Monday, September 22, 2008

Last month's council service disruption to be repeated on Wednesday

News Release - Monday 22 September 2008

UNISON, Scotland's largest Council union, said today that the day's strike on Wednesday (24 September)is to go ahead and is likely to involve the same numbers as the last strike on 20 August.

That strike saw massive disruption to local services and prompted employers to offer further talks and 'to look to a settlement which takes account of the rise' (letter from CoSLA) in inflation since their first offer. The failure of the employers to improve their offer at that meeting - whether this was because of duplicitous reneging on public commitments OR internal inability to agree - led directly to this further action from the three unions involved in the action (UNISON, GMB and Unite).

The action on Wednesday will affect council services across Scotland, and will disrupt schools, nurseries and community education, social work services, cleansing and environmental health, housing, planning, roads and transport - including some ferry services in Argyll and the Highlands - registry services, parks, leisure and recreation, libraries and museums, halls and theatres and many more.

Dougie Black, UNISON Scotland Regional Officer and Secretary to the joint trade union negotiating team said, "The action on Wednesday will send a very clear message to the employers. Your failure to improve your offer after making public commitments to do so has angered your staff. Taking further industrial action is regrettable, but we have no alternative given the employers' behaviour over this."

A major demonstration will take place in Edinburgh, with a rally at 1.00pm at the Ross bandstand at Princes Street Gardens. Speaking will be UNISON's Deputy General Secretary, Keith Sonnet, And Angela Nicoll, a low paid nursery nurse from West Dunbartonshire. There will also be speakers from the GMB and Unite.

Whilst this will be the main focus, other rallies will take place in parts of Scotland where members would have difficulty attending Edinnburgh. Rallies will take place in Aberdeen, with UNISON's Scottish Organiser John Keggie, and Aberdeenshire home care worker, Alison Law speaking, Dumfries - speakers Dave Watson (UNISON); Councillor Archie Dryburgh and Ann Patterson (Unite), Dundee and Inverness. Details of these events are on the UNISON strike day page 
UNISON has expressed concern that a number of councils plan to open schools that were closed last month, suggesting that untrained staff can cover fire safety and health and safety, that no lunches or no hot lunches will be provided - even where children get free school lunches, that pupils as young as five will be drafted in to keep schools clean, and that they propose to abandon procedures to warn parents if pupils fail to arrive, or to enable parents to contact the school.

Tracey Dalling, UNISON's Regional Organiser for local government said "It is extremely worrying that some councils seem to be prepared to risk our kids' safety in order to try and claim some kind of one-upmanship over their striking staff. We have asked all our local government branches to ask for the risk assessments for the individual schools that they propose to open. Strangely enough we haven't received too many, indeed we do know that some councils have not even completed them but are still saying that schools will be open!"