Socialist Worker

Strike action can beat single status

Issue No. 2088

On strike in Argyll and Bute against single status last week (Pic: Duncan Brown)

On strike in Argyll and Bute against single status last week (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Council workers in Birmingham are set to take further action over the Tory-Liberal Democrat council’s implementation of job cuts under the guise of single status.

Last week saw a magnificently solid strike with up to 20,000 workers taking action.

As a result of the campaign over 1,500 workers have joined the Unison union.

Council workers are lobbying the surgeries of the Liberal and Tory councillors in the next two weeks.

The council has threatened to implement new contracts on 31 March, which has provided an urgency to step up the pressure on the council.

Workers in a range of unions all stood together last week and are determined to take on the council. They were members of the Unison, Ucatt, Amicus and T&G sections of Unite, and the GMB.

The Birmingham deal would mean 110 women losing more than £10,000 a year. Across the council, there are twice as many women as men facing pay cuts.

The single status deal claimed to put right years of injustice where women were paid less than men.

Across Britain, councils are pushing through attacks on workers through single status.

Birmingham is the largest fight yet against the harsh reality of single status.

As well as building support for Birmingham other workers should follow their lead. That could get workers equal and fair pay for all.


Impending job cuts as a result of a new corporate plan being put forward by the minority Liberal council in Ashfield were met with a lively picket of the council meeting on Thursday of last week by Unison union members.

This is the result of a “movement of resources” to fund more street cleaners and parks workers – at the expense of other workers jobs.

The meeting had to be adjourned for a minutes. Agreement was only reached with it being minuted that the council had to negotiate with the trade unions before any proposals to axe jobs are made.

Richard Buckwell

Argyll and Bute

At a mass meeting in Dunoon, 300 members of the Unison and Unite unions voted to suspend their strike against the imposition of the single status deal by Argyll and Bute council.

The council has apparently agreed to move away from an imposition of the new contracts to collective agreement, but there were no details.

As one worker put it, “There’s a lot of maybes but nothing has been resolved.”

A sizeable minority of the workers were unhappy with the decision and particularly with the direction given from the top table.

Road workers set to lose £1,600 off their basic pay were angry that management were protected from any such wage cut.

Workers are now left to fight their job evaluations through an individual appeals process. As one classroom assistant asked from the floor, “If single status was a national agreement, why did Unison not take it on nationally?”

Another school worker said, “I voted for single status because I supported equal pay, I didn’t know we would have to pay for it ourselves.”

One carer said, “We all do the same job, yet some of us are on £8 an hour, some of us are on £10 an hour.”

Eileen Boyle

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Article information

Tue 12 Feb 2008, 19:06 GMT
Issue No. 2088
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