Over 80,000 local government workers across Scotland's 32
local authorities are to take strike action.
The final result of the ballot was announced on August 15,
with 56 per cent (15,917) voting for action, and 44 per cent (12,330) voting
against. The public-sector union UNISON had called the ballot after a derisory
2.5% pay increase was offered to the workers by COSLA, the Council employers'
UNISON is recommending a one-day strike as a first step, to
be followed by a two- and a three-day strike. The date targeted for the first
day will be August 19. UNISON will also be seeking a co-ordinated approach to
the action from the 40,000 members of the TGWU and GMB.
Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local
Government, said: "This result is an indication of the poor morale and
frustration felt by the workforce. Central Government has not funded staff pay
increases for seven years and the Local Government staff are fed up carrying
the burden of the cuts that local services have suffered. We will be informing
the employers of this result and of our intention to take industrial action,
and we hope, even at this late date, we could resolve the issue."
The action would affect refuse collection, food safety
protection, schools, planning, leisure facilities and many others. The union
stressed that they will ensure that protection would be in place for vulnerable
people who depend on local services.
For workers to take this action in defence of attacks on their pay and
conditions and against the cuts in public services is very just. Like other
such actions, it is bound to give rise to the question as to how society should
be organised to find a way out of the crisis.
On July 20, the House of Lords ruled in favour of 3,000 South African
workers who were demanding that their case for compensation for exposure to
asbestos be heard in the English courts. Cape plc, the offending company,
cannot appeal against this ruling.
This has been described as a landmark judgment that strengthens the case
against multinational companies operating double standards on the health and
safety of their workers, so that they may be held accountable by the courts in
Britain for their operations overseas.
A call is now being made to step up the pressure for Cape plc to provide
swift and generous compensation for the workers, whose exposure to asbestos and
its disastrous effects goes back a number of decades. Thousands of South
African workers are now suffering from fatal lung diseases.
The effects of asbestos have been known about and well-researched now for
close on half a century. This case, along with all the other tragic cases of
workers and other people exposed to asbestos, underlines that under the present
social system nationally and internationally, human lives are incidental to the
making of profit, and that this criminal system must be transformed by the