Socialist Worker

Solidarity is boosting Glasgow homelessness caseworkers on all-out strike

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2447

Workers and supporters rally outside the council

Workers and supporters rally outside the council earlier this week (Pic: Duncan Brown )

The indefinite strike of homelessness caseworkers in Glasgow is going strong – and growing solidarity is making them more determined to win.

“We’re getting messages in from all over Britain and beyond,” Unison union rep Stuart said. “We’re really motivated and up for this.”

The workers are in dispute with the Labour-run council bosses over pay grading. Fiona, a striker from the south of the city, told Socialist Worker, “We’ve exhausted the grievance procedures, so were left with no choice but to strike.”

Some 70 Unison  members, out of a team of 75 workers, walked out on Tuesday of this week demanding council bosses recognise the job they do. They want to be graded the same as other workers with the same responsibilities.

Only management believe their grade is “appropriate”.

Fiona said, “Social work colleagues are horrified to learn we are a grade below them. We manage huge caseloads but the work we do is not being acknowledged.”

The difference between the grades is up to £5,000 a year. “They’ve got away with it for far too long – but no more,” said Fiona.

Daily picket lines have been extremely well supported – one was so noisy police turned up after a complaint was made. The strike committee thanked “all our CWU trade union colleagues, who have refused to cross our picket lines”.


Around 120 strikers and their supporters rallied outside the council’s headquarters this afternoon, Thursday. Homelessness charity Shelter Scotland workers joined them and said were organising a workplace collection.

One former service user also addressed the crowd. He said, “I was a dead man walking and probably wouldn’t be here today if it were not for these workers – victory to your strike.”

A skeleton staff of just 12 team leaders and 5 workers, who are not part of the Unison dispute, are left to provide a service. It deals with 3,000 homeless cases at any one time.

Stuart asked, “If there’s no statutory service in place and a household needs to access the service, who is taking responsibility for that?”

There are reports of people being told to phone back next week to access the service. Senior managers have been drafted in to cope and team leaders are being instructed to do work they normally wouldn’t do.

After the bank holiday weekend the service will be under extra strain.

Bosses have still made no approach to the union since the walkout began. But workers know they are in for the long haul and are prepared to keep fighting.

As Fiona said, “It’s not unreasonable to want to be paid for the work you do.”

She also said the solidarity strikers have received is boosting them. “It’s great to feel we are not alone – it strengthens our resolve.”

Strikers will be speaking at the Social Work Action Network Tenth Annual Conference this weekend in Paisley

See Glasgow Homeless Caseworkers Strike on Facebook
To request a striker to speak at your union branch or campaign meeting and send messages of support to
Strike fund donations to Glasgow City Unison, 84 Bell St, Glasgow, G1 1LQ

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