Scotland: Nursery nurses indefinite strike

Last Friday saw up to 4,000 defiant nursery nurses, parents and supporters demonstrating on the streets of Glasgow for a decent pay deal. The protest marked the fifth day of indefinite strike action by Scotland’s nursery nurses.

The nursery nurses have been subjected to a week of scare-mongering in the media by politicians, COSLA and department heads. They were hoping that public opinion, in particular the parents of children in the nurseries, would turn against these workers.

They have completely underestimated not only the resolve of the nursery nurses but the widespread support that exists for these women. The demonstration was very important in demonstrating that support and determination. Banners and placards from across the country were evident, not just from UNISON, but other unions, parents and children many of whom had made their own.

There was a rally at the end with speakers from different unions. But the best response was for the speakers from the FBU and an ex-miner. The FBU speaker commented that this was one of the most determined, noisy and colourful demonstration he had witnessed for a long time. He also announced that the FBU has, so far, raised £13,000 for the strikers!

The ex-miner got a rapturous applause. It was 20 years to the day that the national miners strike started in Cortonwood colliery in Yorkshire. Many of these nursery nurses are looking at the lessons of that strike and how it relates to them.

If the mood of this demo and indeed the response from the public is anything to go by then COSLA and the councils are in for a real battle. A victory for these women will send a real message to other low paid workers, in particular women, that if you fight you can win.

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March 2004