Glasgow women's strike, October 23rd, 2018. Photo: Twitter/@HelenLMeldrum Glasgow women's strike, October 23rd, 2018. Photo: Twitter/@HelenLMeldrum

Strike action in Glasgow spreads, showing the power of solidarity of men and women workers, reports Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

Almost four decades after the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, working women in Glasgow have staged the biggest strike ever since then for equal pay.

On the first day of the 48-hour strike by the GMB and Unison, primary schools, nurseries and other services were shut or running on reduced service.

After picketing early on Tuesday, pickets converged for a march from Glasgow Green to George Square. Thousands joined the protest.


Several Counterfire members joined them to show solidarity. But we were not the only ones. You could see members of other unions from across the city show up to express support.

There were members of the University and Colleges Union, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, Unite, and others.

The mood was confident. Collective action had brought smiles back to the faces of many of the women there.

There were also many children and toddlers, who also did not go to school and nursery but to the demonstration.

As we marched, it was extraordinary to see people leave their shops or down their construction tools to show solidarity.

News also emerged that 600 refuse staff, street cleaners and road workers have also walked out, refusing to cross picket lines at depots across Glasgow.

The women are owed between £500 million and £1 billion in back pay, according to campaign group Action 4 Equality.

The situation is scandalous, but it is also symbolic of wider discrimination faced by working women across the country.

Solidarity strikes by male workforces in fact show that this is more broadly a class issue. Workers, men and women, face exploitative conditions and nasty managerial practices on a daily basis.

Victory for the 8,000 women council workers could be a watershed moment that inspires wider action.

This is why the SNP-led Glasgow Council has threatened the GMB union with legal action over illegal solidarity action.

This is why it is vital our side stands by the workers and their unions, and argues that collective action is the best way to smash sexism, anti-union laws, austerity and exploitation.

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica is a member of Marks21 in Serbia and a supporter of Counterfire. He is on the editorial board of LeftEast and teaches at the University of Glasgow.