William Eichler 24 April 2018

Scottish council workers vote to strike against ‘unacceptable cuts’

Workers at East Dunbartonshire Council yesterday voted for industrial action against ‘unacceptable cuts’ to staff terms and conditions.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat-run council plans to cut overtime allowances, impose a three day reduction to annual leave entitlement and reduce redundancy benefit to the lowest paid members of staff.

In response, members of the union GMB Scotland voted in a two week ballot process for strike action. 75% of members on a 97% turnout voted in favour of walking out.

‘Our members are sick and tired trying to make ends meet while doing more for less and this latest instalment of austerity shame is the final straw,’ said GMB Scotland organiser Hazel Nolan.

‘The Tories and Lib Dems have rode roughshod over the recognised trade union bargaining forums and played gutter politics for the last six months to try and pick over one million pounds from the pockets of their employees.

‘I doubt any of them have a clue about what it’s like working on the bottom rungs of local government pay nor will they understand the importance of these terms and conditions to our members and their families.’

‘GMB will re-enter proper negotiations with the council if they recognise the vital contribution our members make to local services and step-back from this shameful cash grab on hard-pressed staff,’ she added.

Responding to the threat of strike action, joint council leader Vaughan Moody said: ‘The council decided on 10 April to suspend implementation of the revised Redundancy Payments Framework and begin fresh talks with our trades unions colleagues on this and other potential changes to employee terms and conditions.

‘Meetings have already been held with the trade unions and these will continue over the coming months and we hope that through negotiation and engagement that these meetings will prove fruitful.’

Joint council leader Andrew Polson said: ‘The joint administration believes that progress can best be achieved by working with the trades unions and through constructive dialogue.

‘While recognising the consultative ballots that GMB and other trades unions have run with their membership we hope to continue discussions in a constructive way.

‘The council made difficult decisions when setting the 2018/19 Budget and recognises the impact of these decisions on employees.

‘It is unfortunate that the ballot results have been announced in this way and threat of strike action at this stage is ill-timed. We would hope that through negotiations any strike action can be avoided.’

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