UNISON UNION members in Hackney, east London, have voted against the council leaders' "final" wage cutting, job slashing offer and in favour of a five-day strike.
The decision, by 347 votes to 312, should see action begin on 30 April. Some union reps have argued that the action should be scaled back because the ballot did not give overwhelming backing to the strike. But workers have made their decision despite heavy pressure from the Labour-Tory coalition that runs the council.
Previous strikes have won solid backing and have been very popular with local people, who also face the effects of the council's 50 million cuts programme. Narrow votes for action do not mean a strike will fail. Peugeot car workers in Coventry struck very successfully last year despite an even closer vote than this one.
Once the battle begins, confidence and organisation grow. The union branch committee has backed the five-day strike. A stewards' meeting was due this week.
BIRMINGHAM CITY Council's plans to sell off all its council houses to the private sector are looking increasingly shaky. Only 11 percent of tenants bothered to vote in a recent ballot for shadow boards for the proposed companies. In a number of wards the council was unable to find a single tenant prepared to stand.
Birmingham Defend Council Housing recently held a meeting in Ladywood, one of the poorest wards in the city. There was standing room only as over 100 local residents packed the community centre to hear the debate.
Representatives from the ruling Labour group, in favour of the sell off, refused to attend the meeting (probably due to the roasting they have received elsewhere). However, there was a lively debate involving the leader of the Liberal Democrat group, John Hemming.
He spoke out against transfer but, as it was pointed out, the very same week the Liberal Democrat group in Sheffield voted for transfer. After an hour of debate tenants voted unanimously to oppose the transfer, and names were collected to set up a local group to lead the campaign in the area.