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IT was one of Scotland’s most totemic campaigns not just of last year, but of the 21st century. So it was fitting that the women of Glasgow’s equal pay campaign were recognised on Thursday night with the Evening Times Editor’s Award.
Less fitting, though, that this should be collected by Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander “on behalf of all the women involved.”
Yes, that’s right. That’s Eva Bolander, the official representative of the council the women had to strike against to win equal pay.
It’s not often in this job that I’m truly lost for words, but this move left me struggling as to how I’d begin this column.
Unison organiser Jennifer McCarey summed it up best, saying working-class women were learning that an award supposedly honouring them was given “at an event they weren’t invited to, for a campaign the fought and won.”
It’s not the first time either that Bolander has featured in this column. Last year, while the equal pay dispute was still roaring, Glasgow’s SNP council accepted the gift of a six-figure Rolls-Royce to ferry the hapless figurehead around the city.
Back last summer, I recalled the heroic women at Rolls-Royce in Hillington who went on strike for equal pay in 1944.
As the council continued to obfuscate over equal pay — not settling with the women until January this year — I suggested that it was emulating the Rolls-Royce bosses rather than the workers of the city’s history.
But the farcical spectacle of Bolander collecting a totally unearned trophy on Thursday offers a better explanation.
The modern Establishment is so ignorant of industrial relations that they understand it as some kind of resolved family argument rather than a matter of class conflict.
The write-up in the Evening Times confirms this, saying that the resolution was “testament to the tenacity and bravery of the campaigners and to the hard work done by both sides.”
Yes, it must have been so hard for those poor council bosses who resisted handing over illegally squirrelled wages for so long. My heart bleeds for them.
Evening Times editor Donald Martin said the paper “wanted to recognise the many voices who spoke up, the women on both sides who spent years working to resolve this.”
Bolander is quoted as describing the deal as a “mutual win for both the campaigners and the City Council.”
At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in Glasgow City Council’s Rolls-Royce is the clang of its passenger’s brass neck.
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