Some 7,500 council workers in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, have voted for a strike. And their regional Unison union officials have said they will recommend this is now turned into hard-hitting action.
The vote was 53 percent for action – despite no compulsory redundancies being announced, the union making it clear that a five-day strike would follow a yes vote, the council making concessions during the ballot period, and harsh weather making it very difficult to campaign and hold meetings.
On receiving the result, a Unison stewards' meeting voted 51 to nil for a strike. The regional Unison leadership have now said they will recommend a strike to the national industrial action committee.
This is likely to mean a strike early in 2011.
The Labour-led council originally said it would have to make 2,600 job cuts and that it expected around 1,800 to be compulsory. It also said that a 'poor' sickness record could bar people from reapplying for their jobs when redundancies were on the cards.
The union has contested this all the way. It has recommended that members do not apply for voluntary redundancy and demanded that the £40 million of work contracted to private firms is brought back in-house.
The council has now said that no compulsory redundancy notices will be issued before 1 April 2011. However, council officials still want to be able to use sickness as a selection criterion for redundancy.
Nick Ruff, chair of Kirklees Unison, told Socialist Worker, “We are going to fight for jobs and against this unfair selection procedure. There is a realisation that there are a lot more cuts and attacks to come – and if we don’t stand up and fight now we’ll be annihilated.
“I have no doubt that the confidence people gained from the student revolt tipped the balance for action. Now stewards have made it clear they want action.
'I hope everyone will get behind our fight.'
Send messages of support to Kirklees Unison, Union House, 20 Queen St, Huddersfield HD1 2SP