Some 1,250 Derby teaching assistants (TAs) escalated their dispute with their Labour-run city council this week.
The Unison union members staged three full-day strikes against a 25 percent pay cut from Monday.
The TAs were out for two days last week—and Derby branch secretary Nicole Berrisford told Socialist Worker they could “go all-out” after half term.
This threat to Labour council leader Ranjit Banwait, who describes himself as “on the left of the party”, comes after Jeremy Corbyn backed the TAs.
The local branch of Labour left group Momentum also came out on their side.
TA Joanne works at Ivy House special needs school. A £350 a month pay cut has added ten years onto her mortgage—she says she will now be at least 60 before it is paid off.
Joanne told Socialist Worker, “I’ve voted Labour all my life but I never will again. This is not about fairness or equality—it’s about cost-cutting.”
Derby Labour’s cut has left workers in a terrible financial position.
Some TAs have had to sell their homes, while others have cancelled their pension as they can no longer afford to pay into it.
“I do 37 hours a week but I am still considered part time,” explained Joanne. “The £6,000 a year I’m losing works out at £162,000 over the next 27 years I’ve got left.
“I can’t retire until I am 67 and I’m going to have a part time pension.”
The dispute is almost a carbon copy of the struggle of Durham TAs. Those workers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of talks with their Labour council.
They have organised a week of protests during half term and called a national solidarity protest for Saturday 25 March.
Protest at libraries into gyms plan
Library campaigners in Lambeth were set to protest ahead of a council planning application meeting this Tuesday.
They are fighting to save the Carnegie Library in the south London borough.
Their Labour-run council plans to spend £4 million on turning two libraries, which it closed last April, into gyms.
It has recommended that planning permission for Carnegie Library is granted.
Local campaigners are calling on Labour “to refuse planning permission to GLL, the council’s leisure centre provider, to transform our once thriving and much-loved library into a pay-to-use gym”.
More than 300 objections have been submitted against the plans.