WOMEN in Glasgow were robbed of millions of hours through a failure of the council to provide equal pay, a union leader has said.

At a fringe meeting at the Labour Scottish Conference the party was criticised by unions for failing women for decades in the equal pay dispute.

Hazel Nolan, of GMB Scotland, said women workers were going to work every day and were being discriminated against every day.

She said: “That was under a Labour administration.”

Ms Nolan said the potential bill for settling claims could be as much as £500m.

She said: “That equates to 16million hours.

“That’s hours they will never get back. Some have passed away, that is hours with their family they will never have.”

Hayley Johnson of solicitors, Thomson’s, who have been dealing with many cases said it was allowed to happen because work done by women was not given the same value as men.

She said: “Roles that were predominantly seen as women’s work were undervalued. Carers were valued less than road workers or gardeners.

“Part time not seen as valuable as full time and 76% of part time workers are women.”

The lawyer said secrecy over people’s pay and conditions across employment sectors had to change.

She said: “For too long it has been cloak and dagger over what people are paid. It is not transparent.”

The end of a decade long battle that has seen the council defeated in the courts is in sight.

The SNP administration at Glasgow City Council announced last month it was abandoning the years of fighting the equal pay claims through the courts and was moving to settlement of claims through negotiation.

It decided not to seek leave to appeal to the UK Supreme Court, the final avenue open to the council to challenge a previous decision it should settle.

Council leader, Susan Aitken said the council would be moving ‘from litigation to negotiation’.

No figure has been put on what the final bill could be and £500m has been mentioned as the potential total for all claims.

However not all cases may be settled and amounts received in compensation have yet to be agreed and the final bill is likely to be less, but still in the hundreds of millions.

How any final sum will be funded from limited council funds has not been stated

Labour politicians have defended their previous actions on the equal pay dispute stating that it had paid out

Frank McAveety, former Leader of the council has said previously Labour spent £600m over the last ten years, to address historic inequalities in the council workforce.

And he added that all advice was form council legal officers and QC advice.

Officials form the council and lawyers and union representatives acting for the claimants are meeting to discuss progress towards agreeing settlements.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “The council and the claimants’ representatives are now meeting regularly and we have agreed a schedule of meeting for the rest of this calendar year.”