Day Centre workers in Glasgow have begun their fifth week of an indefinite strike.
The workers, in the Unison union, care for people with learning and physical difficulties. They are striking against attempts to deskill their jobs and reduce wages by up to £6,000.
The council has refused to negotiate on pay and job descriptions unless the union agrees to“service modernisation” – meaning closing half of Glasgow’s day centres and making one quarter of the workforce redundant.
This week it said it would carry on with “modernisation” plans without consulting the union unless the strike is called off. It has scheduled consultations with carers in the next few days.
Carers are debating whether they should participate or wait until the council has reached a proper settlement with its workers.
Forty workers and carers left the picket lines to lobby the Scottish Parliament on Thursday of last week. Strikers serenaded MSPs with songs composed for the occasion.
Six MSPs from the ruling Scottish National Party came out to meet with strikers. One of them, Bob Doris read a motion he will be presenting to the parliament, which “sympathises” with the concerns of strikers.
But when strikers pressed MSPs for the Scottish government’s support in properly funding the equal pay settlements, they claimed that this was Westminister’s responsibility.
Some 400 strikers, carers, service users, and other Unison members and supporters demonstrated outside the council’s celebration of the announcement that Glasgow will be hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games on Friday of last week.
MSPs addressed the crowd and promised strikers and carers their support.
Strikers remain resolute, and have been heartened by the support they have received.
At a mass meeting last week, one striker proposed that workers should immediately end their strike and return to work. After a lively debate, his motion was voted down with just three in favour and approximately 200 against.
Glasgow council has always been clear that it would use equal pay settlements as an excuse for “service redesign”.
Many workers across the council are also losing faith in the workforce pay and benefits review process, with delays, appeals and uncertainty mounting.
The council is refusing even to share its projected timescales with Unison.
Other groups of workers in Glasgow are facing attacks.
Janitors and IT workers are facing privatisation, and social care workers have still not received the final settlement from their strike which ended in August.
What is necessary now is to bring all those fights together and step up the pressure on the council.
We need more demonstrations, lobbies, delegation work, collections, and we need to consider widening the action.
Protests are planned for this week on Thursday at 1pm, outside the council chambers, George Square and Saturday 17 November at 11am, St Enoch’s Square.