24-hour strike to hit Glasgow venues

Staff at Culture and Sport Glasgow are preparing for a 24-hour strike from midnight on Friday 1 August in a dispute over their pay.

BECTU’s Scottish official Paul McManus is to lead a delegation at ACAS tomorrow (30 July) to see if the action can be averted. If the talks at ACAS are not successful over 70 venues in Glasgow will be affected by industrial action starting this Friday and continuing into the weeks ahead.

BECTU issued the following press release today:

Press Release for Immediate Use
Tuesday 29 July 2008

Strike action this week at Culture and Sport Glasgow venues

Strike action is set to hit hundreds of events in Glasgow this weekend as staff at 70 venues operated by Culture and Sport Glasgow walk out this Friday 1 August in a 24-hour stoppage. The dispute is over management's continued attacks on their pay and conditions.

The action, which will run from 00.05 hours on 1 August until 23.55 hours that day, will affect a whole range of activity including dances and wedding parties and a range of cultural events and some sports facilities. This Friday's planned stoppage is being taken by former council staff now employed by the private company, Culture and Sport Glasgow. This Friday's strike will be followed by a range of industrial action which will make it impossible for Culture and Sport Glasgow to offer any kind of normal service in the coming weeks.

Talks at ACAS are being held tomorrow in a last ditch attempt to resolve the dispute.

The Tramway and Mitchell Theatres and around 70 former council community facilities such as Langside and Partick Burgh Halls and some sports facilities will all be affected by the action.

Background to the Dispute

On 1 April 2007 around 2000 staff were transferred from their employment by Glasgow City Council and into the new private company, Culture and Sport Glasgow. The company has a number of Labour councillors on its board including Steven Purcell, the Leader of the Council.

At the time the Council argued that Culture and Sport Glasgow would save millions of pounds in VAT payments and would be far better off due to increased private and public funding not accessible to the operation as a Council department. Staff were also given assurances that they would be no worse off than their Council colleagues by moving into the privatised company.

However since the changeover, staff believe that management have waged a vendetta over their pay and conditions in an effort to slash staff costs and increase responsibilities, workloads and hours.

BECTU Scottish Organiser, Paul McManus, says his members do not want to see the public suffer through cancelled events but accuses the company of hypocrisy over its treatment of staff. BECTU members have spent almost a year in negotiations trying to get the company to agree a way forward on these issues. Action is now being taken as a last resort in response to management's decision to impose cuts.

BECTU is aware that Culture and Sport Glasgow is attempting to draft in managers and staff from other areas to work on this weekend's events. BECTU takes the view that staff working in unfamiliar surroundings will be hampered in their regard for health and safety and this could present a risk for venue users.

Paul McManus explains "There are two main issues at the core of these problems. On the one hand the company has said publicly that it must follow the Council's pay and grading system but then on the other it announces to staff that it intends treating them much worse than their former Council colleagues.

Culture and Sport Glasgow is demanding that staff carry out a wide range of responsibilities and work long and unsociable hours which it then is not paying for.

Examples of worsening conditions:

  • Some months ago BECTU agreed in writing with Culture and Sport Glasgow that Community Facility Officers should not be asked to walk the streets carrying thousands of pounds in cash takings. Management agreed that this endangered the safety of staff and that the money should be collected by secure transport. Now management has written to BECTU members saying that if they refuse to carry the money they will be sent home and docked a day's wages. This is a blatant attempt at bullying and intimidation and BECTU and its members will not accept this treatment.
  • Low paid grade 2 Culture and Leisure attendants have been told that the company expects them to be responsible for the safety and security of all facilities when Glasgow City Council has already upgraded many staff to grade 3 for taking on these extra duties.
  • Glasgow City Council has increased its annual leave allowance as a result of changes to employment legislation. At the same time Culture and Sport Glasgow told the unions that it was going to take six days public holidays away from staff.

The company has also recently advised the unions* that it cannot offer the same annual pay rise as Glasgow City Council because the Labour Councillors who run the Company will not tell themselves how much they are going to give themselves in funding.

Commenting further, Paul McManus said "It's no surprise to either myself or staff that Labour can't get people to vote for it in Glasgow when we have managers backed by the Labour leadership of the Council now going round our members on a one to one basis in an effort to force them to break the strike and to bully them into doing work they are not getting paid for.

"The people of Glasgow would be better served if the Council and the Trust would accept BECTU's repeated invitations to engage in finding a meaningful solution to these problems." Paul McManus concluded.

Ends

For more information contact: Paul McManus on 0141 314 0060.
Alternatively contact Sharon Elliott, BECTU Communications Officer on 020 7346 0900 or at selliott@bectu.org.uk

Editors’ Footnote*: BECTU understands that Unison is currently running a strike ballot within Culture and Sport Glasgow over the pay rise and annual leave issues; GMB and Unite are consulting their members in C&SG about running similar exercises.

Tuesday 29 July 2008