Street cleaners were in upbeat mood on the Lifford Lane depot picket line today during the strike by refuse workers in Birmingham. No workers crossed the picket line and reports from other areas confirm that the strike by Unite, GMB, Ucatt and Unison union members was solid across the city.
But the pickets were ready to stop anyone who tried to cross the line, turning away a Smurfit Kappa lorry that was trying to collect paper from the depot. Workers have been on a work to rule against the council’s plans to impose pay cuts of up to £4,000 a year, and this is the first strike in the dispute.
In an attempt to break the workers’ action, Birmingham City Council are sending in agency staff tomorrow at 10am when workers will be away from the depot on their rounds.
Strikers discussed the best strategy for dealing with this situation with opinion divided. Some argued that the depot should be shut down. Others said that they should all go to the depot at 10am to stop the scabs. And others said that there was little that they could do as it wasn’t a strike day.
Trade unionists from other workplaces joined the picket lines in solidarity. The solid strike today shows that workers are prepared to fight to win. The only response to strikebreaking by management should be to escalate the action, and for the rest of the council workforce to join the action against the bosses’ attacks.