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September 2000 No 33 Pay Special

 Escalation - next strike day 20 September
Call a workplace meeting now! Branch Officers will attend to answer questions. Call 0131 220 5655
 * New offer, what new offer?  

  * Massive support on 29th

* Parliament picketed (Photo)  * Members should be proud of how they responded
 * A tour around Edinburgh - and Scotland  * 500 new members
join and more news in brief
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Escalation - next strike day 20 September

The next strike day for all staff has been set for 20 September, with plans for a major national demonstration in Edinburgh.

At the same time, selected key groups of members are being balloted on indefinite strike on full take home pay.

The success of the strike day on 29 August led Scottish branches to rethink tactics and bring forward the selective action.

This was initially planned for the end of a series of one, two and then three day stoppages but with no movement from the employers, new tactics were needed. There may also be additional all-out stoppages to back up the selective action.

The City of Edinburgh Branch has already identified key groups and more news will follow shortly.

Scottish UNISON branches made the decision at the Local Government Forum on 1 September and it was approved by the National Committee in London on 5 September.

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Massive support on 29th

The City of Edinburgh Council, by its own admission, was paralysed on 29 August.

Over 95% of UNISON members backed the strike and support also came from T&G members who refused to cross picket lines.
Picket lines were hardly needed in many areas with offices, schools and even Princes Street Gardens affected.

But UNISON made sure that those most at risk were protected, leaving in 600 members out of our 7,000 for 'life and limb' cover.

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New offer, what new offer?

Members may have been baffled by press reports of a new offer. There has been no new offer as such but CoSLA did suggest it would put a 'repackaging' to the union. This turned out to be a 2% increase from 1st April 2000 (the date the rise was due) and a further 1% from October 2000.

You may have spotted that this still represents an increase of 2.5% in the current financial year, the same 2.5% we have already rejected.

Dougie Black, branch secretary and national negotiator, said:
"This is not an improved offer. It represents 2.5% on this year's pay bill and that has already been rejected by our members as being entirely inadequate in meeting our claim. As always we are willing to talk, but any talks must be on the basis of an improved offer."

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Members should be proud of how they responded

Members should be proud of how they stood together on 29 August to show how they felt about the derisory pay offer.

This was the message from branch secretary and national negotiator Dougie Black after the Usher Hall rally.

300 members attended the rally at short notice, several getting the chance to tell the STV cameras directly just how they felt about having to strike for fair pay.

Dougie told the rally,
"2.5% goes nowhere towards meeting our claim or addressing low pay. 5% is reasonable and the employers should pay up now."
He brought nods from around the hall when he reminded members,

"If the employers come to us with a substantially improved offer we have a duty to put it to you, the members, to decide. But we are fighting for the full claim".

Vice chair John Stevenson addressed the rally and another outside the City Chambers. He told members,

"The Evening News said that UNISON was left 'red-faced' after other unions voted not to strike. Well, with 95% out, with the city ground to a halt, with other union members not crossing picket lines, who's got the red face now?" (UNISON has over 7,000 members in the council with the other non teaching unions accounting for about 1,000)

John also slammed schools for not closing and for not giving parents full details of the situation - a position backed immediately by the EIS.

He had a special word for school and nursery staff who are often isolated and can come under pressure.

He praised the stand taken by other union members and thanked our own members who were exempted to provide life and limb cover.

"They are as much a part of this strike as anyone else and we thank them for providing the life and limb cover on our behalf - and of course for their donations to the hardship fund".

And to the press reports about 'damaging services' he retorted,
"In past years we have taken industrial action, not for ourselves, but to protect services. It is 11 years since we took action on pay.

"If the employers show scant regard for their staff, they show scant regard for the services they provide and the people who use them".

Stephen McCullough brought a special message of support from the voluntary sector who are not currently involved in the dispute.

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Parliament Picketed


UNISON takes the message direct to the Scottish Parliament as cleaner Anne King pickets MSPs' offices on 29 August. The City of Edinburgh DSO has the cleaning contract for the ex council building. PCS union officers passed on a message of support. Staff were shocked that in Scotland's Parliament, cleaners were on poverty pay.

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A tour around Edinburgh - and Scotland

An estimated 70,000 UNISON members came out on strike across Scotland on the 29th.

In Edinburgh pickets were out from early morning. Edinburgh South office saw mail vans turn away and the dubious sight of branch officer John Stevenson's trousers splitting!

Big pickets at Chesser House, Waterloo Place and the City Chambers saw only a trickle of members ignore the strike.

"They may have qualms about backing the strike, but they'll have no qualms about taking the rise we win for them", said one picket.
The Murrayburn Depot saw most T&G members not crossing lines with a drastic effect on refuse collections. WHEC also saw a well organised presence.

Pickets at Westfield House, Muirhouse, Leith and Edinburgh North saw their offices closed and silent.

Most schools were affected. All nurseries closed, some primaries and one secondary. But this does not tell the whole story. Most other schools were only taking in older pupils and were closed for the younger years.

Management say these decisions were taken after 'risk assessments' but UNISON and the EIS believe that only schools which planned to close had their risk assessments checked.
Princes Street Gardens closed and cleaners were out at the Scottish Parliament offices.

Everywhere spirits were high with most of the public being supportive.

It was reflected around the country. In the Western Isles, only seven people crossed picket lines out of a membership of 437. But even then they recruited 11 new members!.

In Orkney, St Magnus Cathedral closed (no, I don't know why). Aberdeen's Union Street became Trade Union Street with a lively march and rally.

In Midlothian, all schools closed and most closed in Fife too.

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500 new members

Since the ballot, over 500 members have joined the Edinburgh branch alone and 4,000 across Scotland.

Lobby your MSP
Keep up the pressure. Members, family and friends should contact their MSP, MP and councillor to make the points about our claim on page 1.

UNISON members show their solidarity
Many of those on strike voted no in the ballot or did not vote at all, yet they followed the democratic decision. That made the action such a success and has made the employers, the Scottish Executive and the country sit up and take notice

Our own flying picket
Members who saw John Mulgrew's spectacular (if unintentional) head dive and forward roll off the Usher Hall stage will be glad to know he recovered after only a few pints.

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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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