Socialist Worker

Labour council threatens to use Tory law against strikers

A Labour-led council is threatening to use the Tory anti-union laws against a group of its own workers in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.

Issue No. 2537

The shock news came last week after social workers announced they were set to strike on 27 January and begin a programme of industrial action.

The Unison union members’ long running dispute with council bosses includes workloads, pay and management bullying.

But council chiefs gave the union the ultimatum to call off the strike by 4pm on Monday or they would “take immediate steps to obtain an injunction”.

Kirklees Unison branch secretary Paul Holmes said union members “will be furious” about the threat.

He added, “If they carry on with their threat of legal action we would look at balloting the whole membership of 6,000 members.”

glasgow strike rally sept 2016

Strikers at a rally in Glasgow September 2016 (Pic: Duncan Brown)

The council’s actions come in the aftermath of an Ofsted report that found Kirklees children’s services to be inadequate.

The report said the council was failing in all the areas that Unison has campaigned on for five years.

Failing

“Unison members have clearly understood that the best way to fight privatisation would be to fight now to win their basic demands,” Kirklees Unison chair Nick Ruff (pc) told Socialist Worker. He said the injunction threat from the Labour council was “unprecedented in that it will be the first Labour administration to use the courts to stop democratically supported strikes.

“The consequences for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn could be disastrous,” he said.

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell promised in 2015 to lead a national fight against council cuts. Instead Labour councils are managing Tory austerity.

There were angry denunciations of Labour councillors at a protest outside Tower Hamlets town hall in east London on Tuesday of last week. Tower Hamlets is one of Britain’s poorest borough council areas.

Ram

Yet Labour is looking to ram through £58 million cuts that would include slashing youth services and privatising nurseries.

Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees has announced cuts of £102 million while trying to raise council tax by 5 percent.

Rees added that the council should “do fewer things ourselves, with partners, volunteers or community groups taking on other services.” In Glasgow Labour has been at war with several groups of workers providing council services for one of Labour’s many council-owned firms.

Outsourced workers have fought to demand better

conditions and council employees are opposing more privatisation.

In Derby and Durham, Labour councils are facing resistance from thousands of teaching assistants over pay cuts of a quarter.

It’s time McDonnell and Corbyn launched a real fight against council cuts.

 


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