Socialist Worker

Glasgow strike is strong

by Penny Howard
Issue No. 2080

Glasgow day centre workers entered their eighth week of strike action as united and determined as ever.

The workers, members of the Unison union, are striking against the council’s plans to downgrade and deskill the workforce, close centres and lay off workers.

At the social work Unison Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday of last week, many strikers and other stewards argued that the several thousand workers in the social work department should be balloted for strike action.

One striker argued, “We are grateful for the donations we have received, but if we are going to win we need more than that. We need the rest of the social work department to support us.”

A motion for a strike ballot has been discussed at workplace meetings, and a decision was due to be made at a stewards’ meeting on Tuesday after Socialist Worker went to press.

Just discussing the motion for strike action has made an immediate impact on the council.

In negotiations with the union on the day after the AGM, council officials sat at the table with a copy of the motion in front of them. It was the first meeting for negotiations since the strike began, and another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday of this week.

At the regular mass meeting of strikers on Friday of last week, Unison officials outlined three options.

They said that strikers could continue as they are, go back to work, or “look for support from the rest of the social work department”. At this point, the room erupted in cheers.

Strikers then made plans to visit all social work workplaces on Monday and Tuesday to ask fellow workers to support the strike ballot.

At workplaces on Monday morning, there was widespread support for a strike ballot. Workers want to strike not only to support day centre workers, but because they are all frustrated with the “pay and benefits review” agreed with the council in December 2006.

One worker on the homelessness team argued, “I am angry. We are in detriment too and we should be out on strike with the day centre workers. We all need to go out together.

“We should not have small groups of workers striking one after the other.”

Over 200 people packed into a meeting hosted by Unison for carers and service users on Wednesday of last week. The meeting discussed the carers’ frustrations with the consultations on the “service reforms” the council wants to push through, and which most carers oppose.

The meeting was followed by a march to the council chambers, and carers occupied the lobby of the chambers until the director of social work and two councillors came to meet them.

Solidarity is also growing.Glasgow and Clyde health branch of Unison has donated £10,000 to the strikers.

Strikers have recently been to London to address workers in Unison branches in Tower Hamlets, east London, and in the London fire brigade.

They also did a collection at the World Against War conference in London. and reported, “It was really good to get the big picture,” they reported.

The Glasgow strike is on the sharp edge of the single status negotiations that affect every council worker in Britain.

It is a strike against councils using equal pay legislation as an excuse for cutbacks, and against governments that refuse to properly fund the legislation.

Strikers Sobia and Janette say, “Our advice to other workers is to act quicker and to act sooner. You need to act at a stage when everyone is involved so people aren’t left to fight in isolated groups.”

Send donations and messages of support to Unison, Fourth Floor, 18 Albion St, Glasgow G2 4PF


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Tue 4 Dec 2007, 18:35 GMT
Issue No. 2080
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