GLASGOW City Council has agreed to pay £500 million to settle its long-running equal pay dispute, putting thousands of historically low-paid women in line for an average pay-out of £35,000.

The historic deal has been agreed in principal by council leader Susan Aitken and the trade unions and lawyers representing the affected women.

Ms Aitken said that while the deal will need to be signed off by the full council "in the coming weeks", she is "delighted that the council and claimants' representatives have agreed an offer".

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“My commitment to resolving this issue has never wavered and I have never needed to be convinced of the case for equality," she said.

“I would like to thank each and every council officer who has been involved in this at times extremely challenging process, the claimants’ representatives who have steadfastly represented their members and clients throughout and the claimants themselves for their patience.

“After a decade of obstruction and inaction, in a relatively short space of time we have now reached agreement which delivers the pay justice these women long have fought for.

"I am proud to be able to recommend a settlement to right this historic injustice and I trust colleagues across the chambers will support this deal and the work we must undertake to address the future challenges it places before us.”

With the exception of a small group of male staff whose pay grade was used as the standard against which female workers’ salaries were compared, it is thought that everyone who made a claim is in line to receive a payment.

However, it will be several months before any money is paid out to claimants, with council officials having to apply the broad methodology used to calculate the final sum to each individual claim.

In total around 14,000 claims have been lodged with the council, the vast majority of which were filed on the claimants’ behalf by law firm Action4Equality Scotland. Trade unions Unison and the GMB are acting on behalf of several thousand claimants each while Unite, which joined the action last year, represents a few hundred.

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Once individual settlements have been calculated they will have to be agreed with the women’s representatives before offer letters are sent out. That process will take some time to complete, with no money expected to be paid out until the middle of this year at the earliest.

Stefan Cross of Action4Equality Scotland said that despite neither side getting everything it wanted from the deal and both sides making "serious concessions", the claimants' representatives would be recommending the offer be accepted because it is "a fair deal".

Glasgow City Council is now going to have to put plans in motion to release the funds required to make the settlement. It is thought that the council will transfer a number of revenue-generating sports and cultural properties into an arms-length business that will then mortgage them in order to raise the necessary cash.

The deal comes three months after the affected women staged a two-day walk-out in protest at the length of time it was taking to negotiate a settlement, with cleaners, carers and cooks downing tools across the city.

Their anger was largely directed at Ms Aitken - who took over as council leader when her party, the SNP, seized control of the local authority from Labour in 2017 – because she had promised to have a settlement agreed by the end of 2018.

She made that promise after the Labour Party had fought the women through the courts for years.

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Although that timetable was not ultimately met, in December both sides spoke of the “valuable progress” that had been made following the strike and agreed to delay final sign-off until the new year.

“Valuable progress has been made but the remaining issues are complicated and the agreement to adjourn until January was the right thing to do,” Unison organiser Peter Hunter said at the time.

Once the settlements have been made the council and the claimants' representatives will agree a new job evaluation structure so the existing pay scheme can be replaced. That process is likely to take two years to complete.

As that means anyone receiving an equal-pay settlement in the coming months would continue to be paid under the discredited system for some time afterwards, it is expected that a further settlement will be negotiated further down the line to cover the period between the initial payout being made and the new pay structure coming into force.