Striking Birmingham council workers took their fight to the Liberal Democrats today (Wednesday)—on the day of Nick Clegg’s keynote speech defending cuts.
The Unison members are fighting a new contract with savage pay cuts being enforced on them by the city’s Tory/Lib Dem coalition council.
After a morning of strong pickets hundreds of workers marched from the town hall to protest outside the Lib Dem’s conference nearby.
“We’re losing up to £5,000 a year,” home care assistant and union rep Sarah told Socialist Worker.
“It’s going to push people into poverty, people are very, very angry. They’re taking away people’s mortgage money.
“Imagine if you had to go home and tell your partner you were losing £5,000. What would you do?”
The council plans to force through the new contracts at the start of November. It will mean all council workers can be told to work at weekends, anywhere in the city doing any job in their grade.
And any current extra weekend pay will also be slashed.
The workers plan to strike again when the council meets to vote through these attacks and others in October.
“I’m losing nearly £4,000,” said home care assistant Dave. “A lot of us will have to get second jobs. It’s absolutely disgusting.
“That’s why we’re here to have a go at the Liberals.”
Lib Dem deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was a focus for workers’ anger. They chanted, “Nick Clegg, we know you—you’re a lying Tory too” and even “Nick Clegg, on your bike, we’re going to have a general strike.”
Workers chanted and rallied, and later packed into a mass meeting.
They taunted passing Lib Dems by singing, “You’re going to lose your seat!”
Maureen works as a housekeeper for the council. She joined the protest holding a sign saying, “Stick together and we’ll win.”
She told Socialist Worker, “We’re some of the lowest paid, we only get £6.75 an hour—but we’ll be losing hundreds of pounds a month.
“But there’s no point in moaning about it if you don’t come out and do something. That’s why I’m here.”