Socialist Worker

Unions plan campaign over single status in Birmingham

Issue No. 2069

A major battle is brewing in Europe’s biggest local authority.

Birmingham city council is preparing to send letters to its 40,000 workers allotting new pay grades as a result of a single status review.

And there will be outrage among many that wages will be cut for thousands of workers – including low paid women who are supposed to gain from single status.

Council bosses say that, “Staff will be asked to voluntarily accept new contracts. If they decline, it is intended that they will be dismissed and immediately reengaged on a new contract.”

Some workers could lose £10,000 a year.

The council, run by a Tory-Lib Dem coalition, admits that 12 percent of the workforce will see their wages cut.

But this figure does not take into account those whose working week is being extended – a wage cut by other means.

The trade unions are preparing their own campaign. This centres on rejection of the present package, and a fight for a policy of “no losers”.

The unions strongly agree with equal pay for women.

But they want a policy of levelling up pay for those who have been discriminated against in the past rather than raising some wages and cutting others to compensate.

Trade unions plan mass meetings and protests before the end of this month.

Strike ballots will follow unless the council is prepared to return to serious talks.

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