UNITE union convener Margaret Wood addresses a demonstration at West Dunbartonshire Council offices in Dumbarton.
By Lizzie Healey
Unite, one of the major trade unions representing West Dunbartonshire Council employees, has written to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) requesting that the pay order for council workers should be re-opened following the latest teachers’ pay offer. Unite members had voted to reject the pay offer by 55 per cent.
As of April, teachers are set to receive a 7 per cent pay rise, on top of a 3 per cent pay rise backdated to April 2018, with another 3 per cent to come a year later. Despite, the well-deserved pay offer for teachers, which equates to over 13 per cent by 2020, Unite believes that all local authority workers equally deserve a similar pay deal and has called for the reopening of negotiations.
Unite has repeatedly called for a ‘trigger clause’ which if, as predicted, Brexit causes inflation to rise, and for low pay bands to be revisited at the end of the three-year period. The pay order also fails to restore local authority workers to the levels of real terms pay from ten years ago.
Wendy Dunsmore, UNITE regional industrial officer, said: “Unite members rejected the most recent pay offer but it was imposed on our members.
“However, the order did give a commitment by COSLA to re-open pay negotiations in specific circumstances including another local government bargaining group’s pay offer being greater.
“Today, we are invoking this commitment and inviting our sister unions to join us to demand that parity is maintained following the teacher pay offer.
“Unite members were disappointed that the local authorities offer did not address the real issues for workers such as Brexit and those workers who are paid below the Scottish Living Wage, and this new development now allows COSLA to make amends.”
Local UNITE member Ian Allan said: “Brilliant stuff pity unison or GMB can’t come back to the table.”
And Craig Denver said: “I am gutted the other union members didn’t hold out a little longer.”
UNITE convener Margaret Wood added: “This was always going to happen. The teachers are to be commended for their show of strength in Glasgow. We are lucky to get 20 to turn out. There are lessons to be learned from this.”
Veteran trade unionist Jim Whyte said: “There are indeed lessons to be learned from the teachers and trade union consciousness.
“I joined the EIS in 1976 at the height of the IMF crisis with cuts as severe as what we are going through now. Unions were fighting the cuts, but not the EIS who were not even affiliated to the STUC.
“The EIS’s attitude was that they were a special case and cuts were okay for everybody else but not teachers. It was a shocking attitude.
Margaret Thatcher campaigning in the Herald office in Glasgow.
“But along came Thatcher and they soon found there was nothing special about their status as the “Iron Lady” swung her axe. The result was the EIS affiliated to the STUC as they learned that unity is strength.
“From that time on Scottish teachers have become more and more militant supporting struggles at home and abroad that go well beyond the economic struggle.”
Meanwhile, West Dunbartonshire workers memorial day 2019 will be on Saturday 27th April 1pm at Christie Park memorial tree.
Speakers will be Margaret Woods (Unite Convener), Hazel Nolan (GMB), Tom Morrison (Clydebank trades council), Ian Tasker (Scottish Hazards), Louise Taggart (FACK), Cllr Jim Bollan and George Black.
Margaret Wood said: “We would like to see a good turn out from the trade unions and local community as we remember those who have been killed at or as a result of their work.”
Jim Whyte has made an appeal for the Clydebank Asbestos Group to be invited.
He said: “Asbestos exposure is probably the biggest industrial killers in the West of Scotland.
“The QE2 was only half built with asbestos following a campaign of industrial action by joiners.
“It also led to government legislation which banned the use of asbestos in shipbuilding and subsequently housing new builds.”
Passing Dumbarton Rock on its way to sea trials in the Firth of Clyde – the QE2 which Jim Whyte says was “only half built” with asbestos.