Glasgow janitors, after an industrial action campaign lasting almost two years, have won an inspiring victory.
The members of public service union Unison are employed by outsourcing ‘arm’s-length external organisation’ Cordia for the council. They have won all their demands, including raises of over £1,000, a guarantee of one janitor per school, and extra jobs (full details at socialistpartyscotland.org.uk).
This proves yet again that workers can win if they take determined action alongside a leadership like Glasgow City Unison which is prepared to fight.
Socialist Party Scotland and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition supported the janitors’ action throughout. Well done, the Glasgow school janitors! You won #Justice4Jannies!
The Unison branch reports:
In January 2016 Unison members began a boycott of all heavy lifting, outside and dirty duties. In March 2016 strike action began and the janitors took 67 strike days in blocks of three, five and then ten days.
Mass meetings of all members took place on a regular basis with the janitors debating and voting on all key aspects of strategy and tactics. The branch’s strike fund, and donations from across the trade union movement, supported the action.
The janitors engaged in numerous loud and colourful protests outside the city chambers and Cordia HQ, and in Glasgow city centre. They highlighted their case on social media, #Justice4Jannies, they organised a mop, brushes and pail march outside the city chambers, and they targeted the wards of key councillors.
They spoke at the Scottish Trade Union Congress conference in April 2016, led the Glasgow May Day march, demonstrated outside the Scottish parliament on two occasions, and organised a two-day, 25-mile fundraising walk.
The janitors also won the support of school parents’ councils across the city, particularly after January 2017. The Labour council offered a wage rise but wanted to pay for it by cutting jobs through ‘clustering’ – meaning fewer janitors than schools. Parents began to organise protests during the Scottish local council elections campaign.
In late March, the Labour council withdrew its clustering proposal. The election campaign saw both the SNP and Green Party committed to one janitor per one school and to resolving the pay dispute.
The janitors welcomed these commitments, which are the basis on which the dispute has eventually been settled with the new SNP administration – but only after the threat of more action.
Unison has seen a 20% increase in membership, and new shop stewards, since the dispute started.