Care workers in Glasgow City Council’s residential homes struck for 48 hours on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The Unison union members came out for the second time in a fortnight to resist pay cuts of up to £1,495 a year.
They are also opposing council bosses’ imposition of new job roles and changes to shift patterns. A noisy 100-strong rally of strikers protested outside the council’s headquarters on Tuesday.
One senior Unison residential steward told Socialist Worker, “The strike is getting stronger and we’re being overwhelmed by all the solidarity messages we’ve received.
“Managers are struggling badly to cover the work. Some are furious that they’re having to do 12 hour shifts.”
But workers are angry at council bosses’ imposed changes.
Striker Gemma told Socialist Worker, “It’s the principle of it. We used to do ten and a half hours with a paid break, now it’s 12 and a half hours without a paid break.
“What’s changed during the night—why can’t they pay us for our breaks? The new shift system is crap.”
This means some workers are now doing 108 hours over a fortnight.
Another striker Jasminder added, “Our workloads have increased. We come in at 8pm now instead of 10pm. That means instead of doing two medication and two meal rounds, we’re now doing three of each.
“I’ve worked night shifts for many many years—these changes are going to be detrimental to our health.”
Unison argues the staff to resident ratio on the new night shift is inadequate and that the council has tried to bully workers into agreeing to the changes on an individual basis.
Council bosses also want to alter the job roles of the lowest paid to include administering medicines. But Gemma said those workers “aren’t being trained properly to do that”.
The changes damage the care provided to elderly people in the residential homes—but they have a wider impact too.
Another striker, Isa, said, “You build so much of your life around your shifts and now they’ve just ripped that up. Some of us will see our kids less now because we can’t take them to school in the morning.
“And this affects our children’s lives too because some of us help out by looking after our grandchildren.”
Many people will have sympathy with the strikers who are standing up to these attacks and showing how to take on the bosses.
The issues are the same that triggered an unofficial walkout last year by homeless casework teams, and the recent pupil support assistants’ strike.
Those strikes beat back council bosses—that’s how the residential care workers can win too.
Across Glasgow, and the rest of Britain, people are suffering the effects of Tory austerity—increased workloads, pay cuts, and the savage attack on public services.
Jasminder said, “The council have made a mess of their finances and now they’re making us pay for it.
“We really need to escalate and strike for a full week. Some might worry about losing money but that’s why the solidarity has been so important. It lifts us.”
Workers’ names have been changed to protect their identities.
Send solidarity donations and messages of support to Glasgow City Unison, 84 Bell Street, Glasgow G1 1LQ and firstname.lastname@example.org