Socialist Worker

Strikers build momentum in Swansea and Liverpool

Issue No. 1917

SWANSEA’S TWO week old indefinite strike by council IT workers gained fresh momentum last week.

A mass meeting of Swansea council Unison—called to discuss the IT dispute—voted for a branch-wide ballot of all 5,000 members if the council does not withdraw its privatisation plans.

The meeting of 700 council workers covered all departments and many outlying workplaces. It was one of the largest meetings in the branch’s history.

It showed how a strike by 100 union members has become a touchstone for other council workers facing privatisation.

As one speaker put it, “If IT is privatised it could be the binmen, residential homes or social services next. The best way to support IT is get up off our knees and for the branch to ballot everyone.”

The determination of the strikers has had a major impact on other council workers going to work every day. Daily strike leaflets have been produced.

“The meeting was absolutely fantastic—an amazing, electric atmosphere with speaker after speaker supporting the IT staff,” said one council worker.

“After some criticism about the short notice of last week’s picketing we expected the meeting to have some division.

“But when the proposal came to vote for solidarity, it was like a scene from a movie—a sea of hands voting for action and not one voting against.”

IT members were flying after the vote—some were close to tears. Last week’s picket forced the council to concede hours of informal and ultimately fruitless talks. The strike vote forced an equally fruitless meeting with the Liberal Democrat and independent council cabinet.

Activists should campaign for a strike vote within the branch and deliver a blow to the council that forces them to scrap the privatisation plan altogether.

MATTHEW SHEPHARD, Unison senior steward for council services (personal capacity)

Send messages of support and donations to Unison Office, The Guildhall, Swansea. For more information go to

OVER 100 social workers in the childcare and emergency duty team at Liverpool City Council remain on indefinite strike, despite increasingly vicious attacks from our bullying employers.

On Friday we heard the pay we’d earned last month had been illegally withdrawn.

Two of our delegates to talks with the management were refused admission—because they were on strike.

Managers took photographs of pickets at one site. They also sent threatening letters to strikers, warning of court action and disciplinary charges. Pickets planned to hold a demonstration wearing sacks on their heads to highlight the disgusting intimidation.

Morale remains high—and was boosted by a recent decision to hold a strike ballot for all social service workers in the council.

But we desperately need money and messages of support.

We face a triple whammy—anti-union laws brought in by the Tories, retained by Labour, then used with relish by a Lib Dem council.


Send messages of support and donations to Strike Committee, Unison, Cotton Exchange Buildings, Bixteth Street, Liverpool L3 9RJ.

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Article information

Sat 4 Sep 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1917
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