All out indefinite strike action by Glasgow City Council Homeless Service workers started yesterday. Seventy workers walked out in a dispute with Glasgow’s Labour council over their pay grade – the application of the council’s job evaluation scheme to the role of homelessness caseworkers.
Picket lines all over the city were well attended with only a handful of staff choosing to not participate in the strike. A rally of 150, with support from other council workers, service-users and Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) activists made a loud presence, marching around the council offices with “Fair Pay Now” placards. The rallies and pickets were covered on Radio Clyde and on TV.
The union, Unison, is highlighting that these workers have been treated unfairly by the council for years. Their jobs should have been graded the same as other frontline staff in addiction services or older people’s teams. A picket, Chris, commented: “We have tried negotiation with the council and have been forced to take this action by the council’s ruthless cost-cutting agenda that ignores the high quality and vital service we provide. This is real sacrifice we are making going all out indefinitely but we have to show them we won’t back down over this!”
Majority women strikers
Three out of every four strikers are women. One female picket spoke to The Socialist: “Overall we’ve got thousands of desperate people on our caseloads in an emergency situation. Why can’t they pay us fairly? I’m angry that management have said all we do is find people accommodation, it’s an insult to the job we do”
The rally was addressed by striking homeless workers, service-users’ campaigns and Ian Leech, Social Work Convenor of Glasgow City Unison and Socialist Party Scotland member, who congratulated members on the solid nature of the strike and said; “I’ve even heard this morning from one manager that some of them agree with the union’s case. Also this isn’t the first time workers in this branch have been protesting outside the council and forced to go on strike because of unfair treatment over pay and conditions. The councillors know which grade you are supposed to be on, but this is about their cuts agenda. We need to keep the strike solid everyday. The union is 100% behind you. If we do that we can win”.
As well as daily pickets at the workplaces in Gorbals, Tradeston,Possil and Barlanark, workers are rallying again on Thursday at the City Chambers during a full council meeting.
Send messages of support to Ian Leech, UNISON Glasgow Branch, 07803 952262 or Brian Smith, UNISON Glasgow Branch, 07870 914361 or Branch Office, 0141 552 7069