Scottish nursery nurses: How Our Strike Changed Me

Scottish nursery nurses

How Our Strike Changed Me

THOUSANDS OF nursery nurses in Scotland were recently involved in the
biggest and longest indefinite strike for 20 years. The dispute has helped
to give confidence to other workers struggling against low pay and job
cuts but it also helped change the outlook of many who participated in
that struggle.
JILL MCNAUGHTON from Dundee emerged as a leading activist during the
nine weeks she and her colleagues were on strike. Jill has since joined
the International Socialists, the Scottish section of the Committee for a
Workers International (CWI). This interview with Jill is from the current
issue of International Socialist.

"LOOKING BACK to before our dispute started, it is incredible to
realise the things that you felt you had no choice but to accept. Like
many nursery nurses I was not active in the union and would not have
thought of myself as political. Now I am much more confident about
standing up for myself and trying to make a difference.

But that is an example of how the experience of the strike changed me
and made me stronger. I was thrown into the deep end. Before I knew where
I was, I was helping organise picket lines, standing with buckets
collecting money in the streets and workplaces and speaking at meetings of
hundreds of trade unionists, socialists and supporters at public meetings
up and down the country.

If you’d asked me if I’d ever have been speaking on a platform with
people like George Galloway I’d have laughed. The strike changed me

There were a number of members of the Scottish Socialist Party and the
Committee for a Workers International in Dundee who were very active in
giving us support and help when it was most needed.

I would speak to CWI members regularly during the dispute for help and
support and encouraged other nursery nurses to do the same. I found them
very approachable and they took the time to explain the idea of socialism
and how it related to our strike for decent pay and recognition for the
job that we do.

Previously I had thought of socialists as being a bit mad, fighting for
a cause they had no chance of winning. But being involved in our fight and
hearing how it was linked to a wider struggle for a better society changed
my views.

We received welcome support from socialists from different
organisations but the CWI members took time to explain the issues, did it
in a nice way and weren’t too pushy about insisting on joining them.

After the strike finished I attended a number of CWI meetings and
discussed the lessons of the strike and socialist ideas and took time to
consider before I joined.

I am convinced that it is important to fight for a socialist society
that can end, once and for all. the misery of low pay and poverty. And I
believe that the CWI have the policies and approach that can help achieve
that aim."

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