Socialist Worker

Fighting to defend jobs and refugees in Glasgow

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2244

Workers at the Glasgow Asylum Support Project are continuing their battle against privatisation that will affect the lives of hundreds of asylum seekers.

The workers are balloting for a strike, and they lobbied the Scottish Labour Party conference last Saturday.

Labour controls Glasgow council. Workers want them to stop their transfer out of the public sector.

But if it is to go ahead they are demanding that their working conditions should be guaranteed.

A Unison union steward, said, “We’ve a huge amount of service with the council and have shown loyalty over the years. Now its time for the council to repay our loyalty.”

The UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) privatisation plan will also disrupt housing for 1,300 asylum seekers.

But UKBA has decided that the existing service is not value for money.

The move to privatise the service has nothing to do with providing a better service for people in need.

It is about defining the efficiency of a service by whether it is profitable.

Margaret Woods from the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees told Socialist Worker, “I am opposed to all cuts—and these are cuts, rather than a simple reorganisation.

“They will hit an extraordinarily vulnerable group of people and make their lives more uncertain.”


The UKBA sent out a letter in January to more than 600 asylum seeking families saying that when it took place they should be prepared to move out of their homes at three days notice.

It has since apologised but not withdrawn the plans.

YPeople has won the contract. It has recently expanded into housing for refugees and asylum seekers.

The council is transferring 34 council workers, along with another ten from City Building, the council’s “arms length” construction company to YPeople.

It was supposed to transfer the staff on 2 February, but put the date back to 3 April because negotiations were continuing.

There is still no agreement less than two weeks before the revised date.

The hold up is over Tupe conditions—the agreement that should mean workers have the same terms and conditions after the transfer as when they were working for the council.

A Unison member told Socialist Worker, “The danger is that you can be Tuped on Sunday and out of a job on Monday.”


So the union is demanding that YPeople also agree the conditions with Unison.

YPeople however only has the contract until 2012, and it has said that immediate redundancies are “a likelihood” before then.

And it has yet to show how it will maintain workers’ pension provision.

Union members are set to increase the pressure on Glasgow council when the result of a strike ballot of asylum support workers is announced on Thursday.

This is a struggle that combines the fight of people defending their jobs and asylum seekers who desperately need a decent service.

They need to fight together against the government’s brutal and ideological cuts.

Send messages of support to Unison Glasgow City branch, 18 Albion Street, Glasgow. Phone 0141 552 7069 or email

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Article information

Tue 22 Mar 2011, 17:18 GMT
Issue No. 2244
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