Winning equal pay – building members’ confidence

Kath Stirling and Lyn Marie O’Hara
Glasgow’s Kath Stirling and Lyn Marie O’Hara at the fringe meeting

The stirring chords of “Bread and Roses” opened the #Uwomen2020 Fringe Meeting on Equal Pay as our Scottish UNISON colleagues from Glasgow City branch, Kath Stirling and Lyn Marie O’Hara, assisted by Jean Kilpatrick, took us through their campaign and then spoke about the current job evaluation process.

The campaign for equal pay engaged a huge number of women members in the care sector and included two days of strike action before Glasgow City council settled the dispute by paying out the money that these women were entitled to.

Some members received life changing sums that they had been denied throughout their working lives. However over 150 women died before the case was settled. A bench dedicated to these workers has been placed outside the council building.

Kath described how the dispute developed members’ confidence to take action and many members have since become involved in the job evaluation process.

Kath said: “It was about encouraging and inspiring our members to take part because they know their job best. When they said that they couldn’t do it we just said, ‘you won your equal pay claim’ and a smile starts and they do it.”

Lyn Marie O’Hara added: “We held a series of meetings around the city and the atmosphere was wonderful. You could feel the swell of pride amongst our members.”

The branch trained and supported members to take part and for some women this has resulted in huge uplifts in grades. Delegates at the Fringe applauded the achievements of the women in Glasgow and many asked for advice on their own situations.

To the statement from some delegates “Our members will never take strike action,” Kath replied: “Never say never. I would have said that about many of our members but when they got angry it inspired them to act. And when they acted, they won.”

By Kate Ramsden

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