Socialist Worker

Reports round-up—protests across Scotland against council cuts

Issue No. 2643

No more cuts say Edinburgh protesters

No more cuts say Edinburgh protesters (Pic: Unison City of Edinburgh)

Protests took place last week as Edinburgh council passed £30 million cuts.

No party controls the council, but the leader is from the Scottish National Party.

Unison union Edinburgh branch spokesperson John Stevenson said, “These cuts come on top of the loss of 1,000 jobs and the threat of hundreds more as the council faces an additional shortfall of £98 million in the next few years. “We call on councillors to defend local services, challenge the Scottish government for more funds and not just administer cuts”

Edinburgh Unison lead negotiator Tom Connolly said, “The government must stop handing down austerity to councils.”

Protesters gathered outside Glasgow city hall last Thursday as the Scottish National Party (SNP)-led council passed £22 million in cuts plus a 3 percent rise in the council tax.

Unions, including Unison and the GMB, met before the meeting to call for a one-year no cuts budget.

Brian Smith, branch secretary of Glasgow City Unison, said, “We’ve had ten years of austerity now.

“Services are getting poorer, communities are suffering.

“We’re looking for the councillors to fight back.

“We’ve argued that they have the mechanisms under their control to set a one year no cuts budget.”

Members of the Save Whitehill Pool campaign also gathered before the meeting. Campaigner Deborah Hamilton said, “We’d planned to be here today because initially we thought our pool was on the list for closure.

“We’ve been told by the SNP that they would not put our pool forward for cuts.

“We’re not just wanting our pool to stay this year, we’re wanting it for years to come.”

Secondary school students staged protests and walkouts at several schools in Argyll and Bute last week over plans to cut services for young people.

Strikes took place at six schools for 15 minutes after break time on Wednesday of last week.

Housing campaigners have forced the Peabody housing association to back down from selling a house this week. They staged a “people’s viewing” of a housing association home in Tower Hamlets, east London, on Monday.

Peabody had said it wanted to sell it off because it would cost too much to refurbish it before renting it out.

Activists were shown around the house on Monday morning, and were shocked to see hardly any work needed to be done.

“They’re selling this house off for £730,000,” said housing campaigner Glyn Robbins.

The next day it was withdrawn from sale.

Campaigners pressured Tower Hamlets Labour mayor John Biggs to write to Peabody about the sell-off.

Two more Peabody homes that had been set to be auctioned off have been taken down from the auction website since recent protests.

Bosses have tested workers’ patience

Workers at the Scottish Qualifications Authority schools exam board could be headed for strikes over managements’ attempts to restructure their workplace.

Hundreds of Unite union members have returned a 96 percent vote of no confidence in the management on an 84 percent turnout.

The restructuring process has left some of the workers without specific job roles. It’s the third time bosses have attempted to restructure since 2013.

Workers are also angry about an internal grievance process where names of individual trade unionists were leaked.

Alison Maclean, Unite regional industrial officer, said, “In our opinion, the workforce is being harassed and intimidated by the actions of senior management. They are attempting to deflect from their own mismanagement.”

Sacked cleaner wins at tribunal

An employment tribunal has found that a cleaner sacked by the high street Topshop store on Oxford Street in London was unfairly dismissed.

Maria Susana Benavidez Guaman could be entitled to as much as £75,000 in compensation after Judge David Pearl’s ruling.

Fight to save rail depot in Glasgow

Rail workers protested outside Edinburgh Waverley train station and the Scottish parliament last week over plans to close Springburn rail depot.

RMT union members are fighting to save 200 jobs at the ScotRail maintenance depot in Glasgow.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, called the plans “an act of industrial vandalism” and “another example of the fragmentation of the privatised rail industry”.

Offshore workers vote for strikes

Over 200 offshore oil workers in the North Sea have returned huge votes for strikes over changes to shift rotations and terms and conditions.

Bosses at oil firms Aker and Petrofac want workers to work three weeks on the rig, and three or four weeks off.

The Unite union members currently operate on a two weeks on, two weeks off shift pattern.

The action is set to hit Elgin-Franklin, Shetland Gas Plant, North Alwyn and Dunbar platforms.

All returned votes of over 88 percent for action.

660 care workers fight for an alternative future

Up to 660 care workers are set to strike on Saturday and Sunday of this week to defend their pay.

The Unison union members work for Alternative Futures Group (AFG), which wants to slash their overnight pay.

Bosses are able to carry out these attacks because of a High Court ruling. It said care workers could be paid a flat rate for overnight work, rather than an hourly minimum wage.

Workers are set to lose up to £2,000 under the plans, and could earn just £40 for a nine-hour shift.

A ballot for strikes returned a result of 87percent for action.

The strikes will hit workplaces across the north west of England. AFG bosses are blaming “insufficient funding” from local authorities for its commission services.

It also said it would attempt legal action to block the strikes. But Unison say AFG is getting the same level of funding from councils.

Workers should resist any attempts to chip away at their pay in the name of Tory spending cuts and austerity.

Join strike rallies on 2 March Liverpool—1pm, StGeorge’s Hall steps, LJ 1JJ. Burnley—11am, St James Street, BB11. Rochdale—10am, Peace Garden, The Esplanade, OL16 1AB. Tameside—10am, Ashton Town Hall, OL6 6DL

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Tue 26 Feb 2019, 14:40 GMT
Issue No. 2643
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