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Glasgow workers striking against Labour privatisation

Matt Dobson

Socialist Party Scotland and the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) give our full support to the Glasgow City Unison members who are taking strike action today, 17th November. The Labour council’s plans to outsource and privatise ICT services to the Canadian multinational CGI must be defeated.

Outrageously, all Labour councillors on the administration executive voted to enter into full contractual dialogue with CGI regarding the privatisation proposal. This was despite Unison presenting a fully costed alternative of bringing ICT fully in-house under council control.

Scandalously, the chief executive, backed by council leader Frank McAveety, didn’t even wait until the outcome of the executive before contacting the workforce directly about the “benefits” of working for CGI. McAveety also accused Unison of scaremongering in the press over the attacks of workers’ terms and conditions that result from privatisation.

ICT Unison members courageously gave their verdict with a 96% vote for strike action on a 78% turnout to oppose the outsourcing. There has also been a flood of applications to join the union in the last few weeks. The strike action is being backed by a public and visible campaigning in the press, social media and lobbying of councillors, which must be stepped up from the strike day and continue.

If the Labour council do not back down from these plans after the one-day strike, sustained and escalated action will need to be discussed by Unison members.

Socialist Party Scotland opposes all privatisation of public services. We agree with Glasgow City Unison’s case that this privatisation would result in higher long-term costs, loss of control of a key council function, and therefore have a disastrous future impact for social care,schools, home care, financial payments, council tax collection and benefits, etc. The allowing of this proposal to go ahead in Scotland’s largest local authority could open the floodgates to the private vultures coming into other councils.

privatisation means cuts

The workforce will inevitably face attacks on conditions under CGI business models, as we have seen recently with the TUPE of 136 CGI workers in Bridgend Wales out of a call centre who were then quickly replaced with staff on worse terms and conditions.

It is therefore disgraceful that the Labour administration is attacking its own workers. However, perhaps not surprising as they have passed a vicious cuts budget of £165 million in March 2016. Their anti-trade union stance, particularly in the ALEO organisations which are trying to get away with unfair pay imposed on their own workers, has been seen with the recent Unison and GMB strikes in Community Safety Glasgow and Cordia and the constant attacks by the council leader On Glasgow City Unison.

Unison has correctly called on the anti-austerity Labour leaders Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to condemn this privatisation, intervene against it and publicly back the union’s campaign against it. Trade unionists and Corbyn supporters in Labour Parties across Scotland should move resolutions backing the arguments of Unison and pressurise the Glasgow Labour group.

The privatisation proposal can be defeated. Glasgow Unison has a fighting tradition of campaigning and has won victories for workers as seen with the CCTV workers and Homeless Caseworkers. The Glasgow trade unions also came together to defeat the council’s proposal to attack worker’s public holidays. The campaign to defend ICT must be supported by the trade union movement nationally. This struggle underlines the urgent need for nationally co-ordinated strike action against cuts, low pay and privatisation.

Fight all cuts

This anti-privatisation campaign is linked to the demand that councillors should refuse to vote for cuts. A no cuts budget, which the Glasgow council unions have been demanding, would mean the council using all financial mechanisms at its disposal coming together with the trade unions and the community in a mass campaign to demand the funding stolen by Holyrood and Westminster.

In the absence of Labour, the SNP and Greens taking this fighting position, Socialist Party Scotland will be organising with the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to stand 100% anti austerity, anti-privatisation socialists in the forthcoming council elections in 2017

  • No cuts or privatisation of council services
  • Support and build the strikes. Fair pay for all council workers no attacks on terms and conditions. No to outsourcing. For in-house democratic control of council services. 
  • Councillors must fight austerity not implement it
  • Set no-cuts budgets that defend jobs and services 
  • For national united trade union action to oppose all cuts

Contact your Glasgow Councillor on 0141 287 2000 or by e-mail. Send messages of solidarity to Unison: Brian Smith 07870914361, Tony Santilli, 07931903751 and by email to unisonenquiries@glasgowcityunison.org.uk