PLANS FOR major strikes against privatisation were given a boost on Monday, when over 500 UNISON members in Newcastle City Council voted for action. This will now trigger a one-day strike, probably on Friday 28 September, which could see up to 9,000 workers out across the city. The workers balloted are mainly staff in information technology and street lighting departments of the Labour-run council.
They face the direct threat of privatisation. The strikers' union branch is picketing on 28 September and asking other UNISON members to refuse to cross picket lines. Local branch convenors of the AEEU, TGWU, GMB and UCATT unions in the council have also backed the strike and called on their members not to cross picket lines.
A rally will be held on the day of action, which is two days before the protest planned over privatisation at Labour's conference in Brighton. City council UNISON branch secretary Kenny Bell told Socialist Worker, 'Privatisation's effects are being felt right across council services. This will be a major strike aimed at bringing this home to trade union and Labour Party leaders.'
SEFTON COUNCIL on Merseyside is under tremendous pressure, with workers poised to escalate strikes unless the closure of old people's and children's homes is reversed.
The council has closed seven homes this year. Over 1,000 social services staff in the UNISON union have staged a series of strikes in recent months. The finance department, has also voted to join the dispute. National UNISON leaders are ready to back an all-out strike in social services and finance.
Nigel Flanagan, the convenor of Sefton UNISON, told Socialist Worker, 'The ball is now in the council's court. There is determination at local and national level to escalate the action unless there is a settlement which addresses our concerns.'
Sefton workers have been right to strike in defence of care for those in need. They have shown that it is possible to stand up against the closures and fight back.
MIKE JEFFRIES, an officer for the Telford UNISON union, who was sacked in July, has won his interim relief tribunal. The council was found to have sacked Mike for trade union duties and to have failed in its health and safety responsibilities.
Although the tribunal chair said that he should be reinstated, Telford & Wrekin council is refusing to take him back. Telford UNISON has started to consult members over a ballot for one-day strike action.
Fax messages of support to Telford UNISON on 01952 201 247.
APCOA, a private company running parking enforcement in Camden, central London, last week suspended Marcus Xbah- Rah, a UNISON union shop steward. There was to be a lobby of APCOA's offices on Tuesday of this week in support of Marcus.
LOCAL campaigners have maintained a round the clock protest at Swiss Cottage market square in central London in opposition to Camden council's plans down a local market and reduce sport and recreation facilities.
WORKERS AND service users were set to demonstrate outside Hackney Town Hall in east London this week against the council's plans to slash grants to the voluntary sector. The cuts mean closures of adventure playgrounds, advice groups, groups for the elderly and children, groups that represent ethnic minorities, and many, many others.
These cuts follow the council's moves to sack 349 workers. The Labour council has also sacked Noah Tucker, an official of the local UNISON union. Local government secretary Stephen Byers is considering whether central government should take over some or all of the council's functions. The Labour councillors' 'summer offensive' is to prove that they can be ruthless.
This is now a key moment for the union. The strike ballot that began this Wednesday over Noah Tucker's sacking has to be won.
Rally: Tuesday 18 September, 7.30pm, Round Chapel, corner of Powerscroft Road and Lower Clapton Road. Speakers include Tony Benn.