Glasgow janitors hold gagged protest over employers refusal to negotiate
GLASGOW JANITORS have sounded a note of defiance during an open-air rally marking the end of their first full five days of strike action over special payments.
The strikers have been involved in an industrial dispute with Cordia, an arms-length company of Glasgow City Council , since 19 January, when they began boycotting unpleasant or hazardous duties for which Cordia and GCC employees usually receive special payments but the janitors do not.
Since the initial boycott the janitors have escalated their action, engaging in several three day strikes, with protests at GCC headquarters and the headquarters of Cordia, both based in Glasgow city centre.
During a rally on Thursday (19 May) marking four months of the dispute and the end of their first five day long strike, jannies gagged themselves to highlight their claims that Cordia are refusing to enter talks with them.
Speaking to CommonSpace after the rally two janitors, Jim Cook and Jim McCann, said that the strike was going strong and that they were confident of victory.
Cook said: “Our cause is strong. We were strong from day one and we are even stronger now than ever. We are very confident.”
The strikers are demanding payments for tasks including handling dangerous materials such as drugs paraphernalia, broken glass and human and animal waste.
McCann added: “It’s not a pay increase we are looking for, it’s parity. We want the same as everyone else gets from Cordia.
“Other council workers who work outside or in toilets get this extra money – so called ‘dirty money’. We are the only people who do not get it from the council. This is clear discrimination.”
Left to right: Striking Glasgow janitors Jim McCann and Jim Cook.
Cordia is an arms-length company of GCC, which has councillors siting on its board, but does not have to comply with all of GCC’s employment practices.
“Cordia is the council when it suits them, not the council when it isn’t. When it comes down to business the council says ‘this is Cordia’s problem not ours’.” Cook said.
“We have four Labour councillors on our [Cordia] board, each earning £10,000 a year, but we are not part of the council?” McCann said.
McCann said he had mixed feelings about being out on strike: “I have to justifiy to my kids why I’m there at certain parts of the day when I should be at work. But as a group I’m proud of our janitors because we are out there participating.”
Watch: Independence Live recording of part of the rally including interview with janitors.
The rally heard from trade union and political figures including STUC deputy general secretary Dave Moxham and SNP MSP Clare Haughey.
In a development which could embarrass GCC Labour councillors, the janitors also received support on the day from Scottish Labour Young Socialists.