Scotland’s Famous ‘City of Discovery’ Has A Sex Discrimination Problem
Two weeks ago GMB Scotland lodged a collective grievance against Dundee City Council over equal pay, a story that was covered widely in the national media, yet we’ve heard nothing from the council since aside from a standard response: “We will consider and respond in due course.”
If there are worried looking faces around Dundee House and City Square, it’s because there should be. Thousands of women employed by the council and it’s ALEOs may have lost out on thousands of pounds each in earnings because of a pay agreement that council leaders and officials either suspect or know to be discriminatory.
The roots of the pay discrimination rest in a bonus scheme that’s part of the council’s ‘craft agreement’. These jobs are dominated by men, including bricklayers, joiners, roofers and plasterers, and they receive bonuses on their basic rates of pay for their working time. Jobs traditionally dominated by women, like home carers, cleaners, caters and school support staff, are not part of this agreement and do not receive these bonuses or enhancements on their basic rates of pay for their working time. If that doesn’t sound fair, it’s because it isn’t. More problematically for the council, it’s also unlawful.
By law, men and women must get equal pay for doing ‘equal work’, this includes everything from the basic rate of pay to pensions, bonuses to benefits. In Dundee it appears that work of equal value is not being paid equally. It also means the council’s liability could run into tens of millions of pounds in wages owed to their workers because equal pay claims can be up to a ceiling of five years. And each day that passes with this discrimination unresolved means the council’s liability will only increase with every working hour.
So GMB Scotland is challenging the council on this. We are lodging equal pay claims on behalf of our members affected in Dundee City Council, Tayside Contacts and the Leisure and Culture service. We have four clear objectives:
- Compensation for lost earnings due to the discriminatory bonus scheme.
- Ending discriminatory pay policies throughout the council and its ALEOs.
- Proper value for all employees’ work through a thorough job re-evaluation process.
- Deliver pay justice for women by raising standards, not by cutting pay or services.
Our famous City of Discovery has a sex discrimination problem. That should sting anyone who takes pride in Dundee’s historical matriarchal status, and it should shame anyone who claims Scotland is a land a fair work. And whether it’s around the negotiating table or in the courts, Dundee City Council can’t ignore this.
If you think you have an equal pay claim, you can submit your claim online now at: https://gmb.powerappsportals.com/
Helen Meldrum, GMB Scotland Organiser for Dundee City Council