Some 200 workers from the bins and street cleansing sections of Sandwell council in the West Midlands demonstrated at the council cabinet meeting on Wednesday of last week.
They were protesting about the planned privatisation of their services by the Labour dominated council. The decision was made at a Labour group meeting three weeks ago.
In response 280 workers, out of a possible 360, attended an angry joint union meeting organised by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions.
Unite wrote to all the Labour councillors raising their concerns about the effect of privatisation on the service, and complaining that some workers stand to lose £4,000 a year.
The letter reminded the councillors about their opposition to privatisation during the Thatcher years. Only two councillors bothered to reply.
Brian Rickers, Unite-T&G convenor, told Socialist Worker, “I want to say to the councillors they should think about the people who voted them in because they can also vote them out. The workforce will fight this.”
Graham Monnes and Mary Weller from street cleansing said, “All the Labour councillors have the same first name – Judas.”
Unison steward Steve Lane added, “Public services should be run by the public. Where they’ve employed private contractors in the NHS, we’ve seen MRSA, lower wages and longer working hours.
“The only reason the private sector want to take us on is for more profit, so the directors can become millionaires.”
Unite-T&G steward Ismael Mohammed said, “This is about respect, about dignity.
“If we are privatised they’ll make a profit and chuck us in the bin. We must unite the people of Sandwell and the workforce.”