LABOUR has categorically denied claims that Richard Leonard was an architect of the dodgy pay deal that cost women workers their wages.

Kezia Dugdale's successor was a GMB union organiser before entering Holyrood.

He spent 25 years as a workers' representative.

Yesterday Scottish Labour staff issued a strong denial that Leonard had helped create the equal pay dispute that led to the current 48-hour strike by women at Glasgow City Council.

As many as 8000 staff have refused to work as they call for an urgent end to the 12-year dispute, which began with discriminatory pay rules brought in by Labour councillors in 2006.

While the current SNP administration has ended the £2.5 million legal battle begun by its Labour predecessors – and aims to make a pre-Christmas settlement offer – workers say progress is too slow.

Leonard was amongst prominent Labour figures to offer "solidarity" to the women on social media.

However, questions about his role in the dispute intensified after lawyer Ian Smart – former president of the Law Society of Scotland and a Scottish Labour veteran – claimed that Leonard had helped create the unfair framework.

On Tuesday he tweeted: "The reason there was a strike in Glasgow today was because, in 2006, the GMB insisted on a deal with discriminatorily terms in favour of their male members. Advised by the GMB’s then research officer, @LabourRichard That’s just an unfortunate fact."

The comment was circulated widely by Scottish users of the social network, including Glasgow councillor Mhairi Hunter and MP Stewart McDonald, both of the SNP.

Now Scottish Labour has issued a statement refuting the claim.

The party told the pro-Labour Red Robin blog: “At the time in question Richard Leonard was a GMB organiser representing workers predominantly in the private sector, not at Glasgow City Council.

"He had no involvement whatsoever at any point in local authority Job Evaluation Schemes or discriminatory deals. He won equal pay claims for women workers in distilleries and dockyards, in factories and power stations across Scotland over two decades, and is happy to stand on his record of delivery on equal pay.

"Furthermore, Richard Leonard was never a research officer at the GMB. This merely another attempt to distract from the central issue of the strike over equal pay at Glasgow City Council – the council must end its intransigence, halt its anti-trade union actions and rhetoric, and resolve the equal pay dispute.”