Socialist Worker

Reports round up: Union officials block strike by Kirklees social workers

Issue No. 2556

Social workers in Sandwell fighting privatisation plans by Eleanor Brazil, who is planning similar attacks in Kirklees

Social workers in Sandwell fighting privatisation plans by Eleanor Brazil, who is planning similar attacks in Kirklees (Pic: Sandwell Unison)

Unison union officials have refused to sanction industrial action by social workers at Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire.

A written response from officials last Wednesday shocked the branch, which is in a long-running dispute for higher pay and better terms and conditions.

Officials said they refused action because of an upcoming report by children’s commissioner Eleanor Brazil.

Brazil was brought in to investigate children’s services after a poor Ofsted watchdog report.

Workers fear that Brazil will recommend setting up a private Children’s Trust. But Unison officials claim the report will propose keeping children’s services in house, but with Leeds City Council providing the management.

Officials say that Leeds council have told them they aren’t prepared to take this on while industrial action is ongoing.

This should be used as a negotiating weapon.

Unison Kirklees branch stewards and officers were to discuss their response as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday.

Nick Ruff, Kirklees Unison branch chair (pc)

Guards’ action hits buffers

The RMT union suspended a coordinated rail strike planned for Tuesday of this week on Southern, Northern and Merseyrail.

The union said it had taken the decision “in light of the horrific bombing in Manchester”.

The decision left some workers disgruntled. As one Southern train guard told Socialist Worker, “I’m not sure it was the correct thing to do to suspend the action. I can understand it more in Manchester but not here.”

But no opportunity was lost by Southern bosses to use the tragic events.

A spokesperson said, “This is an appropriate response by the RMT to the tragedy in Manchester.

“The union now needs to use this opportunity to agree to the very good offers we have made.”

Bosses were forced to backtrack after criticism.

Glass workers can shatter pay freeze

Unite union members at two glass firms in Devon have called further strikes in their fight over pay, terms and conditions.

Specialist Building Product Group’s subsidiary companies Sierra Windows and DB Glass both made a miserly pay offer and imposed a 12-hour working day.

The Sierra workers in Paignton have called nine

48-hour strikes in June and July, with the first starting this Wednesday.

The DB Glass workers in Newton Abbot have called six 48-hour strikes, starting on Wednesday of next week.

Strikes could have cemented victory

A threat to strike has won an improved pay deal for drivers at cement firm Cemex. Their Unite union called off planned industrial action after the firm offered concessions, including negotiating with the union in future.

The rapid settlement showed the workers’ strength.

But the deal still centres on a 1.6 percent pay rise from July 2016, just as it did when workers voted for action. Strikes could have won more.

Thousand-strong march for NHS in Bristol 

Up to 1,000 people took to the streets of Bristol in defence of the NHS last Saturday.

The march, organised by Protect Our NHS and Bristol People’s Assembly, was loud and angry and grew in size as it wound its way through the city.

It was another sign of the anger at the Tories’ attacks.

Anti-fascists plan demo in Liverpool

Anti-fascists in Liverpool plan to oppose the English Defence League this Saturday.

Unite Against Fascism has also called a counter-protest against fascists Britain First in Birmingham on 24 June.

The Nazis had planned to march on the same day as the EDL in Liverpool, but were forced to postpone after their leaders were arrested.

UAF will oppose a planned Scottish Defence League demonstration in Edinburgh on 25 June.

Go to and for more details

Housing workers demand equal pay

Housing workers in Manchester protested last Thursday as part of their fight for equal pay.

The Unite union members, who are employed by private contractor Mears, maintain social housing for the council.

They plan to strike every Monday, Thursday and Friday until bosses come to the table. Bosses are also pushing new contracts which will increase hours and introduce “flexible” working hours with no extra pay.

  • Around 30 housing campaigners protested over the housing crisis in central London last Thursday. They marched from Parliament Square to Downing Street chanting, “Axe the Housing Act”.

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