financial challenge and Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council admits that payouts to the female workers would have a "very significant impact on the council" for many years to come.

The GMB last month issued a seven-day notice for a full industrial action ballot of their members who work for Cordia – an arm’s-length branch of the council who provide care for 87,000 people and deliver catering and cleaning in schools.

In January, the council leader promised to draw a line under years of legal wrangling over equal pay and reach a settlement with thousands of workers.

The claims relate to a Job Evaluation Scheme introduced in 2006, which had been intended to eliminate gender pay inequality.

However, the new system built in a three-year payment protection for men who lost out on bonuses, which was last year ruled discriminatory.

A long court battle has also raged over the design of the scheme itself.

It saw mainly female workers, in jobs such as caterers, cleaners and care assistants, paid less than male workers in jobs that were deemed to be of equal value, such as refuse collection.

After years of employment tribunal and court battles, the council said earlier this year that "negotiation" would solve the dispute.