But the issue is not simply a pay-cut issue in difficult economic times, although it is reported that the council wish to cut workers' pay by a third in a wage barely over £17000 per year. The council have argued that due to Equal Pay legislation and job evaluation exercises, they have assessed the role as equivalent to that of women doing a less well paid role and rather than raising women's pay, they want to cut the pay of (mainly male) refuse workers instead. This is a gross misapplication of the Equal Pay ethos which is designed to address the endemic failure in society to pay women the same rate as men. Equal Pay provided legal means to ensure that 'women's work' can be raised to its appropriate standing and tackle inequality.
This is then an abuse of the spirit of the law which is intended to protect women, providing a callous pay-cut justification to a council wishing to save money, so hundreds of men will suffer as a result. Not only are their wages being cut but at the same time society is sending them a message about their worth and value at a time when it should be helping those on low pay to remain in their homes and to keep the economy moving.
But of equal concern is how the laws intended to provide equality to women are being subverted. So along with the plight of hundreds of men there is a feminist case to defend in the refuse collector's strike action. We cant allow legislation intended to raise women's pay be used to justify paying both genders the lowest common denominator.