Socialist Worker

Falkirk joins revolt against single status pay agreement

by Alan Thomson
Issue No. 2032

On the picket line in Falkirk (Pic:  Jimmy Ross)

On the picket line in Falkirk (Pic: Jimmy Ross)

Around 3,000 council workers in Falkirk struck for one day on Monday 18 December.

Members of the GMB and Unison unions struck in protest at the council’s job evaluation scheme which introduces wage cuts and increased hours. The council is doing this to pay for the single status agreement.

The strike closed many council offices. Picket lines were held at depots and training was cancelled after workers from other councils refused to cross them.

At a picket line outside council offices, Olivia Dewar, a youth worker and Unison welfare officer, said, “Our parents and grandparents fought for our rights years ago.

“Now the council is removing overtime and irregular hours payments. They’re even trying to remove our tea breaks.

“The council want to change our core hours to 7am-8pm. After that they want to reduce the overtime rate to only 1.2 times normal rate.

“We are making a stand because we need to think of future generations.

“There’s 11 percent of workers getting a wage cut but there are changes in conditions for everyone.”

One worker said, “The changes affect family life. We expect to be rewarded for working overtime and giving up family time – but not any more.

“The whole thing is rotten. They can afford Trident missiles but can’t fund our wages. We just have uncertainty.”

Willie McLean, the GMB roads department steward at Grangemouth Road, said, “Conditions have been bought off over the years.

“The council are changing everything. The workforce have given everything off their backs. We’re now worse off than we were ten years ago.”

Some 300 people came to a march and rally in support of the strikers on Saturday 16 December.

The strike has won a concession from the council. The council had set a deadline for appeals against the job evaluation scheme but have now removed it.

Margaret Cook, chair of Falkirk Unison, was pleased with the success of the strike.

She said, “A lot of people who came out were not in detriment.

“The ballot result had only a small majority for action but, once the strike was called, workers joined in to support their colleagues.”

Margaret is clear that there are important issues besides pay cuts: “The new scheme is still discriminatory. Council workers in Falkirk are being forced to accept less than national ‘Red Book’ standards.

“New workers will be forced to work a 37-hour week. Back pay for past discrimination must be paid by the council.”

The dispute will not be solved until the council remove the imposition of detriment.

Unions are discussing the next step.

Workers need to continue to stand together against the council’s divide and rule tactics.

The way forward is to maintain unity and involve all council workers in future action.

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