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A critical issue for the labour movement is the use of zero hours contracts by unscrupulous employers, which enable them to guarantee no regular hours of work. This leaves their workers living dreadfully precarious lives, living from week to week without knowing what their pay cheque might look like. We are delighted to receive this report from Malcolm Jones of North West SWAN, who, along with other social workers and home care workers has been on the picket line supporting Hovis workers in their dispute against Premier Foods. There have been two rounds of strikes - while the Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union are now in talks (as of 19th September 2013) with bosses about their use of zero hours contracts - a third round of strikes is planned if no resolution is found. SWAN National Steering Committee offers their full support and solidarity.
This week SWAN has learned about the unofficial strike by social workers in the North and East Community Homeless Casework Team of Glasgow City Council, who are members of Unison. They walked out on Friday 13th September, following the suspension of a colleague who refused to cover the work of vacant posts. UPDATE: wildcat strikers returned to work on Wednesday 18th September, pending official industrial action as their member was reinstated to their position and talks with management were agreed. See foot of article.Unite the Resistance reported yesterday (Monday 16th September), that the strike had escalated across the whole service following a union meeting of 60 people, after talks with management over workload failed to resolve the issues. The workers are demanding management take action to prevent excessive workloads by agreeing to a cap of 35 cases per worker.
The SWAN website has previously featured articles on the campaigns against the 'One Barnet' programme being implemented in the Conservative controlled north London Borough, an authority which has become another malign neoliberal laboratory for local government. While SWAN has supported the work of Barnet Alliance for Public Services and the Campaign Against Destruction of Disabled Support Services (CADDSS), we have not highlighted the debacle of the Your Choice Barnet Local Authority Trading Company. This was set up in February 2012 to spin off the previously in-house learning disability services in the borough, and shortly found itself £2m in debt.
CADDSS was so concerned about the future of services provided by Your Choice Barnet that it asked Prof Dexter Whitfield, the Director of European Services Strategy, to review the situation. Your Choice Barnet is experiencing considerable financial difficulties and is very unwilling to engage with service users and families who are worried about the future of the services they use.
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Social Work Action Network (SWAN)c/o Iain FergusonSchool of Social ScienceUniversity of the West of ScotlandPaisleyPA1 2BE
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