Social workers in Glasgow have taken unofficial action and won. The Unison union members won the reinstatement of a suspended colleague after three days of defying the anti-union laws with unofficial strikes.
Ten social workers walked out unofficially earlier this month after a boss suspended the worker for refusing to cover the work of vacant posts. The dispute quickly spread to involve the whole of the homeless service of Glasgow city council social work services. Workers unanimously agreed to end the walkout after winning the reinstatement last week.
One striker told Socialist Worker that before the walkout bosses “were paying lip service to negotiations” over workload. “We didn’t know where to look but then we went to the union,” they added. “Now we have a voice.
“What we’ve done is an example to other workers on what to do when things become too much.” The suspension ignited a wider anger about the strain of excessive workloads, and cuts to funding and jobs. The striker said, “We’re fighting for a service for vulnerable homeless people. “But no one was getting a proper service because of the intolerable workloads. “Staff were getting sick with stress.”
These issues fuelled the dispute and also won solidarity from workers across the council workforce. Council bosses are now under pressure to deal with the workload issue. Unison has said, “An official strike ballot will be organised unless management come up with acceptable proposals to manage workloads and increase staffing levels.”
One Glasgow Unison steward said, “Many members now feel emboldened to get the issue of workloads addressed. The walkout has had a big impact. “The union is organising mass meetings of all members in social work to discuss the way forward.” Glasgow social workers have shown how to take on the bosses and win.