The looming confrontation between Birmingham council and 40,000 of its workers will move a step closer this week when two important trade union meetings take place.
The council is on a collision course following a decision to impose new employment contracts in October.
Bosses have said they will dismiss any employee who does not “voluntarily” accept the contract and offer re-employment on the new terms.
The new contracts are the result of a pay and grading review required by the local government single status agreement.
The Tory and Liberal Democrat council has used this review as an excuse to mount a vicious onslaught on pay and working conditions.
Over 12 percent of the workforce face pay cuts, some in excess of £10,000.
All pay will become “performance related” affecting both future increases and allowing pay deductions for poor performance.
Some workers who stand to gain as a result of the equal pay element of the review will be forced to work longer hours. Bonus payments and other pay supplements are also under attack.
Against this background, the decision of all five unions involved to organise a joint mass meeting of stewards to coordinate opposition, including the possibility of joint strike action, demonstrates the sort of unity that will be needed to win this battle.
This will be followed by mass meetings of the 14,000 strong Unison union branch to discuss a resolution opposing the new contracts and calling on the national union to organise a strike ballot.
As one Unison activist said, “This dispute will unite the entire workforce, from architects to refuse workers and street cleaners to committee clerks.
“Though the bosses have tried the usual divide and rule tactics, so far they have failed.”