SCOTLAND’S largest council will not return to court over the equal pay row still raging after more than a decade.

Councillors in Glasgow voted against appealing to the Supreme Court over a ruling given in May which found the local authority had discriminated against thousands of women.

Around 6000 workers are thought to be affected, with some claims running back to 2006.

The Court of Session ruling came just weeks after the SNP succeeded Labour as the city’s largest party in a landmark win which saw the unionist party lose power there for the first time in almost 40 years.

The SNP’s manifesto included a commitment to resolve the long-running issue, which could cost the local authority £500 million.

Yesterday council leader Susan Aitken confirmed the administration will not take up its right to appeal the May judgement and will instead return to negotiations.

She said: “We need to send a strong message to our lower paid female employees that we value the crucial work that you do, and we believe you should be paid equally for it compared to others doing similar work.

“Our equal pay negotiations will assess claims, set comparators and determine if compensation is due. This is a complex process which will take time to complete but all parties are willing and this is the right way for us to resolve this.”

A number of meetings with claimants’ representatives stretching into “the rest of this calendar year” has now been timetabled, according to a council spokesperson. The process is expected to run into next year.

Protesters gathered outside the city chambers yesterday as members of all four parties met.

Following the result, Carol Ball, chair of the Unison union’s Glasgow City branch, said it was “just the first day in a process of moving to equality”. She commented: “This is a great day for the low-paid cleaners, carers, caterers and others working for Glasgow City Council who have waited 10 years for pay equality.”

The union’s Scotland regional manager Peter Hunter continued: “Every councillor now knows what was hidden in the past – there is pay discrimination in this council, it needs to stop, and it stops now.

“The challenge is to maintain that standard of governance in the months and years ahead. Discrimination never sleeps, so there is no place for complacent governance. The women of Glasgow are awake and alert to their rights.”

Home carer Amanda Brown said she and colleagues had been through “a long and difficult struggle”, while Labour group leader Frank McAveety, the former council leader, said Aitken’s team “may face some very tough choices ahead” as they seek to cover compensation payments.

He said: “Glasgow Labour has always been committed to equal pay for equal work. This has been a long-standing issue, with no simple answers.”

McAveety went on: “Reaching an agreed settlement will take time. Throughout that process, Labour will continue to ensure that there are no job losses, that no one becomes poorer as a result, and the fair deal our city deserves from the Scottish Government.”

Councillor David Meikle, who leads the Tory group, said: “Labour spent 10 years fighting against paying low-paid women what they are entitled to but now the SNP must deliver on the promises they made during the election.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Allan Young of the Scottish Greens said: “We now need to get everyone around the table for a fresh start in industrial relations. Central to this should be a strong focus on ending any current, and preventing any future, gender pay inequalities.”