THOUSANDS OF nursery nurses across Scotland were taking strike action this week. They began a strike, set to last five days, on Monday of this week. The action, called by the Unison public sector workers' union, was part of the Scottish nursery nurses' ongoing fight against low pay, which has so far lasted for six months.
They are demanding between £17,340 and £21,732 a year. Currently a nursery nurse with ten years experience earns a maximum of £13,800. The action affected nurseries in several councils including Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire , West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, Dundee and Falkirk. They also planned a lobby of Glasgow City Council. The strike came in response to the latest offer by Cosla, the council bosses' organisation.
They put forward a proposal to Scottish councils that would lead to regional pay bargaining. Unison official Angela Lynes argued, 'The reality of the employers' proposal is that it isn't an offer at all. It is merely a recommendation that no council has to adopt. Even if they did it would still leave the vast majority of nursery nurses earning less than £15,000 per year. Cosla are now refusing to discuss the issue any further and trying to wriggle out of their responsibilities. Nursery nurses are currently paid on a Scottish grade. They have submitted and discussed with Cosla a Scottish claim and they deserve a Scottish settlement. Most of the increases in duties that nursery nurses have undertaken stem from Scotland-wide directives. The employers know all this, but seem happy to provoke more action and increase the misery for children and parents.'
Nursery nurses know the Cosla proposal would lead to divide and rule. Already one local authority, South Lanarkshire, has struck a local deal to end the strike in that area. This will only undermine the unity of nursery nurses. There are questions about the strategy of the strike. This week's strike is an escalation in action.
But, after six months of selective action, demonstrations and lobbies, Unison should be looking to lead an all-out strike. All-out strike action won for nursery nurses in Tower Hamlets-it can win for them in Scotland.