Schools close and care withdrawn as council workers bring city to ‘standstill’

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Hundreds of schools and nurseries will be shut and home care services affected as Glasgow City Council workers strike in a row over equal pay claims.

The two-day industrial action on Tuesday and Wednesday, which involves more than 8,000 members of the GMB and Unison unions, is believed to be the biggest strike of its kind.

Thousands of female workers are proceeding with equal pay claims against the council following a Court of Session ruling last year.

GMB Scotland organiser Rhea Wolfson said members will bring the city to a “standstill” to progress negotiations.

Council workers march for equal pay
Hundreds of women, some dressed as suffragettes, marched earlier this year to put pressure on Glasgow City Council (Lucinda Cameron/PA)

Unions also said they feared action could be taken against refuse and street cleaning workers if they refuse to cross picket lines.

Glasgow City Council said all early years establishments, additional support for learning (ASL) schools and mainstream primary schools will close on both days, though all mainstream secondary schools will remain open.

The local authority said it had been exploring all options to avert the strike.

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “We understand why many of our workforce are angry about equal pay and we are also very aware of the depth of feeling there is behind this industrial action.

“However, the council is already committed to delivering equal pay and reaching a negotiated settlement on claims. There is nothing that the strike can achieve that we are not already doing and we are anxious to see everyone back around the table in good faith to move things forward.

“At the same time, the way union leaders have approached the strike has been hugely disappointing. We believed we had an agreement on providing life and limb cover for our most vulnerable citizens – indeed, the unions told the public that cover would be in place.

“It won’t. There has been absolutely no meaningful effort from the unions to work with us and their membership to ensure that life and limb cover will be in place.”

Glasgow City Council has sent letters to those affected informing them their care will be withdrawn for two days during the strike.

The spokeswoman added: “Rather than the reduced service we expected to be able to deliver with support from the trade unions; for many more people, there will now be no service at all.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact, but we have absolutely no alternative.”

The GMB union said unions have agreed to all council requests to support the life and limb cover plan, adding the offer from union members to work through the strike to support vulnerable home care users still stands.

Ms Wolfson said: “The council’s officers have been incapable of putting in place the most basic cover despite having three weeks to prepare and the offers we have made every single day to resolve the dispute.”

She added:  “Our members work for some of the most vulnerable elderly and disabled people in our community and we would never do anything that could cause them harm.”

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