Wednesday, 20 August 2008

3.30pm update: 150,000 out as Scottish Councils hit by strike action

Local council services across Scotland have been hit by closure and disruption as hundreds of thousands of union members struck today. The largest council union UNISON, and colleagues from GMB and Unite unions all voted by large majorities to strike as part of their campaign against the below-inflation pay offer made by Scotland’s councils.

The 24 hour stoppage affected all council services – schools across Scotland were shut, and many of those that stayed open had limited services – no school meals for example. Rubbish collection, street cleaning, and environmental protection were halted in many councils, and social work offices and day centres shut. Housing, leisure and recreation services, home and residential care, libraries, etc. etc were disrupted as around 150,000 staff took strike action across Scotland.

In Aberdeen the main call centre at Woodhill House was closed – covering large number of services for Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray councils. In East Ayrshire all schools were closed; office staffing was drastically reduced and main depots are closed. And these stories are repeated across Scotland.

Glasgow rally shows strength of feeling

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis, addressing a rally in Glasgow’s George Square today said: "It is time that Scotland’s employers took note of the strength of feeling amongst their staff and reopened their ‘final offer’ for negotiation. The level of solidarity that I have seen going round the picket lines indicates that our members and their colleagues from the other unions are determined to win a better deal. Council staff in Scotland have delivered nearly £200 m worth of efficiency savings that councils should share with staff as well as with council tax payers."

Matt Smith – UNISON’s Scottish Secretary said: "According to recent media statements it seems that Steven Purcell (Leader of Glasgow City Council) and Michael Cook (Employers’ Side Chair) have been impressed by the backing for the strike and the arguments about the levels of inflation. But they need to come back to the unions with clear proposals to address the impact of rising prices on our members. If there is no movement then we will have to look to further action in the near future."

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