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November 2000 No 36 Pay Special

All out on 16 November
Rally 12.00 Odeon Cinema, Clerk St Edinburgh

Call a workplace meeting now! Branch Officers will attend to answer questions. Call 0131 220 5655
 * Who is on selective strike?  

  * Employers try frighteners as pay action steps up

* When will the employers see sense?  * Threat to national bargaining structures
 * About UNISONNews  

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All out on 16 November

Rally 12.00 Odeon Cinema, Clerk St Edinburgh

A rally on the November 16 strike day will be your chance to show your support for Edinburgh's selective strikers.

Seventy-six Edinburgh members came out on indefinite strike on 1 November as the pay dispute with Scottish Councils went into its fourth month.

Dougie Black, Edinburgh branch secretary and national negotiator said,

"The employers must take notice of their staff's strength of feeling. They have underestimated it all along and it is now time to come forward with a decent offer.

"As Scotland's capital, Edinburgh should be playing a key role in CoSLA. We urge councillors to play that role and exert pressure to come up with a better and fairer deal to avoid further disruption and to keep faith with their staff".

John Stevenson, Branch Vice Chair, warned the employers against escalating the action.

"We welcome statements from Edinburgh councillors that strikers will not be victimised, but we have already encountered management instructing other staff to to cover for strikers.

"This can only lead to more strife and more people being forced out on strike. Instead of working away at wheezes to get round the action, the people of Edinburgh will expect the Council to put their efforts into seeking a sensible resolution to the dispute.

"Of course the Council has to try to deliver services. The best way to do this is with fair treatment of the staff who deliver these services day in day out.

"The employers accept our members have fallen behind on pay over the years, but the new offer (only 0.5% more).....

  • shows no evidence of new money being used, contrary to CoSLA claims
  • does nothing for the lower paid,
  • goes no way to compensate for previous below-inflation pay awards.

"They can afford a better deal and our members deserve it", added John.

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Employers try frighteners as pay action steps up

Employers look like taking a harder line in a desperate attempt to stave off disruption caused by their failure to settle the pay dispute.

CoSLA is writing to councils suggesting that they might like to write to members to 'advise' them of the dangers of the selective strike action.

It is no surprise that the employers are trying to put pressure on strikers, and some of the letter may well be statements of fact.

However, UNISON already knows that information put out by one one council is misleading and wrong.

"We have examined the issues raised from a legal perspective and will raise challenges to a number of areas", said Local Government Organiser Joe Di Paola.

The union has also written to all affected members putting the record straight. In particular, UNISON makes it clear that any statement claiming that strike action will mean broken service is legally incorrect.

Service is NOT broken by the strike and strikers retain their previous service. Members on selective strike will have normal pay and pensions contributions covered by the union, so any threats in that area are covered.

"Having lost the arguments, our employers are now reduced to threats and peddling misinformation to break our members resolve", said Dougie Black, UNISON negotiators Chair.

"Instead of trying to put the frighteners on members, they would be better getting round the table and coming to a fair pay settlement".

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Who is on selective strike?

Cash Collection Staff, Finance Dept.
Affecting receipt of payments like Council tax and major financial transactions sometimes over £10million

Planning Reception
Will impact on planning applications and major building developments and hit Council income.

Front Counter/Plan Store, Property Management
Planning, Building Control and archive searches of building layouts will be disrupted. Developers and Builders will be hit, putting pressure on the Council.

Corporate Secretarial Services, City Development Directorate
Could create crisis in management and delivery of planning, transportation, building control and economic development.

Building Support Staff, Council HQ
Will disrupt a range of work across the council and affect public access.

Building Support Staff, City Chambers
Council meetings affected. Loss of income from lets.

Licensing Section, Legal Services
Will disrupt all licensing applications, eg liquor, entertainment, street trading and taxis.

District Court Admin Staff
Affects collection of fines including road traffic penalties. Loss of income to Council.

Security, Chesser House
Has already resulted in hooters being brought in to announce closing time!

Housing Cash Collection
Is the latest group to be pulled out

Further staff have been identified for a potential second phase of indefinite action.

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Threat to national bargaining structures

As this bulletin goes out the employers are trying to decide whether to impose the pay offer.

This is partly because the GMB and T&G unions have broken ranks and said they want the offer to be paid.

"This is not surprising since they had already voted not to strike over the 2.5% offer. They are the minority unions and it has always been the case that any offer must be acceptable to the majority and that means UNISON", said Dougie Black, branch secretary.

In Edinburgh there are seven UNISON members for every member of the other unions.

The position of the T&G and GMB is hard to understand, given their action could undermine the whole pay bargaining system for local government.

That is based on a National Joint Council that agrees conditions between the unions and all the Councils. If there is no agreement there, there is no deal.

If any of the unions, or councils move away from that structure, it could open the door for local bargaining, pay wars between councils and a crisis for Single Status.

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When will the employers see sense?

If you were a councillor, would you not be asking how your negotiators got you and your council into this mess?

How have they got you to a stage where your staff are on strike, the Civil Service has offered at least double to their staff and you can't come to a fair offer even with the extra money the Scottish Executive is giving you?

Why is the only way you can deal with the situation to make threatening noises and fail to get down to serious talks?

Perhaps it is time they started asking these questions. before it's too late.

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About UNISONNews

The views expressed in UNISON News are not necessarily those of UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch or the union.

All articles/comments to John Stevenson, Communications Officer at 0131 220 5655

P&P by UNISON City of Edinburgh Local Government & Related Sectors Branch, 23 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN

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