Socialist Worker

Fightback Thursday: reports from Birmingham

by Pete Jackson
Issue No. 2098

Birmingham council workers on strike  (Pic: Peter Jackson)

Birmingham council workers on strike (Pic: Peter Jackson)

There is far less traffic on the roads of Birmingham today as the city has essentially shut down. That’s no surprise in a city with 25,000 people on strike.

One out of every 15 workers in the city is taking action.

Over 170 schools are shut and thousands of parents are taking the day off work.

On Soho Road the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) office has PCS union pickets. Two minutes walk away the city college has UCU lecturers picking and next door the library is closed. At 10am council workers gathered and were joined by lecturers for a lively street protest.

All were heading into the city centre later in the day for a rally.

For council workers it was the second day of action. On Wednesday thousands of council workers struck against the implementation of a single status pay deal. Over 60 schools were shut, joining neighbourhood offices, libraries, swimming pools and day care centres.

The council leaders had once again done everything possible to stop the strike, even releasing a nine minute video, which only served to deepen the anger.

Many workplaces were picketed. At Springfield school striking Teachers Assistants were joined by six teachers who refused to cross their picket lines.

At 10am strikers gathered on key access roads into the city for street protests. At Handsworth Library about 30 strikers gathered and half the passing cars tooted their support. There was no doubting the popularity of the strike. Similar numbers gathered at Broad Street to an excellent response. Kings Heath had over 30 and got a positive response.

Unfortunately three out of four bin depots were working on Wednesday. The exception was Lifford Lane depot which had a big picket.

The refuse workers have just had their contracts delivered and there is confusion about how the dispute impacts on them. Importantly more refuse workers joined the strike today, after a flying picket closed a second depot and brought half the workers at a third out.

Local socialist election candidate Raghib Ahsan toured the pickets in Handsworth, bringing support to the strikers. People were very pleased to see a candidate visiting them. Raghib, a Unite branch secretary, said “There was an excellent mood on the picket lines and street protest I visited today. We have been petitioning for support for the council workers as we canvass and they have enormous support.”

Picket by Birmingham council workers  (Pic: Peter Jackson)

Picket by Birmingham council workers (Pic: Peter Jackson)

Teachers striking in Birmingham

Teachers striking in Birmingham

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