Socialist Worker

Local Government striking back against single status deals

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2095


Birmingham

Council workers in Birmingham are gearing up for resumed strike action over pay cuts being imposed in the council’s single status pay deal.

Three separate strike dates are being considered as the unions step up their action to cause maximum political impact ahead of the council elections – Wednesday, 16 April, Thursday 24 April,

to coincide with the national teachers’ strike, and Wednesday 30 April, the eve of polling day.

This follows mass meetings at which union members, including refuse workers, teaching assistants, cleaners, office staff and care workers, overwhelmingly rejected the latest offer from council bosses.

The dispute is over the pay and grading system imposed on Tuesday of this week, which will see many workers lose pay. Others will lose bonuses, have their jobs altered, or receive only mniscule pay rises.

A one-day strike on 5 February saw 20,000 workers from across the unions stopped work.

Tory councillor Alan Rudge, who has headed up the single status farce in the city, has resorted to desperate

red-baiting. He has repeatedly complained that meetings had been infiltrated by “extremists”, including members of the Socialist Workers Party.

Chair of the joint trade unions committee Steve Foster said, “They wrote to staff praising the new offer, but are imposing the old terms.

“Why are they still going ahead with the old contracts? We put the new offer to members and, if anything, their resolve has strengthened against the new contracts.”


Leeds

Refuse workers in Leeds are planning to strike in the week before the local elections over pay cuts of up to £120 a week.

Refuse teams and street cleansing workers in the GMB union are balloting for strike action. The ballot ends on 16 April.

The action will start a week later in the run-up to the 1 May local elections.

Refuse workers face large pay cuts under the council’s single status deals and staged an unofficial stoppage last October.

Bill Chard, GMB regional organiser, said, “It is a disgrace that workers are being threatened with these huge cuts to their wages.

“We demonstrated outside the civic hall a couple of weeks ago to let the mix of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who make up the ruling alliance know the strength of feeling of our members.”


Blackburn and Darwen council

Workers in the GMB union at Blackburn and Darwen council are voting for strike action over imposed pay cuts for 1,300 workers.

Workers have been sent “redundancy” notes, giving them a 90-day deadline to accept their new contract or face the sack.

All three unions with members at the council have rejected the council’s single status deal. Lower-paid council staff are being hit particularly hard.

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act shows that 309 people earning less than £15,000 a year face cuts, with 698 of the losers’ – more than half of the total – earning less than £20,000 a year.

Almost all of the 1,266 workers facing cuts earn less than £30,000 a year.

Some 646 people will have their wages cut by more than 10 percent.

Tom Fallows, GMB east Lancashire branch secretary, said, “This is robbing the poor to pay the poor.

“It is a botched attempt to introduce the long needed equal pay for our women members.”


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News
Tue 1 Apr 2008, 19:27 BST
Issue No. 2095
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