Over 3,500 strikers attended a lively rally in Birmingham city centre. Large groups of homecare workers and teaching assistants joined manual and office workers in demanding the deal is scrapped.
Unison union assistant branch secretary Caroline Johnson addressed the rally, saying, “Gordon Brown found billions for war. He’s found £55 billion for Northern Rock. He could find the money for council workers.
“The council are scared of another Winter of Discontent. Well it’s winter and we’re discontented – so they are right to be scared.”
Strikers were joined by solidarity delegations from Unison branches in Staffordshire, Coventry and Wolverhampton as well as Birmingham NUT teachers’ union and Birmngham PCS civil service workers’ union branches.
The strike and rally showed the determination of workers from all sections of the council not to be intimidated into accepting any more attacks from the council.
Alongside the issue of wage cuts, there is a fight over back pay. Women whose pay is being raised to catch up with men’s wages will get at best three years’ back pay. They ought to get six years’ pay, plus interest.
“Women who are not getting their back pay are fighting alongside others who are having their wages cut,” a worker from the council tax office told Socialist Worker.
All the unions involved in the strike say they are committed to continuing the fight against this rotten single status deal.
They are determined to take further, even stronger, industrial action if necessary.
One library worker who is gaining under the deal told Socialist Worker, “The council think they can get away with anything they want. We will prove them wrong.”