Socialist Party
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5 June 2009

Glasgow care workers' success

After 21 weeks of strike action, the community service workers in Glasgow have voted to accept an offer from the council to end the dispute. The deal secures an increase in pay for all workers, linked to a transfer to Glasgow Community and Safety Services (GCSS), a council owned company that provides a range of services in the city.

Brian Smith, Glasgow Unison, personal capacity

All workers will be paid a single pay point of 22,811 a year for a 35 hour week from Monday to Friday. There will be no compulsory working at the weekends. Social work management had offered a wage of 18,517 - 20,166.

Social work management also wanted Sunday working as part of the standard working week. The 22,811 won is the second top point of the pay grade that the workers demanded at the beginning of the dispute.

The transfer of the workers to a council-owned company is not what was sought at the beginning of the dispute. However, the way in which social work management has treated this small group of workers over the years has been a disgrace. Comments in the media from unnamed social work officials and "council spokespersons" during the dispute were often petty, vindictive and unfounded. It is completely understandable that the workers have voted for a voluntary transfer to GCSS.

As part of the deal GCSS will maintain the workers' pension rights. The council has also agreed to establish a long term service level agreement with GCSS and confirmed that the workers will retain their permanent employment contracts. The workers remain part of the Unison branch.

The Unison branch and the strikers believe that the deal represents a successful outcome to a dispute conducted in difficult circumstances. The strikers conducted themselves magnificently. They raised thousands of pounds, spoke at dozens of meetings across Scotland.

They lobbied and pressurised politicians of all parties, gave many media interviews and ran their strike in an open and democratic manner. The Unison branch gave its full support to the dispute.

The strikers wish to thank all trade union members, other trade union branches and the people of Glasgow for their support over the last five months.

The community service workers returned to work on 1 June with their heads held high having, through united strike action, achieved what can only be described as a hard-won success.