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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 November 2006

Glasgow council workers prepare to strike

UNISON MEMBERS in Glasgow Council have voted 2:1 in favour of strike action. They want to force the city's Labour leaders to back down over the threatened pay cuts to 4,500 low and middle-earning workers as part of a poorly funded equal pay review. 66% voted to stand by this minority of the workforce who face cuts of up to 5,000 in just two year's time.

Brian Smith, secretary for Glasgow UNISON Social Work Services, personal capacity

The UNISON branch has called three days of all-out strike action on 5-7 December, backed up by selective action.

The result shows that huge numbers of the so-called "winners" saw through the council's divide-and-rule tactics and rejected the council's offer of a back-dated payment in December - in effect a bribe just before Christmas - and chose to show solidarity with their fellow workers.

The strike action will see almost 11,000 workers called out and will have a massive impact on council services.

It is unclear whether Steven Purcell, the council leader, will attempt to negotiate a new deal in light of the threatened strike action or will dig in for a battle. Purcell and other leading Labour councillors attempted to cut across the unions by inviting the "losers" to explanatory meetings.

The whole exercise backfired, with the councillors not understanding the services they are responsible for or their employees' jobs. One even suggested that the workers could not read, which led to some walking out in disgust, ripping up their new pay letters on the way out!

The Scottish National Party (SNP) councillors have not publicly opposed the pay cuts in any meaningful way, did not force a vote in the council executive and have gone along with the wholly inadequate pay protection arrangements.

This failure to support ordinary workers is consistent with how they have conducted themselves in Falkirk, having just imposed an equal pay deal on workers in that council. (The trade unions in that council are now also moving to ballot their members for action).

Battles over equal pay implementation are going to be a feature of industrial relations in local government over the next year or so. The SNP better choose whose side they are going to be on. CWI members played a key role in arguing the case for action in Glasgow and will now be working to secure a positive outcome for all members in what could become a bitter dispute. This may also have implications for how the trade unions approach equal pay issues elsewhere in Scotland, England and Wales.

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In The Socialist 29 November 2006:

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Socialism 2006 - an unmissable event!

Finance appeal - 30,873.44!

Workplace news and analysis

Vote 'yes' for national strike action

Fighting and striking, on all fronts

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