OVER 4,500 nursery nurses across Scotland have returned a magnificent 81 percent vote for indefinite strike action to win better pay through regrading. The ballot result, on a 68 percent turnout, comes after a campaign of one-day strikes stretching back to last summer.
'I am so proud of people for delivering such a huge vote,' nursery nurse Maureen Campbell in Edinburgh told Socialist Worker. 'We really need to do something to make the employers sit up and take notice.' The Unison union now has to authorise the action, which is due to begin a week next Monday, 1 March.
The result itself has shocked Cosla, the Scottish local authority employers, who have up to now refused to come to a national pay and regrading agreement. The series of one-day strikes has won support from the majority of parents. 'Now we face a really serious escalation,' says Carol Ball, union convenor of the nursery nurses in Glasgow.
Janice Murphy, a nursery nurse at Holmlea in Glasgow, says, 'We are all delighted with the victory in the vote. Me and my co-workers are sorry for parents that it has come to this but happy to go for all-out strike action if it means that our job will be valued. After all, if we don't win this dispute, a lot of people will leave nursery nursing altogether. I have been 32 years in the profession, with three years intensive training and still learning new skills all the time. My top rate of pay after 32 years is £13,800.'
Donna Borokinni said, 'My daughter Rachel attends Holmlea Nursery Class and I fully support the nursery nurses. I feel they do an invaluable job. It is disgusting how the government seem to have an endless budget for war and they can award themselves huge pay rises but they can't afford to pay the nursery nurses a decent wage. All the parents support the nursery nurses and if we help to build support at the grassroots they will win.'
Arthur Nicoll, services and conditions secretary of the Unison branch in Dundee, says, 'Nursery nurses and their supporters planned to be out in the city centre this Saturday, collecting and petitioning. It's really a tremendous vote. Now it must be matched by tremendous solidarity. It was a real boost when a nursery nurse from east London came up last year and told strikers here about the victory she had been part of after an all-out strike.'
Lots of people across Scotland have been collecting money and messages of support for the nursery nurses. Over £600 was collected from firefighters at a firefighters' union FBU school in Glasgow.
Kev Kiernan collected £275 at the school in just one afternoon. He said, 'Even though they have their own issues and attacks to deal with, the firefighters showed real support for the nursery nurses.'