MORE WORKERS are joining the ongoing strike against privatisation at Westminster council in central London. Around 250 workers are now striking against the council's privatisation plans. The Tory-run council plans to privatise up to 80 percent of services. But the workforce is making a stand.
Their strike began with 77 Unison members in parking and highways licensing taking action. This was the start of an escalating plan of rolling action. Workers in the environmental health department were among those who voted to join the strike. From their first day out, Monday 5 August, they organised big, lively pickets. On the Friday of last week one striker, Barry Davies, told Socialist Worker, 'My job is not immediately affected, but people are worried about what will happen in the future.
'They are worried about things like their pensions being dependent on the stockmarket.' The outfit set to take over services is a consortium of multinational corporations called SW1. 'We just don't want to work for a private company,' said Barry. 'Someone got a copy of their glossy brochure. It advertises that they are moving call centres to India, calling it the 'Great Indian Take Away'. We are worried about working for people like that. They are about running things for profit.'
The picket line got a lot of support from drivers going past who hooted their support, and from some arriving to get married in the council chambers. Barry explained why the workers deserved support: 'Look at the Legionnaire's disease in Barrow and the bug in the water in Glasgow. It is our job to stop that sort of thing happening. If you work for a private company they are going to try and cut corners somehow, aren't they?' The workers have set up a strike committee and have set out to win solidarity from others.
Last Tuesday a delegation of strikers had a brilliant response from workplaces around Bristol. They received £500 from Gloucester City Unison, £100 from Gloucester County Unison, £150 from Tewkesbury Unison, £100 from Rolls-Royce workers and £200 from Bristol Unison. Every trade unionist who opposes privatisation should get behind this strike.
To organise delegations or send donations write to Westminster Unison, First Floor South, Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria House, London SW1E 6QP. Phone 020 7641 2389 or 07956 579 466. E-mail [email protected]