Homelessness caseworkers in
The Unison union members demand to be regraded and paid the same as other colleagues with the same responsibilities who receive up to £5,000 a year more.
Strikers explained to Socialist Worker that their job is not, as bosses argue, just about sorting accommodation.
It can involve referring people to food banks, addiction services, giving benefits or money advice and a whole lot more. And they hope the strike can defend this service.
Workers had their first meeting with bosses on Friday of last week – some 25 days after they walked out. Chris said, “There was a frank exchange of views. All that was offered was a business review lasting eight weeks and they wouldn’t guarantee anything.”
Jennifer added, “The worry I have is that some get an upgrade and some don’t. That’s not acceptable – we are in this together and we’re all going back together. There’s no middle road.”
The strength of the action and distrust of the bosses has deepened workers’ resolve.
Ellen said, “We’re solid and getting lots of support from social work colleagues and service users. Management have told us in the past to wait and things will change, but the only change we ever see is more managers.”
Chris said the strike is having a big impact on the workers. “There are seventy people rallying round a cause.
“It’s phenomenal. You’re seeing things in people that you never knew were there. In the daily drudge of work sometimes you don’t see the best in people.”
Jennifer said the strike has created a support network and things will never be the same again.
Shirley said, “We didn’t think we could do this. Some in my team were wavering. We had no steward. But everybody voted to come out.
“We have been in meetings where you are told to stop whining and be grateful to have a job. I think some managers thought we’d be out for a day and then we’d be back.”
Solidarity is crucial but other council workers will need to enter the fight to force the bosses’ hands, and soon. Victory to the strikers.