Socialist Worker

South London council walkout has the power to beat outsourcing and cuts

by Mark Dunk
Issue No. 2452

Strikers and supporters rally in Bromley, south London

Strikers and supporters rally in Bromley, south London (Pic: Mark Dunk )


South London council workers have launched a wave of strikes against privatisation.

The Unite union members are striking against a massive programme of cuts and outsourcing being pushed through by Bromley Council.

The council has £130 million in reserves. 

Yet it is privatising the bulk of its services and cutting the number of directly employed staff from 4,000 to 300.

Library staff struck for five days last week. All Unite members at the council, except schools staff, joined their walkout on Friday of last week.

The strike closed the Central Library all week and pickets were held at libraries across the borough each day. 

On Friday workers held a picket and rally at the civic centre before a delegation joined the May Day march in central London.  

Unite branch secretary Kathy Smith said, “This is not about our pay, not about our pensions—this is about our services.”

Solidarity

She said solidarity donations had come in from union branches. But she added, “The donation that meant the most was £15 from an elderly man in Andover who read in a socialist paper that we were on strike.”

Local trades council secretary Arthur Shaw told strikers, “You’ve inspired me so much. A holiday in the Bahamas couldn’t beat the week I’ve had on the picket lines with you.”

Other speakers included a Labour councillor and the branch secretary of Bromley Unison, who announced the branch’s 600 members would be balloted to join the action.

Parks staff walked out for 24 hours on Tuesday of this week and a further council-wide strike was planned for election day. 

Staff in passenger services and care staff are set to strike for seven days from Wednesday of next week, ending with another council-wide strike on 19 May.

The campaign has implications for council workers across Britain.

Send messages of support to kathleen.smith@bromley.gov.uk
Send donations for the strike fund to Kathy Smith, Unite Office, Bromley Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH (cheques payable to Bromley Unite)

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