Equal pay discrimination at Glasgow City Council is expected to run for almost three more years — with predominantly female workers continuing to be paid unfairly, according to trade unions.
A settlement, worth over £500m, was agreed with around 16,000 current and former employees in 2019, but a new pay scheme still needs to be introduced.
It is estimated that it could take until April 2024 to put the pay and grading system in place — and unions claim the cost, along with 5000 new claims, could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.
They say it is “intolerable” low-paid, mainly female workers have to “wait a total of six years to get the monies they were due and are owed”.
A council spokesman said all parties agreed other claims would be “dealt with at a later stage” at the time of the 2019 deal.
Councillors will get an update on a job evaluation process next week, with the results set to be used to create the new pay system.
A report reveals the evaluation process could be finished between December 2022 and June 2023, with modelling and costing of the pay scheme and consultation to follow.
There is an “optimistic” first new pay date of October 2023, but a “realistic” date of April 2024.
Wendy Dunsmore, regional officer at Unite, said: “Equal pay is still and will continue to be the biggest cost Glasgow City Council has to face.
“It also has to face the additional recurring costs of a fair and equitable pay and grading structure being agreed.
“An interim settlement up to 2018 was welcome but there now needs to be a further payment to all those who have outstanding claims as it is intolerable that low paid, predominantly women workers have to wait a total of six years to get the monies they were due and are owed.”
Brian Smith, from Unison, said: “Until the new pay and grading scheme is implemented, thousands of women workers still experience pay discrimination every day they go to work.
“This is because the payouts made a couple of years ago only went up to March 2018, and there are also 5000 new claims for pre-2018 still to be settled too.”
He said talks are “not progressing as we had hoped” and claimed the cost will be hundreds of millions.
Ongoing revenue spending will be needed from 2024 to deliver a “fair” pay and grading scheme, Mr Smith added.
The council spokesman said new claims are currently being discussed, and the council is “keen to progress this work and officers are ready to meet claimants’ representatives”.
“All parties agreed at the time the 2019 settlement was negotiated that other claims, not covered by that deal — including any covering the period between 2018 and implementation of a new pay structure — would be dealt with at a later stage,” he added.
The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the job evaluation exercise, and interviews with staff to gather information about their roles now requires a “remote engagement model”.
A report by Robert Anderson, head of HT, states some council employees have “limited access” to council-issued IT.
Those staff can attend council hubs to use equipment or, in an “exception”, have face-to-face meetings.
The team is interviewing a representative sample of job holders, expected to be 5%, which means there are around 900 interviews left to complete.
Mr Anderson said: “From the perspective of equal pay, the contribution of job evaluation is the creation of a ranked order of jobs.
“It is with this that a new pay and grading scheme can be designed and then implemented. That act of implementation brings the challenge of equal pay to a conclusion as the council will then have a robust defence against future equal pay claims.”
By local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands