Socialist Worker

Glasgow council janitors sweep to victory after long fight for ‘dirty money’

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2567

Workers celebrating on Monday

Workers celebrating on Monday (Pic: Glasgow City Unison)


Glasgow janitors have won their long-running pay battle against the city council.

The Unison union members voted by 90 percent today, Monday, to accept a new deal equivalent to a 6 percent pay rise.

It ends their 20-month dispute with council-owned firm Cordia that saw 67 strike days and a 20 percent rise in union membership.

Janitor Steven told Socialist Worker, “It’s a fantastic result for us. It basically means less hours for more money.

“There are some extra duties but many that we were already doing, so there’s very little pain.

“We set out demanding an extra £500 and ended up with £1,200. It just shows you what you can do if you stick together.”

The dispute was sparked in January 2016 when Cordia said the janitors should not receive £500 “dirty money” for duties that are dirty, unpleasant, involve working outside or heavy lifting.

The new deal creates some extra jobs, gives relief janitors a permanent school and others the chance to earn £4,000 a year more for new supervisory roles staged over two years.

It also guarantees the principle of “one janitor, one school” that workers fought for.

Cordia spent tens of thousands of pounds trying to undermine the janitors’ walkouts and upped the ante late last year, announcing a pilot scheme to cut 25 percent of jobs.

Janitors responded with roving mass pickets and the scheme was soon dropped by the then Labour council.

Labour was booted out in May. And the Scottish National Party (SNP) was under huge pressure to meet its election pledge to sort out the dispute in its first 100 days.

That period ended on Monday, the day before the new school term—with the threat of a new two-week walkout from Tuesday if the deal wasn’t accepted.

The janitors’ victory is important and shows that outsourced workers can fight back. The SNP may seek to take credit, but the real lesson is that striking can get real results.


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