An agreement has been reached between Glasgow City Council and its homelessness staff workers in Unison after almost four months on strike.

The Glasgow Homeless Case Workers, all members of Unison, took action over the council’s job evaluation scheme, claiming they were paid £5000 less compared to those doing a similar job.

glasgow-homeless-workers

After 70 homelessness case workers walked out on March 31, a meeting was held today between striking shop stewards and Unison to discuss whether to accept the terms of a council offer.

A majority voted to accept the offer which, through a series of service reforms, would see 68 new posts made available at a higher pay band, ending the 17-week strike action.

In a statement last night on their Facebook page, the strikers said:

“Given the absolutely phenomenal support through all of you on Facebook that has helped bring attention to our action when coverage in the mainstream media was sorely lacking, here is a breakdown in layman’s terms of what we have agreed in order
to resolve our dispute.

The 3 objectives of the strike were:

1. Grade 6 as the correct grade to deliver frontline homeless services
2. Everyone on the grade
3. Backpay

What we have agreed:

The PCS5 Grade 6 post of Social Care Worker (Homelessness) will now be the grade and job to deliver frontline homeless services in Glasgow

There will be a floor (ie. minimum) of 68 full time equivalent (fte) posts available to deliver the service at the new grade, as a transitional figure. Any future reduction in numbers will see people therefore re-deployed at grade 6

Caseworkers will undergo a non-competitive assessment process, on which the Council have agreed to consult with Unison, to demonstrate competency at the new grade.

The 3 members in temporary posts, whose substantive posts were grade 4 in CBS, will be consolidated at grade 5 within Social Work

Placement on the salary scale will be entry level on the PCS5 Grade 6 spinal column.

The whole process will take no more than 3 months, with a one-off payment of £350

What this means to us:

That 2 of our 3 objectives were met. We do not anticipate any of us failing to demonstrate competency at grade 6.

…and that WE WON!

Solidarity and thanks to each and every one of you. We know how to fight and win because you helped us. You are the friends we didn’t know we had, but we needed. And, if any of us were ever in any doubt, we now know what the fight involves. But we are ready.

And we have your back.”

A council spokesman said: “We are pleased our offer and the crucial service reform package that goes with it have been accepted – and that some staff will be returning to work in a new, enhanced community casework service that will support some of our most vulnerable citizens into settled accommodation.

“It would never have been possible to agree to re-grade these staff in their previous roles – however, many of them will now step into new, promoted posts with additional responsibilities following an interview.”

Homelessness support workers picket outside Glasgow City Chambers

Homelessness support workers picket outside Glasgow City Chambers

Overall ‘celebrated’

Unison say they will be consulted on the assessment process and workers will receive a one-off payment of £350 while the process is completed.

However, the council would not make any backdated payment, something Unison representatives say is a “disappointment.”

Brian Smith from Unison said: “The assessment process and the lack of any backdated money are a disappointment.

“But in a climate of huge cuts to local government and against a hard-nosed management who tried to undermine the action by using other agencies, then the overall outcome of the strike will be celebrated by all in the trade union movement.

“The 70 strikers conducted themselves magnificently. The Unison Glasgow branch is so proud of them.”

A campaigner from the homelessness case workers also posted on Facebook yesterday: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us through the 17 weeks of our strike.

“The words and actions of solidarity displayed was at times overwhelming. This has been an experience I will never forget and I am proud of all of my comrades who conducted themselves with dignity throughout our action.

“Everyone faces tough times ahead and I would like to change the name of our page and continue the fight for fair pay and working conditions.

“This page has taken over my life for the past 17 weeks and I feel very emotional saying goodbye but hopefully it has inspired some people to take their own action and fight for what is right and fair. It has been an amazing journey. Let’s keep up the fight.”

Glasgow Homelessness Caseworkers announced they would return to work on Tuesday, July 29.

– Originally published on Streets Kitchen


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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