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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 June 2009

Glasgow council: Social work dept staff start all-out strike

Frontline clerical/admin workers in Glasgow council's social work department began an all out indefinite strike action on 1 July. The dispute is over the failure of the council to pay the 400 workers a 'working context and demands' payment under a new pay and grading scheme.

Brian Smith, Glasgow Unison branch secretary

The payment is awarded to council workers to compensate where their jobs require higher than normal physical effort and dexterity or involve uncomfortable working conditions.

Also where there are potentially higher health and safety risks or involve working with people who are distressed and vulnerable. The payments range from 520 to over 1,000 per year.

It is impossible to justify not paying a 'working context and demands' payment to workers who staff social work receptions, work in care homes and centres, answer telephones, process social work reports and take minutes at child/adult protection hearings and reviews of the cases of vulnerable people. All of these can be emotionally distressing work.

People who use social work services are often distressed or upset or angry and are vulnerable. In these circumstances the frontline clerical/admin workers are often their first point of contact. All other social work frontline workers get a 'working context and demands' payment.

It is ironic that the council's new pay and grading scheme was supposed to be about delivering equal pay for lower-paid women. Yet the council is refusing to apply its own rules to clerical/admin workers, most of whom are lower-paid women workers.

The council has also been promising a new clerical/admin staffing structure for years. The failure to deliver this new structure has saved the council a fortune. In addition they have saved thousands of pounds through the non-filling of frontline clerical/admin vacancies.

The decision to take strike action was not reached lightly. Please do all you can to support the strikers to win their just and modest demand.

  • Messages of support and donations to the strike fund should be sent to Unison Glasgow City branch, 18 Albion Street, G1 1LH or to enquires@glasgowcityunison.co.uk
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