More than 120 delegates from Unison local government branches across Scotland met in Glasgow last week to discuss the way forward for their pay campaign.
Regional officer Dougie Black told the meeting that the all-out strike on 20 August had been a tremendous success, with massive support from members and positive media coverage.
He explained that the strike had forced the employers to re‑open talks and concede that the current rate of inflation should be taken into account in this year’s settlement.
However, in the first meeting following the dispute, employers’ representatives said that any increase in the offer would only be in tenths of a percent.
In the second meeting they said there would be no increase on the previous offer of 2.5 percent at all.
Their only significant concession was to limit the pay deal to a single year instead of three.
Instead the employers suggested that they and the unions should jointly approach the Scottish government to ask for more money and also set up a joint working party on low pay.
Dougie Black said that the Unison, Unite and the GMB unions had unanimously rejected the employer’s approach, which he described as “disingenuous”.
Two motions were then put to the delegates to chart the next steps of the campaign.
The first was from the Scottish local government committee and called for a further day of all-out action on Wednesday 24 September.
This will be followed in October by two waves of Scotland-wide selective strike action on full pay, and after that a third wave of selective action organised by branches locally.
Additional days of all-out strike action might also be considered.
An opposing motion from Glasgow called for two days of all-out action to be named in September, followed by a further three in October.
It also called for exemptions to provide life and limb cover to be limited to members in residential care.
In the debate supporters of the Glasgow motion questioned the effectiveness of selective action, while those supporting the motion from the local government committee doubted whether members would come out for another five days without strike pay.
However all the speakers in the debate agreed that members were angry and there was a mood for a fight.
Unfortunately, the Glasgow motion was defeated so that the emphasis will now switch to selective strikes.
Time will tell if this strategy will be hard hitting enough to make the employers give in. But it is vital that all activists make this action as successful as possible.
We must aim to repeat the vibrancy of last month’s picket lines on the day of all-out strike and ensure that on the days of selective action there are more marches and rallies.
These can involve workers who are not strike showing their support for those who are.