TORY-CONTROLLED Westminster council has thrown down a major challenge to the Unison public sector workers' union. It was trying to use anti-union laws, introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Tory governments but kept by New Labour, to stop our strike action against privatisation.
Over 100 workers in the London council were out on strike at the start of this week, with 50 workers in building control the latest to join the action. Each day since the strike began several weeks ago there have been workers on strike, with different groups taking action. The council was trying to get an injunction ruling that this form of action is illegal under the anti-union laws.
Any such move would have serious implications for anyone taking strike action. A court hearing was due to take place on Wednesday of this week. It is vital that national Unison leaders respond forcefully, and with action, to any legal attacks on our right to strike. Westminster workers are ready and willing to fight the council's plan to privatise up to 80 percent of services.
To win they need the full backing of their Unison union leaders. That means putting the weight of the union behind the Westminster workers, with financial backing and making the case for solidarity across Unison.
And it means union leaders looking to build on the spirit shown by the strikers to escalate the action to beat this Tory council.
RAHUL PATEL, assistant branch secretary Westminster Unison (personal capacity)
LIBRARY WORKERS in the Unison union in Hackney in east London have struck solidly every Saturday for the last nine months. They are protesting against Hackney council's decision to stop extra payments for working on Saturdays.
The council is attempting to break the strike by opening three out of seven libraries with casual staff. An industrial tribunal is set for November. Events planned to raise solidarity with the strike include:
- A public meeting on Wednesday 18 September, 7pm, Hackney Cypriot Association, 5 Balls Pond Road, London.
- A lobby of the council meeting on 25 September.
- A national rally on Saturday 5 October to mark a year since the removal of Saturday pay.
IN AN unprecedented attack on the Unison union Liverpool city council suspended a union convenor last week. It has also initiated proceedings against a senior shop steward, even though he was carrying out legitimate trade union activities. The steward is being charged with leading a sit-in.
A stewards meeting was set for Tuesday of this week. If the second suspension goes ahead, social services workers are planning to walk out to join a mass union meeting. National Unison leaders should give their full support.
Send messages of support to Unison, City of Liverpool Branch, 4th Floor, Produce Exchange, 8 Victoria Street, Liverpool L2 6QJ. Phone 0151 236 1944.