Socialist Worker

Councils - from Birmingham to Doncaster, we can win

Issue No. 2259

Unison strikers in Brimingham (Pic: Geoff Dexter)

Unison strikers in Brimingham (Pic: Geoff Dexter)

One picket line in Birmingham summed up the 30 June spirit of unity and solidarity—even though there were only two people on it.

It was at a refuse collection depot. The solitary Unison member on the site picketed, and was joined by union rep Caroline Johnson.

Not one single member of the other unions there—Unite and the GMB—crossed that picket line.

That day, council workers across Birmingham and Doncaster, and many sections in Southampton, joined the united walkouts.

Workers in each of the areas held a joint rally with other strikers. Up to 10,000 workers joined the strike rally and march through Birmingham city centre.

The council workers struck over cuts to pay, conditions and jobs.

Rajinder Jutley is a home care assistant and a member of Unison in Birmingham. “I’m going to lose over £3,000,” she told Socialist Worker. “They want us to work day and night for lower wages.”


She explained that the new contract the council wants to force through would mean workers doing any job in their grade. “So one day I could be in home care and the next day a street sweeper,” she said.

And she added, “We’re here against the cuts—all the cuts. We’re so proud to be out with the other unions, all supporting each other.”

There were 90 people on the picket line at the Lifford House offices. Unite union members and teachers joined them.

As managers drove up, workers chanted “strike, strike, strike”—and as the managers passed it changed to “scab, scab, scab”.

Audrey, a care worker, told Socialist Worker, “The pay cuts that they are taking off us come to £2,000.

“The quality of the care will drop, and end up with anyone desperate for a job. The big nobs get the money while ordinary people suffer.”

In Doncaster, masses of people were turned back by the picket lines.

Workers from across the council held a joint strike rally and then joined a march together with workers from across the region.

“The speakers were great, calling for more coordinated action,” said Unison branch secretary Jim Board.

That will be key. The council workers who are fighting back need to strike again as soon as possible.

Everybody else should follow their example.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.