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Glasgow council street cleaners start workers' fightback
IN A bid to make further budget savings, Glasgow city council continues its assault on workers' conditions of employment. The latest group of employees under attack are the 1,200 street cleaners, parks staff and road workers.
Ian Leech, Glasgow City Unison steward
The council plans would scrap the current five-day working week and place all staff on a rota system of four days on and four days off. According to the council, there will be longer working days but fewer days worked over a year to try to save £5 million and increase the level of service to the public.
In preparation for imposing the new conditions, the council sent out redundancy notices and letters to all staff organised in three unions - GMB, Unison and Unite, saying their contracts were terminated and offering new contracts on the new conditions. The council's message was 'if you do not sign the new contract you should consider yourself sacked'!
At a packed meeting in May the union members' anger spilled over. They accused their leaderships of being slow to react to the council's threat and demanded to know why their union continues to pay money to the Labour Party in return for being kicked in the teeth!
The members view the attack on the five-day working week as contradicting the council's commitment to 'work/ life balance' and it will affect time spent with families. The negotiating team reported that, in response to a threat of industrial action, the council officers said 'bring it on'. Angry workers agreed with one contribution which declared "If they want a fight, let's give them one!"
A ballot of the union branches involved has returned a majority for an all-out strike. First into action will be the street cleansing teams but the action could quickly spread to other environmental workers who, although not yet balloted, have indicated that they will refuse to cross any picket lines and will therefore be 'picketed out'.
News of this has drawn comments about a return to the 1970s types of strike tactics. Glasgow council has already indicated it may try to use 'scab labour' in the form of outside contractors to undermine the action.
In The Socialist 10 June 2009:
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