9 January 2014
Victory for Glasgow Pupil Support Assistants
Pupil Support Assistants (PSAs) in Glasgow have taken on their city council employers and won.
Management wanted PSAs to dispense medication and carry out
1,200 PSAs, members of Unison, struck for four days, closing schools across the city as other workers refused to cross their picket lines. As the strikes progressed, PSAs who were GMB members joined the action too.
Days before the fifth day of action, which was to be a city-wide strike day on 29 November, management produced a proposal. In a well-attended mass meeting members agreed to suspend the action and ballot all members. In the postal ballot, PSAs voted overwhelmingly to accept the offer.
Most PSA’s will not be asked to dispense medication and only a small number of higher graded workers will be involved in a limited number of non-invasive medical procedures for which they will receive responsibility payments.
Unison education convenor Carol Ball said, “This dispute has shown the PSA’s their own strength and that they can organise and win.”
There was a high level of participation throughout the dispute. PSAs built big, angry demonstrations outside council offices and discussed their tactics at regular huge mass meetings. They organised pickets at around 300 schools across the city, building support from parents, teachers, janitors and admin staff.
The dispute shows that unions can organise a low-paid, highly dispersed workforce and win.
Unison’s membership increased by a third during the dispute. UNISON will now engage with management to agree an implementation plan based on the revised proposals. These include commitments to training and a revised administration of medicine policy and additional payments.