Schools and nurseries in north-west Glasgow are closed in the first day of a 48-hour strike over equal pay for women - believed to be the biggest of its kind.

The industrial action, starting this morning, involved more than 8,000 members of the GMB and Unison unions.

Thousands of female workers are proceeding with claims against Glasgow City Council following a Court of Session ruling last year.

The council said the strike was unnecessary and it hoped to reach a settlement in the coming months and start paying out in the next financial year.

GMB Scotland organiser Rhea Wolfson said members would bring the city to a "standstill" to progress negotiations.

Unions also said they feared action could be taken against refuse and street cleaning workers if they refuse to cross picket lines.

Glasgow City Council said all early years establishments, additional support for learning (ASL) schools and mainstream primary schools would close on both days, though all mainstream secondary schools will remain open.

Home care services for around 6,000 people are affected by the industrial action.

The local authority said it had explored all options to avert the strike.

Council leader Susan Aitken told BBC Radio Scotland: "The strike will have a devastating impact and there's no need for it."

She added: "I don't believe that the demands are strong enough to justify industrial action of this scale, I don't blame the women or the claimants in any way whatsoever, I understand their frustration, they've waited a long time for justice but they've won their case."

The local authority introduced its Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) and grading scheme in 2006 to tackle inequalities.

Some female workers say the way it is structured led to people in female-dominated roles are being paid up to £3 an hour less than people in male-dominated roles.

The GMB said unions have agreed to all council requests to support the life and limb cover plan, adding the offer from union members to work through the strike to support vulnerable home care users still stands.

Ms Wolfson said: "The council's officers have been incapable of putting in place the most basic cover despite having three weeks to prepare and the offers we have made every single day to resolve the dispute."

She added: "Our members work for some of the most vulnerable elderly and disabled people in our community and we would never do anything that could cause them harm."