Socialist Worker

'We'll fight till we win over London weighting'

by Paul McGarr
Issue No. 1877

HUNDREDS OF members of the public sector workers' Unison union across 12 London boroughs began a week-long strike on Monday. The strike is the latest phase of their long-running battle over London weighting.

This week's action follows the strike of tens of thousands of Unison members working for councils across London on 16 October, which coincided with a one-day strike by London postal workers over the same issue.

Those out this week were mainly schools support staff, although in some boroughs other groups were out as part of the selective action.

More Unison members, again mainly in schools, will be pulled out on strike for a week each over the coming weeks.

And this week the union's strike committee was discussing plans for a two-day strike of all council staff in Unison this December.

At a 100-strong strike rally in east London on Monday of this week strikers from Tower Hamlets and Newham were in determined mood.

They were boosted when some drivers from the council's transport department arrived at the strike rally after having refused to cross picket lines.

One of the drivers, Steve, told Socialist Worker, 'You don't cross picket lines. It's as simple as that and it's the only way to do things.'

Aisha, a striker from Phoenix School in Bow, explained, 'We are out on strike because we want our pay increased. We get £2,000 a year London weighting and we want it increased to £4,000. Our living expenses are the same the as police who get over £6,000 London weighting, and we deserve the money.'

Shahina, also from Phoenix, agreed: 'Things are getting more expensive all the time, housing, transport, general living. We are low paid and we deserve the money.'

Theresa from Culloden School in Poplar was there with a big delegation of strikers: 'There are 22 of us out in the school. This fight has been going on for a long time now but we are as determined as ever. We are not giving up. If you believe in something you fight it through to the end and until you win. We have had good support from the teachers in our school. They wish they could be out with us and they have done a collection for us.'

John McLoughlin, chair of Tower Hamlets Unison, addressed the strikers and won a good response arguing, 'This government finds plenty of money when it suits them. They found billions for war but not for public services. They found money to bail out British Nuclear Fuels but not for us. We are saying we are not going away. We are not giving up. We are determined to win.'

He also won applause when he argued, 'The postal workers have given us a good lesson in how to fight and win.'

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Article information

Sat 15 Nov 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1877
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