Saturday, February 20, 2021

Dundee Women Struggle Again

This blog has written about why Dundee was once known as She-Town. Yet again, the power of women is exerting itself in the city.

The GMB union has launched a collective grievance against Dundee city council over equal pay. Their case hinges on the council’s use of “craft agreements” in jobs traditionally dominated by men – such as bricklayers, joiners, roofers and glaziers – which include a bonus scheme in which workers are paid both productivity bonuses and fixed bonuses every month just for attending work. Comparable sectors made up predominantly of women, such as care, cleaning and catering, receive no such bonuses, and those working in them, say the union, may have taken home thousands of pounds less than their male counterparts each year. Although most of these workers earn the living wage of £9.50 an hour, the union says unpredictable shift patterns mean many can’t live on these wages alone and often work second and third jobs to top up their wages. 

“There’s almost even more of a sense of injustice because Dundee is a matriarchal city,” says GMB organiser Helen Meldrum, pointing to the city’s history. While the union is still amassing claims, she believes it is likely that there are women with equal pay cases against the council who were also involved in factory strikes over terms and conditions. 

“Dundee has a proud tradition of women leading industrial disputes and fights against injustices, and this is no exception,” she continues. “This money has been stolen from these women and they’ll never get back all the extra hours they’ve worked.” For the workers involved, the dispute is as much about dignity and visibility as it is about money. “We’re expected to do more and more for less and less.”

Care workers and cleaners of Dundee in fight for equal pay | Gender pay gap | The Guardian

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