Socialist Worker

Shropshire council workers to ballot over cuts

Issue No. 2260

Council workers in Shropshire are to ballot for strikes over plans to sack them all to force through new contracts.

The Unison union members’ ballot begins on Tuesday of next week.

They are fighting bosses’ threats to dismiss them unless they sign up for 5 percent pay cuts and other attacks.

Alan James, Shropshire Unison assistant branch secretary, told Socialist Worker the branch has held a series of big members’ meetings.

“For the last one we got the biggest venue in Shrewsbury—the room at the football ground,” he said. “It holds 300 and we had to turn another 200 away. For Shropshire that’s huge. We were taken by surprise—it’s an indication of how people are feeling.”

He added that many members had wanted to be out with other public sector workers on 30 June. “They’ve been saying, ‘Why aren’t we striking?’” he added.

Stoked

Workers’ anger has been stoked by bosses’ swingeing attacks on their conditions.

The council is even getting rid of sick pay for the first three days of any illness.

“They’ve told us now we can only get those days of sick pay for the first time you’re ill in a year,” Alan said. “So you can only get sick once a year.”

They also want to force through worse hours, and scrap overtime and standby payments.

“They’re saying: come in and grit a road on Christmas Day for a flat rate,” said Alan. “Who wants to do that?”

The strategy of threatening workers with the sack if they don’t accept cuts was started by Birmingham City Council last year. Council workers there responded by voting to strike and came out on 30 June.

Shropshire reps voted unanimously last week for the strike ballot that Unison has given the go-ahead. The ballot will run for two weeks. A strike could be called in early August.


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Tue 12 Jul 2011, 17:04 BST
Issue No. 2260
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