Unison union members in Glasgow have voted overwhelmingly for a three-day strike, beginning on Tuesday of next week, to oppose the city council’s single status job evaluation pay review.
Some 66 percent of those balloted voted for industrial action in a relatively high 47 percent return.
The council recently issued a “90-day notice” of their intent to impose the new grades and conditions.
These proposed changes have resulted in widespread anger among council workers. Two weeks ago, 600 workers protested outside the city chambers.
While some very low paid workers such as home helps have seen their wages increase, others such as day care and residential workers, many of whom are female workers, face pay cuts.
In social work services over a quarter of the workforce will see their wages fall. In some cases workers will lose £5,000 a year.
The council claims no worker will see any reduction in their wages, but those facing downgrading will not receive full annual pay increases and “protection” ends in 2009.
Wages of downgraded workers still remaining in the same post will fall to the new lower level. Alan, a social work employee, said, “This result is a vote for solidarity. It is about those who have gained standing together with those who have lost.
“The council’s bribe to pay a backdated lump sum before Christmas to those who signed up to accept the deal has clearly not worked.”
Mike Kirby, chair of the Glasgow City Council Unison branch, and Scottish region convenor, has indicated that the branch is always available to talk to the council on the issue.
However, he told stewards recently, “For the past few months we have being using force of argument—now we will use the argument of force.”
After next week’s three day strike, the branch is planning to bring out key groups of workers indefinitely.
Clare, a community worker, said, “I believe the branch has given a very good lead, but I have some reservations about selective action as it can isolate those on indefinite strike and lead to passivity among everyone else.”
Unison is the largest city council union, and the GMB and T&G unions are both opposed to the pay review, even though they have not yet had official strike ballots.
The GMB’s indicative ballot showed a narrow majority in favour of industrial action.
It seems likely that many GMB and T&G members will refuse to cross Unison picket lines, echoing the unity that was seen during the pensions strike earlier this year.
The dispute in Glasgow comes at a crucial time. Throughout Scotland only three councils have fully reached agreement on single status.
Glasgow is Scotland’s largest local authority and the dispute’s outcome will have far reaching implications, so solidarity from other workers is crucial.
Messages of support to Glasgow City Unison, 18 Albion Street, Glasgow. Fax: 0141 552 3807. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org