Socialist Worker

Glasgow and Edinburgh council disputes

Issue No. 2164

Danny Tervit, a street sweeper at Glasgow city council and a former deputy shop steward at the Bell Street depot, was sacked on Friday of last week and given notice for 3 September—as Glasgow street cleansing workers were preparing to strike.

The planned strike, called by the Unison, Unite and GMB unions, was due to start on Monday of this week.

But it has been cancelled while workers consider a new offer which still attacks the shift patterns of the workers.

Danny spoke to Socialist Worker about the situation.

“There are about 100 men working at Bell Street and I’ve been 15 years on the job,” he said.

“To be honest with you the dispute has moved away from the initial argument about overtime restriction and the new shift pattern into a dispute about money.”

Many workers rely on overtime payments at the Saturday rate of £9 per hour to supplement their basic take home pay of just £6 per hour or £240 for a 37-hour week.

The other main change was from a current 5-day working week to a 4-day week with longer shift times.

Danny is critical of the role of the union leadership in the dispute. “I’ve not seen anything from the union—and this strike was due to start on Monday,” he said.

He added that workers had voted for action ten weeks ago, yet the unions had failed to name any strike dates for weeks.

“The union leaders are trying to make deals on issues that members haven’t asked for.

“But who are they? They only represent themselves—not the men who pay the £2 membership every week.”

Danny says that attacks on workers’ conditions are part of the Labour council’s preparations for

privatisation of services.

“Labour councillors have sold every manual worker and every voter down the river,” he said. “It’s become the Labour Posh Party.

“And we’ve heard nothing from the Scottish National Party. This is the first time it has not tried to make political capital out of a dispute.

“I think the whole country should come out on strike and bring it to a standstill. We should stop voting for them as well.

“A work to rule isn’t likely to succeed because so many guys depend on overtime.

“We cannot be half-hearted with one or two-day actions—we’ve got to hit them where it hurts. We’ve got to go all out.”

Graham Campbell

Refuse workers in the Unite union at Edinburgh council have overwhelmingly voted to reject a deal that would have ended their seven week work-to-rule.

The action was sparked by council plans to impose a new wage structure which could have left some workers £6,000 worse off.

The planned changes are part of Edinburgh council’s “single status” plan.

Unite reps met city councillors and negotiated a deal that proposed raising the basic pay from £12,234 to £15,986—but removed the current bonus of up to £6,729 for full attendance.

This would have left most workers £3,000 worse off and having to take on a range of new responsiblities.

The council says that some of this money can be made up by a shift allowance, but refuse collectors are day workers and therefore not eligible for a shift allowance.

The council gave the impression that the offer was a done deal before the union had a chance to offer it to its members. But members still rejected it.

The work to rule has involved meticulously carrying out all contractual duties.

But the council has sent out letters to workers threatening to withhold pay or send them home over what it calls “partial performance” of their jobs.

If there is no progress in further talks then all manual workers at Edinburgh council could be involved in the next round of industrial action.

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Article information

Tue 11 Aug 2009, 18:46 BST
Issue No. 2164
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