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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 June 2013

Scotland: Council workers strike ballot

Brian Smith, Glasgow Unison, personal capacity

During July and August, Scotland's council workers will be balloted by their trade unions on industrial action over the local government employers’ (CoSLA) pay offer of 1% for 2013/14 and the introduction of the Scottish Living Wage (SLW) of £7.50.

Unison and Unite members rejected the offer in consultative ballots earlier in the year and the unions have at last moved up a gear and begun the official industrial action processes.

Both Unison (the largest union) and Unite recommended that their members reject the offer in their consultation ballots, with the GMB advising their members that it was the best which could be achieved through negotiation. At this stage it is unclear whether the GMB will participate in any action.

Council workers have not had a pay rise for two years, with minuscule rises in the years before. The introduction of the SLW is welcome, however the fact that it is to be implemented locally by the 32 councils rather than through a national scheme means that future uplifts are not guaranteed.

Also, some councils may not even consolidate the new rate into basic pay or their grading structure but implement it as a supplement to current pay.

Council workers must now fight back and defend their living standards. The union leaderships must put a clear programme of action before the members to show that the unions are determined to conduct a serious dispute.

Many branch activists across the country know that this is the only way to push the employers into offering an acceptable pay rise.

An initial programme of action over a six-week period starting with a national one-day strike of all Unison local government workers on 5 September, should there be a majority for action, has been agreed. This will be followed by regional action and then another one-day strike.

Glasgow City Unison has proposed a programme of escalating action beginning with a one-day, two-day and then a three-day strike over the six weeks. The unions' claim is for at least £1,000 for each worker - let's fight for it!

Any action would begin in late August or early September and should be coordinated with strike action being taken by other trade unions in the public sector.

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In The Socialist 12 June 2013:

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Socialist Party news and analysis

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Mid Yorks health workers win important concessions

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MoJ privatisation victory + rolling strikes across civil service

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Syria threatens sectarian middle east war

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