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Reports round-up: Anger grows over pay and cuts in Scotland

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Issue 2600
Around 250 people rallied in solidarity with Catalonia in Glasgow last Saturday. The protest called for the release of all political prisoners and an end to repression. It was organised by Catalan Defence Committee Scotland and supported by Unison Scotland. Protests also took place in London and in Barcelona—where 300,000 took part.
Around 250 people rallied in solidarity with Catalonia in Glasgow last Saturday. The protest called for the release of all political prisoners and an end to repression. It was organised by Catalan Defence Committee Scotland and supported by Unison Scotland. Protests also took place in London and in Barcelona—where 300,000 took part. (Pic: Raymie Kiernan)

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon was under pressure to stump up more money for public sector workers as she addressed the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) on Monday.

Union leaders have called for pay rises to start restoring cuts to workers’ living standards.

Ahead of the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader’s appearance GMB union officials were warning of a summer of bin strikes to demand an increase to a below inflation 3 percent pay offer.

The main Scottish teachers’ union, EIS, is also threatening action after teachers rejected an offer that falls far short of their 10 percent claim.

In the pay debate EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan talked of the lessons of the further education college lecturers’ strikes last year, which showed how to win a pay rise.

He urged unions to work together over pay.

Sturgeon’s only defence is to say that although workers are still getting rises below inflation—pay cuts—at least her government was the first to break the 1 percent pay cap.

Low paid workers can take no comfort in that.

Miraculously, the SNP-led West Dunbartonshire council managed to reverse its decision to attack union convenors’ facility time just minutes before Sturgeon’s speech.

The STUC general council condemned the recent airstrikes on Syria.

Delegates were set to discuss the Spanish state’s attacks on human rights in Catalonia.

Whether pro or anti independence, trade unions need to step up solidarity against the repression.

NHS workers say they won’t be border guards

Delegates at the Unison union health conference in Brighton unanimously voted on Monday to reject attempts to force health workers to check patients’ passports. This is part of the drive to restrict access to the NHS for some migrants.

Karen Buckley from Greater Manchester Mental Health branch moved the motion. “This government is attempting to blame the small number of migrants who use NHS care,” she said.

“They like to say that ‘health tourism’ costs £200 million and conveniently for the Tories it has become a key problem for the NHS.

“They fail to point out that over a hundred times more has been taken from NHS budgets in austerity.”

Health workers’ anger and frustration at working in an underfunded NHS ran through the conference.

Sam Hemraj from the Unison health service group executive told the story of her son. “He tried to commit suicide three times in the space of the month,” she said. “It took over a month to get mental health treatment that he so desperately required.”

But there is a glaring gap between workers’ anger at the Tories—and the lead given by the Unison leadership.

It is good they are backing the Health Campaigns Together demonstration on 30 June to mark the NHS’s 70th anniversary

But there is also a sense that the top of the union is waiting for a Labour government after the next general election. The NHS can’t wait for a change of government—saving it requires a fight now.

Tomáš Tengely-Evans

Unison Kirklees fight back

Two strike ballots are set to begin next week in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.

After a long running dispute over allegations of bullying and racism the Unison union has finally agreed to ballot its members working in refuse collection for Kirklees council.

The second ballot is at Kirklees College which is planning redundancies, cuts to terms and conditions and cuts to pay and working hours in response to a financial crisis.

Here Unison members are being balloted for strikes to stop any compulsory redundancies, cuts to terms and conditions and to pay.

  • Messages of support to Kirklees Unison, 4 New North Parade, Huddersfield, HD1 5JP or phone 01484 511826.

Nick Ruff Kirklees Unison Branch Chair (pc)

Bus drivers put brakes on action

Aberdeen bus drivers have accepted First Bus bosses’ latest offer, calling off an indefinite strike.

Some 250 Unite union members were due to walk out on Wednesday of last week, but panicking management made a last ditch attempt to stop the strike.

The workers voted by 60 percent to accept the offer, which Unite says contains “considerable concessions” compared to bosses’ original proposals.

But in posts on social media some drivers expressed resentment at a deal where some drivers would only get a 25p an hour pay rise.

The threat of an indefinite strikes brought the bosses to the negotiating table—actually doing it could have won more.

Strikes on London Underground and DLR

London Underground drivers struck at Acton Town depot for 24 hours last Friday in a dispute over fair treatment of workers.

The Aslef train drivers’ union members walked out because they say the company has failed to adhere to agreed policy on dealing with signals passed at danger incidents.

The action follows a 98 percent vote to strike. Workers at the Earls Court depot, also on the District line, are being balloted for action.

  • Workers on the Docklands Light Railway were to strike from Friday of this week to Tuesday next week in a long-running battle over outsourcing, conditions, rotas and payroll errors.
  • Workers at Prestwick airport are voting on strikes over pay. This follows a breakdown in talks between airport management and the Prospect union. Bosses offered a 2 percent pay rise. The workers want 3 percent, the same as other Scottish government workers.

New McStrikes are coming on May Day

Workers at five McDonald’s restaurants have voted for strikes. They are scheduled for Tuesday 1 May.

Workers, who are in the Bfawu union, are striking for £10 an hour, union recognition and an end to lower pay for young workers. The stores are in Watford, Crayford, Cambridge and Manchester.

Two workers were suspended for a week from the Manchester store in an attempt to put people off striking. That move had little effect as workers delivered a 95.2 percent vote for strikes.

London fundraiser with John McDonnell on Friday 20 April. Go to

TGI strike day over tips and low wages

Workers in the Unite union at food chain TGI Fridays are voting on strikes.

The workers at stores in Milton Keynes and Covent Garden in London are in dispute over tip distribution and breaches to minimum wage law.

Get British Museum staff back in house

Privatised workers at the British Museum were set to protest on Wednesday, demanding bosses bring them in house after the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion.

Carillion’s collapse earlier this year left them with no guarantees for their jobs, conditions or future.

The workers’ PCS union wants the British Museum to employ them directly.

Petition at

Chorus of revolt at Royal Opera House

Security staff at the Royal Opera House in London are balloting for action over decent pay, with plans to start strikes in the summer. The 30 workers, members of the Unite union, are fighting for a minimum 2 percent pay rise and £1,000 lump sum.

University allowed homophobic abuse

A worker at the London School of Economics who received homophobic abuse has won an employment tribunal. The tribunal found that a culture which accepted homophobic abuse existed at the university.

Campaign to sign against fuel poverty

Campaign group Fuel Poverty Action has initiated a petition demanding the Tories make money available for essential safety work.

It also calls for extra help for those facing high bills and people with accommodation in need of damp treatments.

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