More than three-quarters of Scotland’s schools face closure later this month in a battle over pay. The action by Unison union members will hit primary and secondary schools in 24 local authorities. Some 76 percent of Scotland’s schools will be affected—1,868 schools.
Unison says more than 21,000 workers will take part in the action over three days from Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 September. They overwhelmingly rejected a below-inflation pay offer from the Cosla employers’ body back in March, but bosses have offered no better deal. Chair of Unison Scotland’s local government committee, Mark Ferguson said, “Cosla’s offer falls short of Unison’s pay claim.
“It is also less than the offer made to the lowest paid local government staff south of the border.”
Other unions are set to join the push for pay. Unite has already notified action for the same days. GMB Scotland officials suspended strikes in schools across Scotland set for this week to talk about coordinating action. The union had told ten local authorities to expect two days of strikes affecting early years and school support staff next week but have now withdrawn the dates.
Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland’s senior organiser in public services, said, “We had served notice for two days of strike action this month. But as our sister unions cannot join us on these dates these have been withdrawn and we are discussing joint action later in the month.”
It would have been better for GMB to start the action and then to join with Unison later.
For a list of where the strikes have been notified go to tinyurl.com/SchoolsOutScot
Swindon bosses fight dirty
Council bosses are using dirty tactics to try to break a strike by social workers in Swindon. GMB union members last month voted unanimously to strike at the Emergency Duty Service department. The department provides 24-hour emergency care for vulnerable people.
The social workers are enraged at a bosses’ plan to steal more than £700 a month from them after a “pay review”. That process cut unsocial hours pay by 20 percent.
Workers struck for three days earlier this month before the union called off action for talks. Now the bosses have said they will dock seven days’ worth of pay from workers’ pay packets. They are threatening to do this even to workers who were ill, on holiday or not rostered to work when the three days of strikes went on.
During negotiations, the bosses did make workers an offer, but staff are concerned the agreement isn’t a firm one. Workers have decided to keep striking and planned to return to picket lines on Wednesday and every weekend until Christmas.
The way for workers in Swindon to win is to keep striking and not pause for negotiations. The bosses have shown they will go to extreme lengths to break the strike. Workers must go to the same lengths to win.
Unite union members employed by Westminster City Council across the London borough’s libraries walked out on Wednesday and Friday of last week. They were set to strike on Wednesday and Friday of this week. The strikes are part of Unite’s campaign, including 23 local authorities, against the national joint council’s (NJC) rise for public sector workers.
Unite members at Tower Hamlets council in east London are set to strike from Monday of next week until Sunday 1 October. The 200 refuse and street cleaners also rejected the flat rate NJC pay offer of £1,925.
Workers at Chesterfield Borough Council have already walked out for two days, with more workers set to join the action.
Cleaners and refuse
Cleaners at Lovelace Primary in Chessington have voted to strike. Workers are furious that the school bosses want to outsource cleaning to a private contractor.
Workers planned to strike on Friday and then from 28 September until 1 October.
•Refuse workers in Canterbury council have won one of their demands—to be paid the same as other workers in the area who do the same job. After 67 days of strikes loaders will now be paid £12 an hour, and HGV drivers will be paid £15 an hour. This is an 11.2 percent increase for drivers and a 12.2 percent rise for loaders.
Workers have held strong during this dispute. The Labour-run council attempted to use scab agency workers to try and break the strikes. At the start of the dispute in April of this year, workers were fighting for a 30 percent pay increase. After being presented with the offer, 70 percent of workers voted to accept and 30 percent voted to reject the deal. That means a significant section wanted to continue.
Strikes have undoubtedly forced the bosses to hand workers a pay rise. But more action could have forced the bosses to restore the pay workers have lost.
Strikes by 360 Stagecoach bus drivers in Warwickshire have been called off after workers voted for an improved pay offer. The deal includes a pay rise worth 12.4 percent over two years, which will raise pay from £14 to £15.79 an hour. Pay will go up by 7.9 percent this year backdated to 1 July with another 4.5 percent from 1 May 2024.
All-outs strikes had been set to start this Tuesday.
Bosses originally offered a 7.8 percent pay offer for the first year followed by 4.5 percent for the following year, with a £100 one-off payment. If the strikes had gone ahead, the bus drivers could have won a higher consolidated pay offer than they were originally offered.
Meanwhile strikes by Unite members at First Manchester and Greater Manchester Accessible Transport (GMAT) have been called off after strikers voted for a new deal.
Drivers accepted a deal including a £1,100 payment in lieu of backpay from April, a 14.8 percent from 3 September and 3.2 percent from 2 January. Bank holiday pay is now at £20 an hour.
The strikers walked out for 13 days in July and nine in August, and cancelled a week of action to vote on the deal. The Unite union members originally rejected a 7.4 percent pay offer backdated to April, a further 4.4 percent in October and another small rise next January.
GMAT drivers accepted a 10 percent increase backdated to April and a £350 one-off payment for all workers and an extra day’s holiday a year.
More than 3,000 engineering construction workers in the Unite union who are part of the National Agreement for Engineering Construction Industry (Naeci) are being balloted for strike over pay. Unite’s Naeci members carry out repair and maintenance at oil refineries, power stations and pharmaceutical and petrochemical plants. They are also involved in the construction of new build industrial infrastructure.
During the Covid pandemic, the unions agreed a pay freeze. Then in January 2022, they accepted a two-year pay deal of 2.5 percent for 2022 and 2023. Bosses refused to reopen talks through 2022 but eventually agreed to a non‑consolidated supplement for this year. Some 92 percent of workers have rejected a two‑year deal, averaging 6 percent a year.
Sites affected include Sellafield, Drax, Hunterston B, Torness and Hartlepool, and plants in Fawley, Stanlow, Pembroke, Grangemouth and Carrington, Dalry, GSK Montrose and GSK Irvine.
The ballot was set to open this week and close in mid‑October.Original post