Towering success for union
Thousands of council workers in Tower Hamlets, east London, struck on Thursday of last week against attacks on their employment conditions. Housing offices, parking, administration, libraries, and rent, benefits and repair services were all shut.
One-stop shops offered little but a message taking service. School kitchen staff struck, receiving widespread support from parents and teachers. The threat of industrial action had already persuaded management to back down over withdrawing leave over the Christmas period.
But Unison union members were adamant that they would strike to resist all the changes in their working conditions, such as sickness and disciplinary procedures. Postal workers, Parcelforce workers and electrical contractors refused to cross picket lines.
Many non-union and agency staff in social services also refused to work. This forced senior managers to cover. Around 150 strikers attended a lunchtime rally.
Reports from each council building told of a successful day's action. The meeting unanimously voted to send representatives from every section to a strike committee to take the action forward. Many called for joint action with the London teachers on Thursday of next week.
2,000 Unison union members in the Tory-run south London council were to begin balloting this week for strike action. Management has found Unison branch secretary Sarbani Mazumdar guilty in a disciplinary case. She denies all allegations, which came after she led a campaign against cuts in home carers' conditions.
Hundreds of people from community groups and trade unions protested last week against the closure of all-day care services for older people. Carers Action Group leader Ray McSweeney told Socialist Worker, 'This is privatisation by the back door. 'Desperately needed services are being shut down and asset stripped, while Plymouth's business leaders set up new services in the private sector.' Strikes by Unison union members and public protest saved a home for older people and a family centre from closing last year. Now Plymouth's Tory-run council is making £17 million of budget cuts, and preparing for the wholesale privatisation of all direct services
Send messages of support to City of Plymouth Unison, 190 Armada Way, Plymouth PL1 1LT. Fax 01752 661 108.
The Labour run county council has provoked widespread anger over plans to close 35 old people's homes. Over 40 people demonstrated at the council meeting in Preston on Thursday of last week. At the meeting, it emerged that the cost of refurbishing the homes-the reason for the closures-is less than the council has been saying. Socialist Alliance members have reported total opposition to the closures on town centre petitioning.