Glasgow: strikers speak out

‘The women are standing up,’ say Glasgow equal pay claimants on eve of strike

Two placards, the top is purple with the words 'OFFICIAL PICKET' in white capital letters, and the bottom half is white, with the UNISON logo on

“We’ve never been paid right, going back over 12 years. It’s been a constant fight to get our money what we’re entitled to. They’ve been robbing us, basically, on pay and grading.”

Those are the words of Glasgow home carer Denise Phillips, explaining why she and 8,000 other city council workers are striking over equal pay tomorrow and Wednesday (23 and 24 October).

She and three other UNISON strikers – fellow home care worker Joan Johnson, school cleaning supervisor and caterer Ingrid Bain and care home cleaning supervisor Lyn O’Hara – spoke about the strike, and the issues behind it, with Scottish journalist David Jamieson on his Beyond the Noise podcast.

“We have no other option but to take strike action,” added Joan. “We like our jobs caring – and we do care for the people of Glasgow. But enough is enough.”

Filling out the picture of what 12 years of unequal pay mean in reality, Ingrid said: “Do you know how much difference a pound an hour could have made to my family’s life? That’s £1,500 a year, a pound an hour, for a part-time worker doing two jobs.”

Although there are men who have equal pay claims, the overwhelming majority of those taking action this week are women.

And “the sisterhood that’s come out through this strike is unbelievable. Women are standing up.

“The lasses in my line of work, cleaning and catering, are finally saying: ‘D’you know what? I’ve done all that work for all these years: I deserve to be paid the same as some guy sweeping the streets.’ And why not?”

This week’s action will be the largest equal pay strike since the 1960s. A strike march and rally, hosted by the STUC, will assemble at 11:30 in Glasgow Green before marching to George Square.

  • Beyond the Noise with David Jamieson is a weekly podcast with CommonSpace journalist David Jamieson. The Glasgow strike episode discusses the issues behind the strike, demanding dignity for the work done by women, and why a strike rather than other forms of protest.

Listen to the podcast in full (20 minutes)

Find out more about UNISON and equal pay

Earlier story: Thousands of Glasgow women set to strike for equal pay (16 October 2018)