Socialist Worker

Councils: Spread the resistance

by Roger Grigg
Issue No. 1736

All UNISON members at Kirklees council elderly people's homes went on strike on Monday of this week. The strikers are cooks, cleaners and care workers in 15 residential care homes for elderly people.

They struck to defend the quality of service for residents. Strikers were on picket lines in all the 15 care homes. The strike also has the backing of the care home residents, their families and friends, who have been on local radio stations announcing their support.

Outrageously the Labour council wants to cut the number of staff in the homes by 25 percent. This will lead to a severe deterioration of care for the residents. A delegation of Dudley hospitals strikers addressed a successful lunchtime rally of strikers, who like the Dudley workers are determined to fight to win.


Victory tastes sweet

Residents of Wellesley Road home for older people won a fantastic victory over the London Borough of Camden this week. The judge presiding over a judicial review ruled that Camden's decision to move the residents out of the home was in ignorance, and in disregard to the residents' rights for a home for life.

It is a humiliating blow to Camden council, which has closed ten homes since 1990. It had not banked on resistance from residents and supporters who have been fighting for over a year. The fight will go on, however, because the council has the right to appeal and the ruling does not prevent it from trying to close the home again. Nevertheless champagne corks were popping in the home at the news.

One resident summed it up by saying, 'What a wonderful day. I feel safe again.' This victory is a real boost to campaigns across the country.


Knowsley

Knowsley UNISON on Merseyside has called a conference to rally the resistance to the wave of attacks on council services and workers' conditions. In Knowsley council workers have already struck for three days this month over the council's attempt to increase their working week from 35 to 37 hours. They plan to strike again on 1 March. There is an outbreak of disputes across the north west of England, with strikes or ballots in Wigan, Bolton, Blackpool, Manchester and Wirral.

Dave McNally explained why Knowsley UNISON has called the conference: 'When our strike committee was discussing how to build solidarity for our dispute, it seemed obvious that with all the fights in the region we should get council workers together to spread and deepen the resistance. '

UNISON, the TGWU, GMB and UCATT in Knowsley are holding a rally on 5 March to build for a coordinated ballot for strike action to win a 35-hour week for all. 'The 31 March conference is a brilliant way of beginning to put a 35-hour week for every council in the country on the national agenda.'

Details of the conference, messages of support and donations to: Knowsley UNISON, 71 Admin Buildings, Admin Road, Kirkby, Knowsley, Merseyside L33 7TX.

Phone 0151 548 0148 or fax 0151 545 0563.


Wigan

Wigan council workers lobbied the Labour council last week. The council has threatened to sack workers who refuse to sign new contracts which mean a 2 percent pay cut. Around 300 people marched around the town hall chanting, 'New Labour, oId Tories,' and 'Strike, strike, strike'. The council was forced to change rooms to continue with its business. UNISON members will be balloted for strike action this week.
DAVE LOWE


Round-up

Over 100 UNISON members and users of services staged a lively protest against Edinburgh City Council's plan to cut £6.5 million from its budget on Thursday of last week. Services for the disabled, the elderly and children are all under attack. Two busloads of parents and workers came from the children's centre in Wester Hailes and Craigmillar with banners and placards. Under pressure the council agreed that no children's centres would be cut. But they refused to stop all the cuts.
IAN HOOD


Strike action by 900 housing and social services UNISON union members at Blackpool council has won concessions. The strikes followed an announcement of 20 compulsory redundancies. Management have now been forced to extend the notice period of the workers who have not been redeployed or found other jobs.
Blackpool UNISON MEMBER


Housing workers in Manchester are set to continue their campaign against the closure of 14 local housing offices. A recent one-day strike forced the council to agree to consultation over each individual office closure. The UNISON housing shop stewards committee plans to lobby every member of the council's executive and scrutiny committee. We also plan to hold a series of local meetings with local MPs and councillors to debate with UNISON and tenants.
RICHARD SEARLE, convenor Manchester housing shop stewards committee (personal capacity)


UNISON members at Telford & Wrekin council are gearing up to campaign for a yes vote for strike action. The ballot has been called to oppose the victimisation of local UNISON officer Mike Jeffries. He has been suspended for six weeks, following a lobby of the council before Christmas to oppose job losses and service cuts.

Fax messages of support and campaign petitions to Telford UNISON on 01952 201 427.


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Article information

News
Sat 24 Feb 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1736
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