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Council loses bid to block Games bonus row protests

A local authority has lost a bid to win a court order aimed at blocking a Commonwealth Games pay protest outside its city chambers.

Glasgow council sought an interim interdict ahead of two intended demonstrations in the city centre and at the city's Kelvingrove Museum scheduled for today and tomorrow.

But a senior judge refused the move for an interim interdict at the Court of Session in Edinburgh taking into account human rights law.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Carloway, said: "Having regard to the convention rights of freedom of speech and assembly the court is not persuaded on the material presented to it that the intended protest carries with it any form of illegality."

Ian Truscott QC said the order sought was intended to limit to six people employed at the museum the number of pickets at the attraction in the West End of the city and to have no pickets at the City Chambers.

He said that was on the basis that none of the employees at the City Chambers was involved in the dispute.

"This is a dispute about the Commonwealth Games delivery package payment and industrial action was in contemplation at least to the point of a ballot," he told the court.

He said that had been called off last week when it was pointed out that the ballot did not comply with relevant legislation.

He referred the judge to a notice sent out by the union Unison to its members. Protests had been scheduled at the museum for lunchtime today and at the city chambers tomorrow Members were advised to attend in their own time.

"What we basically have is an invitation, if I can put it in the most general terms, to members of Unison to attend at these two places at these two times."

Mr Truscott said: "Even if there were support in a ballot it would not permit the unrestricted type of protest that appears to be envisaged here."

He said it was disingenuous to suggest that the protest would not seek to induce people who were continuing to work not to do so.

"What the petitioners seek to interdict is the protestors seeking to induce other members of Unison or members or other unions from working normally," he said.

"This is a protest by union members to seek to disrupt the employer and the city council who have not acceded to their pay demand," he said.

But Neil Beardmore, counsel for the trade union, urged the court to refuse the motion.

He said there was no attempt being made to economically interfere with contracts of employment or working practices.

"There is no inducement by them to get members of staff to break anything," he said.

"If there is no underlying wrong what is it that it is to be interdicted against," he asked.

"The activity is a protest. It is a protest by members of staff," said Mr Beardmore.

He argued that if there was no underlying wrong then there was no legitimate basis for the court to interfere with any right of expression.

UNISON Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said: "The judge has ruled that the council and Glasgow Life were wrong in their view that UNISON members were acting outside the law.

"People have a right to peaceful protest in their own time. We'd call on Glasgow Life and the council to work with the trade union to address the underlying issues rather than spending money in the courts."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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