Socialist Worker

Joint action on the cards at Glasgow City Council

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2497

CCTV workers in Glasgow strike earlier in March

CCTV workers in Glasgow strike earlier in March (Pic: Duncan Brown )


Over 6,000 trade union members working for Glasgow City Council are balloting for strikes against the latest cuts driven through by the Labour-run administration.

Council bosses want to drive down conditions for every worker. They plan to slash £130 million and 1,500 posts in the next two years.

The council wants reduced public holidays, new restrictions on flexi-leave and cuts to annual leave for new starters.

Workers in the Unison, GMB and Unite unions could all take coordinated industrial action if ballots over the next month return votes for strikes. This is very likely.

A consultative ballot of 1,000 GMB members, including refuse and parks staff, saw a 95 percent vote for strikes.

Unison is balloting 1,200 residential care staff for strikes over the next month, and is to consult another 4,000 members across the council over walkouts.

Two live disputes by CCTV workers and school janitors are growing in strength. Both are employed by council-owned firms and are fighting for the same conditions as directly employed council staff.

CCTV workers were set to strike again from 7am on Friday until 7pm on Monday. This is to be followed by similar 84-hour strikes every weekend until 2 May. Janitors were expected to call more action soon.

Workers at the council have previously shown that strikes can win real gains and defend services facing cuts.

Divisions

Resistance from the unions has caused divisions among Labour councillors in Glasgow.

They face the prospect of losing control of the council for the first time in decades at local authority elections in May 2017.

Now some in Labour are turning their minds to survival.

At last month’s budget-setting meeting all the parties proposed variations on each other’s cuts.

But some within the Labour group were arguing for a no-cuts budget which unions have campaigned for.

However, in the end Labour councillors backed the cuts package.

Councils across Scotland are wielding the axe after the “anti-austerity” Scottish National Party (SNP) government slashed £500 million from Scottish council budgets this year.

SNP finance minister John Swinney claimed his funding cut will have a “minimal impact on jobs or services”. His claim echoed the Westminster Tories he blames for his party’s austerity policies.

Some 15,000 local government jobs are under threat. And 40,000 have already gone under the SNP.

New figures last week showed that public sector pay during the last Scottish parliament had plummeted 10 percent in real terms.

It is increasingly clear that neither Labour nor the SNP offers a real alternative to austerity, with the Holyrood elections debate dominated by tax. Collective resistance from workers and those who use services is the real hope.


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