Hackney council workers in east London will end their next round of strikes with a rally whose line-up includes Tony Benn MP, Guardian journalist Gary Younge, Mark Serwotka, recently elected PCS general secretary and Jeremy Hardy. Strikes are planned for three days, 29-31 January, against the council's cuts and privatisation plans.
The Labour-Tory coalition that runs the council plans £50 million cuts over the next three years and further privatisation. The GMB union said last week that lost bonuses, increasing hours, fewer holidays and other attacks add up to a pay cut of £2,000 a year.
Hackney council leaders signed a £10 million contract with private firm Northgate Information Solutions last week to run computer software systems. It also stated that the disastrous ITNet would continue to have overall control of the housing benefits service. The council is asking tenants to choose between various options of cuts and rent increases in a ballot.
They are trying to give false legitimacy to the eventual announcement of big rent rises and cuts. Hackney is the clearest case of the government's policies of local 'structural adjustment'. It is neo-liberal economics at a council level. Everyone should back the strikes and argue for escalation to all-out indefinite to take on the council and New Labour.
The rally is on Wednesday 31 January at 7.30pm at the Hackney Empire on Mare Street, London E8.
Telford and Wrekin's New Labour council has launched an attack on a trade union activist and campaigner against the council's proposed cuts and job losses. Mike Jeffries, UNISON's service conditions officer, was suspended from work on Tuesday of last week.
The council has also derecognised Mike as a union officer and started a disciplinary investigation against him following a successful lobby of the council at Christmas.
UNISON was set to hold a mass meeting on Wednesday open to all trade union members. A motion calling for a ballot for industrial action was due to be discussed.
For more information phone Telford UNISON on 01952 202 588. Fax messages of support on 01952 201 427.
SCOTLAND: Over 1,300 striking council workers in Scotland returned to work on Monday as new talks between their UNISON union and Scottish councils got under way. Many activists fear union leaders may try and push through a shabby deal. Over 80,000 council workers across Scotland have staged solid one-day strikes demanding a 5 percent or £500 annual pay rise, and a guaranteed £5 an hour minimum rate for all council workers.
The union leaders restricted further strikes to all-out action by selected groups of workers. They have suspended the action to discuss a two-year pay deal, worth just 3 percent this year. The workers have already rejected this. A union reps' meeting in Inverclyde is one example of how angry workers feel. They voted overwhelmingly to condemn the suspension of the strikes and demanded the action is stepped up, including more Scotland-wide strikes. A meeting for UNISON members is planned in Edinburgh to argue for more action to win a better pay deal.
BLACKPOOL: Housing and social services staff at Blackpool council are balloting for one-day strikes against 20 compulsory redundancies. Some 150 people at a mass meeting recently voted to back a lobby of the council in February.