Homelessness caseworkers in Glasgow walked out on indefinite strike on Tuesday of this week in a row over pay grading with city council bosses.
All 70 Unison union members formed solid picket lines at four sites across the city.
Some 90 strikers and supporters joined a lobby of the council.
The workers deal with vulnerable people coping with issues such as addiction, mental health problems and housing.
“We’re the last safety net before someone ends up on the street,” Unison union rep Stuart told Socialist Worker.
A council spokesperson has claimed all that the workers do is “arrange accommodation” and “are graded at an appropriate level”.
But as Stuart pointed out, “Some people come to us with complex needs and stay with us because they don’t qualify or fit criteria for other services.
“At any one time we’re dealing with 3,000 homeless cases across the city. We carry the same responsibilities as other social care sectors.”
Workers are a grade below those doing similar work on the social work pay scale. Some are paid up to £5,000 a year less.
Stuart said, “Colleagues are astonished we are on a lower grade to them. Management say we don’t do a ‘care management’ job, and are not capable of doing that because we are not on that grade—you couldn’t make it up.
“Three quarters of us are women. This is a fight for wage equality.”
Strikers have worked to rule for the last eight weeks and refused duties they aren’t paid for.
Then they voted to go all out.
As one striker at the Barlanark site told Socialist Worker, “We’re absolutely sick and tired and have tried everything to sort this out.”
Workers know strikes can get results. In 2013 they struck unofficially, defying the anti-union laws for three days, and won the reinstatement of a sacked colleague.
The strain of excessive workloads, and cuts to funding and jobs, fuelled the walkout. That anger still rumbles away.
The strikers are determined to win and will need solidarity.
As Stuart put it, “We’re not going back to work until they regrade us.”