SCOTLAND'S biggest local authority is facing strike action as unions accused it of reneging on an agreement to settle dispute costing over £500m to end "chronic sex discrimination" and the final settlement of 18,000 equal pay claims.

Trade unions in Glasgow City Council are to consult their members on strike action over equal pay saying the stalling on an equal pay agreement will see thousands of women workers excluded from future pay-outs.

The council had part-settled with 13,000 women at a total cost of £505m in 2019.

But now the claimants' legal team from the unions Unison, GMB and Unite as well as unions Action4Equality, have been meeting with the council's lawyers over 5,000 claimants who have still received no settlement for the period up to March 2018, and 18,000 claimants who are still waiting for a settlement for the period after March 2018.

The unions estimatethat the new pay and grading system to eliminate gender pay discrimination will not be implemented until 2024 due to the volume of work involved around job evaluation and creating the new system.

READ MORE: Glasgow council faces legal action over new £310m equal pay row as 'chronic sex discrimination' continues

The trade unions therefore want the council to make further equal pay compensation payments now.

Union representatives say the council has stated that it is willing to discuss payments for those who have had nothing so far but only for a very small number of the jobs that were paid out under the deal reached in 2019.

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They say that if the council is seeking to adopt this approach for claims outstanding up to March 2018, then they assume that this is also what the council proposes to do for claims after March 2018. They describe the position as "unacceptable".

Sylvia Haughney, branch officer for Unison said: "Our members recognise this as a cynical ploy to divide the women of Glasgow, we won't be fooled. We were paid out in 2019 because our pay was unequal, nothing has changed since then, its still unequal, so we are still due the balance as promised.

"The council claim they need more data from the claimants. What data are the council saying they need? They had the correct data in 2019 to sort this, we are still the same people, in the same jobs, in the same pay scheme. The council has the right data now and it knows it, its time to pay up as promised.

"We will now consult with those members we intend to ask to participate in strike action."

It comes after the council was praised last year by a regulator for their progress in part-settling the equal pay dispute.

The Scottish Accounts Commission said that dealing with the claims had been a "significant development" with more than 98 per cent of cases part-settled.

The claimant group, reached the equal pay deal with the council in 2018.

That came after about 8,000 Glasgow council workers walked out on strike for 48 hours in October 2018 in a bid to settle the long-running pay claim.

The dispute centred around workers in traditionally female-dominated roles such as catering or home care being paid up to £3 an hour less than those in male-dominated jobs, such as refuse workers or grave diggers.

In 2017, two judgements at the Court of Session ruled that both the council's payment protection scheme and its Workforce Pay and Benefits Review discriminated against women workers.

The claimant group as part of the 2019 settlement process, agreed to suspend legal proceedings with the council to focus on replacing the discriminatory pay process.

GMB branch secretary Shona Thomson commented: “Glasgow City Council want to exclude over 20% of job titles that were previously agreed, from any future agreement, providing no justification or explanation. This would mean thousands of women who work under pay discrimination every day will receive nothing, adding insult to injury.

"We will not agree to the exclusion of our friends and colleagues. We know that when we stand united and take action, we can achieve anything, we done it last time and we’ll do it again.

READ MORE: 'Deeply concerning': Glasgow equal pay 'time bomb' remains 'unresolved'

"We will now consult with those members we intend to ask to participate in strike action."

To pay for the claims, Glasgow City Council approved plans to sell off major venues to an arm's length body before leasing them back.

Plans were put in place to remortgage venues such as the Armadillo, the Emirates Arena, the Riverside Museum and Toryglen Regional Football Centre and then lease them back to the council - with the cost of the lease designed to meet the loan repayments.

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Wendy Dunsmore, industrial officer at Unite, added: "Glasgow City Council’s delays in payments to claimants excludes thousands of workers who are predominantly female from future payments is deceitful and inflammatory. We all need to be clear about the situation here, which is that thousands of workers are awaiting payments owed to them for being wrongfully treated.

"The council are dragging their feet over the payments settled up to March 2018, while moving the goalposts over the claims made after this period. "It’s infuriating the workers and that’s why Unite is consulting our members over this unacceptable situation. There needs to be further payments to all those who have outstanding claims. Many of these workers don’t have the time to wait months and years for their money. Choices are literally being made every day by families over the cost of fuel, energy and living.”

A city council spokesman said: “In 2019, the council settled a substantial number of historic equal pay claims, covering a period from 1 January 2007 to 31 March 2018. Over recent weeks, it has been in discussions with claimants’ representatives about a range of newer claims that were not dealt with at that time and which the 2019 settlement expressly did not cover," he said.

“The council has been clear that it is ready to make in-principle offers in relation to a sizeable number of posts, but representatives have told officers they are not prepared to engage with the council to make those offers to staff.

“And, while representatives have indicated they will withdraw a number of claims which they agree have no merit, they have also declined to show the council data they say have - and had previously argued justifies others.

“The council remains ready and willing to make in-principle offers and to carefully consider any evidence relating to other posts, if representatives are prepared to provide it.”