Socialist Worker

25,000-strong strike halts Birmingham

by Pete Jackson
Issue No. 2099

Striking refuse workers in Birmingham

Striking refuse workers in Birmingham


Birmingham was shut down on Thursday of last week – no surprise in a city with 25,000 people on strike.

Over 170 schools were shut and thousands of parents took the day off work.

For council workers it was their second day of action. On Wednesday thousands had struck against the implementation of a rotten single status pay deal.

The action closed over 60 schools, as well as neighbourhood offices, libraries, swimming pools and day care centres.

The council leaders had once again done everything possible to stop the strike, but only served to deepen the anger.

Workplaces across the city were picketed. At Springfield school, striking teaching assistants were joined by six teachers who refused to cross their picket lines.

On both days strikers gathered on key access roads into the city for lively morning street protests.

Unfortunately three out of four bin depots were working on Wednesday.

The exception was Lifford Lane depot that had a large and impressive picket.

The refuse workers had just had their contracts delivered and there was confusion about how the dispute impacts on them.

But importantly more refuse workers joined the strike on Thursday, after a flying picket closed a second depot and brought out half the workers at a third.

On the Thursday lunchtime some 3,000 workers filled Victoria Square as workers from across the city converged from their protests and picket lines.

Billions

Caroline Johnson, assistant branch secretary of Birmingham Unison, spoke at the rally. “There are billions for war, billions for Northern Rock, billions for the banks – I say to Gordon Brown, what about us?” she said to cheers.

Doug Morgan, young teachers rep for Birmingham NUT, told the rally, “I am proud to stand alongside council workers, teachers and lecturers striking together.

“The people who deserve decent pay are the people at the bottom – but it is the people at the top that get all the money.”

For our full online reports go to » Fightback Thursday: reports from Birmingham


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