THOUSANDS OF council workers marched through central London on Tuesday demanding decent pay. The march was part of a one-day strike by over 50,000 council workers across the capital. Picket lines had been organised in many areas.
Town halls, manual and transport depots, libraries, social services buildings, housing offices, schools and nurseries all saw workers out. The action was by members of the Unison union, but in some areas council workers in the TGWU and GMB unions refused to cross picket lines. Teachers in some schools also took solidarity strike action in defiance of anti-union laws-and of their own union leaders.
Learning support assistants and admin staff were on the picket line outside George Greens Secondary School in east London early on Tuesday. Ten workers had joined the union in the run-up to the action. Caroline summed up the feelings of many of the classroom assistants: 'We are treated like a mum's army, and we get peasant wages.'
Teachers at the school in the NUT union had voted to respect the picket line and were on strike. 'We should all be striking together,' said Monica, a teachers' union rep at the school.
Nearby pickets had shut down a council transport depot. 'The cost of living in London is so high. Property prices are crazy. How can young people on council wages expect to have any kind of start in life?' said John.
The council workers are demanding an increase in the London weighting allowance they get for the extra cost of living and working in the capital. Tuesday's strike comes after a strike over the same issue by London teachers. More united strikes could win decent pay for all.