Socialist Worker

All out for a decent future

MEMBERS OF Britain’s biggest union are engaged in two indefinite strikes which should be a focus for solidarity by council workers across the country. The strikes by Unison union members in Swansea and Liverpool come after an indefinite strike

Issue No. 1916

THE INDEFINITE strike by Swansea IT workers escalated last week as official picket lines were placed on three major council workplaces.

Just under 100 IT staff are on strike due to attempts by the Labour-controlled council to privatise the service.

Scab labour in the form of private company ITNet is maintaining the council’s IT system.

Unison is instructing all its members not to use the IT help desk or any equipment repaired by outside contractors.

Striking staff have been producing daily strike bulletins, lobbying other staff outside Swansea’s Guildhall and County Hall, and have set up their own website.

Picket lines went up last week for one day after the council refused to negotiate with the union.

The picketing was a great success with hundreds of members in the Guildhall and County Hall refusing to cross.

The Pipehouse depot of bin workers and road sweepers was at a complete standstill.

Matthew Shephard, senior Unison steward for social services, told Socialist Worker, “The picketing was as successful as our national pay dispute two years ago and reflects the angry mood of council staff.

“We even had some social services offices not being picketed asking to come out as well.

“Some staff who did cross picket lines came out once they realised their colleagues had not crossed.

“The Pipehouse depot of TGWU, GMB and Unison union members was solid in unofficial solidarity with the strikers.

“It was a welcome and dramatic show of support which was a shock to the council.”

The Swansea Evening Post headline was “Union Threatens City-Wide Strike”.

As Socialist Worker went to press informal talks and further mass meetings were underway. The key is broadening the dispute and activists were considering this.


Indefinite strike begins in Liverpool

SOCIAL WORKERS in the childcare and emergency duty team in Liverpool City Council began all-out indefinite strike action on Tuesday of this week.

The 160 council workers feel they have no alternative to striking as a brutal management, under direction from the city’s Liberal Democrat council, try to cut vital services.

Management are bullying staff into accepting job cuts and extra duties, and replacing experienced workers with, in effect, agency staff.

Back in February the same group of workers walked out, but suspended their action when the council made concessions.

But as soon as the local elections were over, the council reneged on all their promises.

The striking social workers, all members of the Unison union, are furious at how they are being treated, and want the action to spread across the council.

At a mass meeting Lisa, who works in admin, said management “don‘t care who they hurt. They think technology can do everything.

“Money is more important to them than people’s lives.”

Management showed their attitude on one city centre picket line. The union was warned it could only have six pickets. Twelve managers, who acted like security guards, surrounded them.

Worker in other sections, like mental health, are desperate to join the strike and are to be balloted for all-out action.

Many feel it is taking too long—they say the union should escalate and spread the action now, and not leave the strikers on their own for up to a month.

NIGEL DAVEY


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Sat 28 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1916
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