Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Press Association: Council workers stage second strike

from Press Association
24 Sep 2008 - 09:05
By Lucinda Cameron and Sam Reeves, Scottish Press Association (ScotFile:News special)

Tens of thousands of local government workers staged a another one-day strike today in a dispute over pay.

The action - the second in five weeks - disrupted schools, rubbish collections, ferry services and other council services.

Union leaders predicted about 150,000 staff across Scotland were taking part in the one-day walkout, in the continuing stand-off with council bosses.

It comes just over a month after a first council workers strike over the same issue brought widespread disruption.

Discontent at an offer of 2.5% for each of the next three years is at the heart of the row.

Many councils have listed services affected by the strike on their website.

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne said that today's sailings between Gourock and Dunoon and between Wemyss Bay and Rothesay have been cancelled because of industrial action by Argyll and Bute council staff.

Unison, the main union involved in the strike, said council chiefs had failed to live up to their promise of improving the offer after the first strike.

Glyn Hawker, Scottish organiser of Unison, said the action was going well so far today.

She said: "It's still very early but the indications are that there are a lot of people involved.

"Reports I've had from colleagues show it's going very well and there is a lot of support for the strike.

"We hope that it will bring our employers back into negotiation with a revised and improved pay offer for our members.

"We hope they will recognise the strength of feeling and unhappiness and agree to meet."

Unison represents about 100,000 local government workers. The other unions involved are GMB and Unite.

A major demonstration is taking place in Edinburgh, with a rally in Princes Street Gardens.

Other rallies were being held in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee and Inverness.

Unison also expressed concern that councils plan to open some schools that were closed during last month's strike.

It said there will be a lack of trained staff in the schools and children will be put at risk.

Local authority employers' group Cosla said it was disappointed the workers were set to bring further misery to communities.

It said compromises had been made over the pay issue and said the unions should be more realistic in their demands.

A spokesman said: "We are disappointed that the unions are putting communities through another day of unnecessary action.

"Striking is not the way to resolve this. As employers we are always willing to talk - we want to settle this dispute - but there must be a reality check from our unions .

"We have already moved in terms of a one-year deal and the time has now come for the unions to be more realistic in their demands."


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