GMB Scotland is fighting for equal pay for Dundee women and I am calling time on the Council’s war against women. We are fighting for equal pay because we have discovered that there are a group of male workers being paid extraordinary bonuses that are not available to women workers and that makes me furious.
But what makes me most angry is what our women members have had to endure over the past decade whilst these bonuses have been handed out by Council Officials to a small group of men. Whilst money has been thrown at some, for the rest of us, we have had to fight tooth and nail to preserve the most basic rights, pay and conditions.
We fought for 2 years to stop women being compulsorily moved onto split shifts in the name of ‘cost saving’. Women who are carers had to turn up to council meetings, make their voices heard with the administration and it took the threat of strike action after a positive result in a formal industrial action ballot, in order for them to back down.
Women recruited into the service now, are subject to disruptive and gruelling split shifts meaning they have ‘dead time’ between shifts when they aren’t paid and their shifts last long into the night. There is no value given to women’s time.
Catering and cleaning budgets have continually been cut by Dundee city council. Recently, a central production unit was funded to make a conveyor belt of frozen school meals for kids in the city. This has made 40 women who were cooks in schools redundant, with some being brought back in a job 2 grades lower than before, despite having the same level of responsibility as before.
Cleaning budgets had been cut so much that the Council did not have the capacity to keep buildings safe during COVID and women are making up the hours on temporary contracts.
Women who work in education in the city have continually been handed temporary contracts, including many who have been in post for a number of years. This means they have no security, find it difficult obtaining credit and the fear of not having their contracts renewed at any point. Precarious work seems to be acceptable to this council, when it is done by women.
Most of the women in the female dominated roles within the council and Tayside Contracts have part time jobs and report to us that they work two, three, sometimes four jobs to put food on the table. The structural discrimination in the continual handing out of inferior contracts to women is something that also must be addressed.
Women are being consistently denied dignity in retirement as a result of low wage jobs meaning they cannot afford to stay in the pension scheme. Older women are the poorest group in society and Dundee City Council is ensuring that remains the case.
It makes me very angry that women have been disproportionately affected by the cuts, and that our most vulnerable in the city have seen their services slashed. All the while, someone somewhere has been conspiring to prop up discriminatory bonuses for a group of men.
All of the women who have been out working during the pandemic are key workers. They have fed, clothed, educated our kids and looked after our elderly and most vulnerable. They deserve better.
What is clear to me is that this is a council run by men, for men who have been aware of the discriminatory bonuses for a very long time.
Through GMB Scotland’s Pay Justice campaign, we are fighting for equal pay but we also fighting for an overhaul of Dundee’s discriminatory and unfair practises. We have an opportunity now to build a better city, a better Council that works for people of Dundee and delivers for women workers.
GMB Scotland Organiser Helen Meldrum
GMB Scotland is currently taking equal pay claims for all members working for Dundee City Council, Tayside Contracts and Leisure and Culture Dundee. ALL members working for these employers should submit a claim now: https://gmb.powerappsportals.com/