Coun­cil work­ers to vote on strike ac­tion

Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

Coun­cil work­ers in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang are to vote on strike ac­tion over pay.

Around 5500 South La­nark­shire Coun­cil work­ers who are mem­bers of UNI­SON will be asked to take part in an of­fi­cial in­dus­trial ac­tion bal­lot from Septem­ber 9 to Septem­ber 29.

The po­ten­tial ac­tion could bring ma­jor dis­rup­tion to ser­vices in schools, hous­ing, so­cial work, leisure and other ar­eas of coun­cil ser­vices.

UNI­SON, which is Scot­land’s big­gest union for coun­cil work­ers, are dis­put­ing the Scot­tish Coun­cils ’de­ci­sion to im­pose a one per cent pay rise on the work­force with­out their agree­ment.

Coun­cil work­ers in South La­nark­shire have en­dured years of pay freezes and be­low in­fla­tion rises, with UNI­SON say­ing their wages have ef­fec­tively fallen by 16 per cent.

The bal­lot will ask mem­bers whether they are pre­pared to take strike ac­tion to force the em­ploy­ers to re­spect the joint ne­go­ti­at­ing ma­chin­ery and re­turn to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble and im­prove upon the of­fer.

Stephen Smel­lie, sec­re­tary of the union’s South La­nark­shire Branch, said: “Over the past few years our em­ployer has im­posed pay freezes and be­low in­fla­tion pay rises which mean that the value of coun­cil work­ers’ wages have fallen by 16 per cent.

“Prices in the shops, fuel and trans­port have all gone up, leav­ing many mem­bers strug­gling to get by.

“Our mem­bers be­lieve that they are worth more than this for the jobs that they do.

“How­ever the em­ploy­ers have re­fused to ne­go­ti­ate to ad­dress this. In­stead they have treated their work­force with dis­re­spect and sim­ply im­posed a fur­ther be­low in­fla­tion rise.

“None of our mem­bers want to take strike ac­tion but year af­ter year our spend­ing power has de­creased whilst our jobs have be­come harder as work­loads in­crease through cuts in jobs and bud­gets.

“We want the em­ployer to treat us with re­spect, value the ser­vices we pro­vide to the com­mu­nity and ne­go­ti­ate a fair pay rise.”

UNI­SON have pre­vi­ously praised South La­nark­shire’s com­mit­ment to the Liv­ing Wage.

And in their 2014/15 bud­get, the cash-strapped au­thor­ity set it’s min­i­mum wage at £7.76 per hour, above the Liv­ing Wage of £7.56.The coun­cil say this means the low­est paid get between £366 and £424 more per an­num.

Paul Man­ning, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor for Fi­nance and Cor­po­rate Re­sources, said: “This is a na­tional is­sue, not a lo­cal is­sue.

“Last Oc­to­ber all Scot­tish coun­cils agreed to give their em­ploy­ees a pay rise and South La­nark­shire, in line with the other au­thor­i­ties, put this into prac­tice. Fol­low­ing this, UNI­SON called a na­tional bal­lot on strike ac­tion.

“It is worth not­ing that UNI­SON is also on record prais­ing South La­nark­shire Coun­cil’s pi­o­neer­ing work to de­liver the high­est Liv­ing Wage out­side of Lon­don for its em­ploy­ees.”

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