Council workers across Nottinghamshire struck on Thursday of last week—becoming the first full council workforce to walk out against Tory cuts.
The 3,000 Unison union members are fighting 1,000 compulsory redundancies.
Tory council leader Kay Cutts called it a “faux strike” that would have no effect. But she was completely wrong.
Martin Sleath, Unison joint branch secretary, said, “Some doubt whether we can win by taking action. But if you take action, you can win—if you don’t you’ll lose every time.”
Pickets were at County Hall from early in the morning, covering all the entrances. There were also pickets at other council sites and many services were closed.
In Sutton-in-Ashfield up to 60 pickets gathered at the council’s Lawn View House.
Later that morning the union laid on coaches from across Nottinghamshire to bring strikers to the city centre.
Up to 1,000 union members, together with other local trade unionists and campaigners, marched on the council. They held a noisy rally outside as councillors voted on the budget.
The protesters chanted “No ifs, no buts, no county council cuts” and “What do we want? Cutts out!”
“You are showing the way for the fightback,” Unison head of local government Heather Wakefield told the crowd. “Be afraid Kay Cutts, be very afraid.”
Alan Rhodes, leader of the Labour opposition on the council, also spoke to the rally. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with you,” he said. “We will be voting against this budget today.”
It was pointed out that while Labour was voting against cuts on the county council, it was voting them through on Nottingham city council.
The strike has put down a marker. Union members will meet over the next few weeks to discuss the next steps in the campaign.
Don’t sell our homes
Pensioners’ groups and day centre users joined the Nottinghamshire strikers’ march to protest against Kay Cutts’ brutal attacks.
Across the county she is closing 35 specialist day centres and selling off elderly people’s homes.
In the centres that are left almost half the staff will go—and there will be no meals or drinks provision unless it makes a profit.
Jane Larkin told Socialist Worker, “I attend a local day centre for people with mental health problems. They’re trying to close us down. We’re here with some of the staff to show our support.”
Dawn Betts, who goes to Mind day centre, said, “It’s been a lifeline. I don’t want to be walking the streets again. Please, please save our centres.”
And John Hunt, whose mother and father are residents of a council-run care home, spoke out against plans to sell it.
“The only care homes that matter are the council ones,” he said. “They’re the only ones that look after the elderly.”