Council Workers Strike
Housing officers at a Scottish council have voted in favour of strike action as their union warns of “damaging effects on work morale resulting from cuts to the housing support service”.
Around 40 Unite Scotland members working at Aberdeen City Council have supported taking industrial action.
In a ballot with a turnout of 65%, 79% voted in favour of taking strike action, while 92% supported taking industrial action short of a strike.
Unite said its members now intend to take industrial action, starting in June, after months of warning that they had reached “breaking point”.
Aberdeen Council said those voting for action represent “a small proportion” of its housing staff and that the majority have “engaged positively” with plans to improve the service.
The union blames “cuts to the housing support service along with greater pressures on the workforce due to a rise in housing arrears and homelessness figures in the local authority area” for the low morale among staff.
It said the rise in arrears is linked to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with rent arrears having risen from £2.64m in 2015/16 to £7.7m in 2020/21.
Scottish government figures show that Aberdeen Council had 1,486 homelessness applications in 2019/20, compared with 1,286 in 2015/16.
Unite said the council “presides over deeper cuts to the service at the moment when housing support services are in greatest need for the public”.
John Boland, industrial officer at Unite, said: “Unite’s members in the housing services department in Aberdeen City Council have voted to take strike action by a huge margin.
“The ballot result reflects the depressing reality that our members have taken on a massive increase in their workload while investment in the service has been continuously cut.
“Industrial action will begin in June as our members are determined to take a stand over the lack of support by Aberdeen City Council.
“We believe the public will support our members because ultimately the public and those most in need are being given a poorer service due to these cuts. Unite believes the workers and the people of Aberdeen deserve better.”
NEWS27.05.215:30 PMBY LUCIE HEATH