Socialist Worker

Fight councils' attack on sick

Issue No. 1677

HARINGEY council again faced strike action this week by thousands of workers. This was despite the Labour council's attempt to head off action by a crude repackaging of its attack on workers. Workers in the UNISON and TGWU unions struck again on Tuesday, and planned a march on the town hall when the action continued on Wednesday.

This week's strike follows the successful one day strike last week. The rattled council suggested it would drop some of the worst attacks, such as plans to axe sick pay for the first two days off and cut maternity pay. It also said it would drop the plan to axe manual workers' London weighting, extra payment for the added cost of living in the capital. GMB union officials called off their support for the action this week to 'negotiate', which angered ordinary GMB members.

But the council's 'retreat' was a con. It still wants to push through £2.25 million of cuts. It plans to cut holiday entitlement from all workers. UNISON and TGWU members were appealing to GMB members to support their action.

Messages of support: Haringey UNISON, 48 Grand Parade, Green Lanes, London N4 1AG. Fax 0181 880 1429.

COUNCIL workers in Wandsworth are set to ballot on more strikes against a savage attack on sick pay from their Tory council. The move, backed by a vote at the workers' UNISON union branch, came as the council showed the first signs of wobbling in the face of resistance.

A lobby of the council meeting was supported by delegations from other UNISON branches across London last week. It succeeded in forcing the council to postpone a decision until 26 January. The Tories want to force workers to either lose pay or work for free if they have more than a few days off sick. They also want to make workers' annual leave entitlement dependent on their sick record.


WORKERS AND tenants in the Midlands erupted in fury this week after Ashfield council launched a major attack on union organisation. The Labour controlled council suspended the joint branch secretary of the UNISON branch for opposing its plans to privatise council housing. Richard Buckwell was barred from council premises after his suspension on Wednesday of last week. His supposed crime is joining in a 'media campaign' against housing privatisation.

This blatant victimisation is the latest stage in the battle over housing in Ashfield. A week ago council chiefs told housing workers that private consultants were to be brought in to produce a report in which 'nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out'. Local tenants rushed out press statements and leaflets, and called a lobby of the council.

Richard Buckwell was then summonsed by council managers and asked if he was involved. He has been suspended while an investigation takes place. Some 150 UNISON members attended a meeting called at short notice and launched petitions. They lobbied the council on Monday of this week and were set to join tenants in a lobby of a full council meeting on Thursday. National UNISON leaders need to throw the union's full weight behind Richard.

Lobby Ashfield council, Thursday 16 December, Council Offices, Kirkby in Ashfield.

Fax messages of support to Ashfield UNISON and of protest to Ian Dethick, head of housing, both on 01623 457 530. For petitions, speakers etc ring Ashfield UNISON on 01623 450000.

Roddy Slorach

RODDY SLORACH lodged his appeal this week against being expelled from the UNISON union. He will now have to wait for a hearing date to be set by the union's leaders. Roddy faces expulsion for leading successful strike action against Glasgow's New Labour council.

The action, by workers in the social work department in 1998, defied anti-union laws and UNISON union leaders who condemned the strike. Ever since then Glasgow council and UNISON leaders have conducted a vendetta against Roddy. The council suspended Roddy earlier this year and has victimised several of his workmates. A factsheet is available on Roddy's case. Everyone should get copies and collect signatures on petitions demanding Roddy's expulsion is overturned.

Fax protests to UNISON general secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe on 0171 387 6692.

Factsheets and petitions from and messages of support to: Hands off Roddy Campaign, c/o Biggar, 255 Allison Street, Glasgow G42 8AH.


HOME HELPS in Derbyshire were set to lobby their Labour controlled council on Thursday of this week in their fight against being 'electronically tagged'. The council wants home help workers to log in and out of each appointment. The workers began a boycott of the tagging system last month. The council then threatened to dock the home helps' pay. But it has been forced to retreat by the hundreds of protesters who marched through Chesterfield in protest last month.

The workers also voted by 93.3 percent in a ballot for action against the council's 'Big Brother' attitude. The council now says no pay will be docked until January. The pressure needs to be kept up to force the council to ditch its pay threat and drop the tagging system.

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Sat 18 Dec 1999, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1677
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