More than 3,000 council workers voted unanimously for a strike ballot at four mass meetings in Birmingham on Tuesday of last week.
They vowed to vigorously campaign for a yes vote in an official ballot.
The mass meetings were called to discuss the council’s cuts proposals—removing allowances, including those for shifts, night work and anti-social hours, as well as imposing new ultra-flexible contracts.
Management have tried to make out that “over-paid” council workers are just whingeing about losing out on car allowances and other “perks”.
But this is a totally distorted picture. The council’s proposals will hit the lowest-paid workers the hardest.
Care workers would lose up to a third of their pay—at a time when the council has already spent £60 million on consultants this financial year.
Library workers, home carers, park rangers and gravediggers told about how they were losing up to £4,000 from already low salaries.
One support worker said, “I love my job, it’s my life. But I won’t be able to carry on doing it. And it’s not just my job—this is an attack on all the working class people of Birmingham. If we don’t take action there’ll be nothing left.”
The branch leadership and members have shown they are willing to fight. We are now demanding a ballot and the backing of the regional and national union officials, many of whom now realise that they have no choice but to fight.
As one of the mobile night carers put it: “I’m fearful for my job. But I’m also angry.
Senior managers are curled up in their feather-bedded suburbia dreaming about their £100,000+ salaries while we’re out in all conditions providing a service for vulnerable people.”
“We’re ruled by a bunch of crooks.”
The mood of the meeting was clear, and none of the speakers pulled any punches about the need for strikes.
Tens of new stewards were recruited and six further coaches filled to go to the TUC protest on 26 March—which makes eight coaches so far.
Birmingham Against the Cuts and the Unison union have called a local demonstration on 26 February and a lobby of a council meeting on 1 March.
There now needs to be a prompt ballot and a strong campaign for a yes vote. This can prepare the ground for the kind of industrial action that can stop the cuts this Con-Dem council wants to impose on the people of Birmingham.