Over 200 people from different unions and campaigns came together to lobby Waltham Forest council on Thursday of last week.
Members of the Unison, Unite and GMB unions joined anti-cuts campaigners in a march to protest against wage cuts caused by the councils’s single status deal and the threat of job losses.
Protesters were also angry at the regime of council cuts that have hit libraries, museums and art galleries.
The largest delegations on the protest were refuse workers and school meals staff. Tommy Anderson, a Unite steward on the bins, told Socialist Worker, “We’re protesting against cuts and against the single status deal that was supposed to bring equal pay but will mean some workers, including women, losing thousands of pounds.
“We are totally opposed to single status as it stands. We believe in equal pay, but it should not be at the expense of anyone’s wages.”
Waltham Forest council has been run by a Labour/Liberal coalition for the past six years. It is currently carrying out an “efficiency review” of jobs and services. Unison members voted at their AGM last month to strike if there are any compulsory redundancies.
Speaking as protesters assembled, Waltham Forest Unison branch secretary Dave Knight said, “Our members are threatened by privatisation, wage cuts and job losses. It is outrageous that a council run by a Labour/Lib Dem alliance would make these attacks on public services. We must unite to fight together.”
Jo Cardwell, Unison branch chair, spoke on the steps of the town hall at the end of the march.
To cheers she said, “It is fantastic to see people united across the unions in the council. This is only the beginning.
“I would like to see us not only march together, but also to strike together, as they have in Birmingham council.
“The single status deal will mean huge pay cuts for many council workers – how can they say this is about equal pay?”
A school cook, who came with her workmates to the protest, told Socialist Worker, “It’s people like us that do the work while consultants live off their huge wage packets.
“We should be striking against single status and job cuts. We need to let them know they can’t get away with it.”
School meals worker Gladys added, “We need to see the union fight. We can’t let the council rob one group to pay another.”
Protesters applauded speakers from local campaigners and other trade unionists including victimised Newham Unison chair Michael Gavan and Darren O’Grady from the Waltham Forest trades council.