Escalating selective action by workers at Sefton council on Merseyside is set to ratchet up another notch this week. Some 18 workers in the education personnel department are to join 17 in the creditors department already on strike against the victimisation of union activists.
Members of Sefton’s Unison union branch are protesting against attempts by the council to sack their branch convenor Nigel Flanagan and branch organiser Paul Summers.
Disciplinary hearings against the two full-timers, and against four shop stewards, will start on Monday of next week.
Sefton Unison is asking supporters to bombard the council with protests by fax, phone and e-mail that day.
The council is falsely accusing the activists of “intimidation” for attending a Defend Council Housing protest in May against plans to sell off housing stock.
These plans were rejected by tenants in a ballot in August. The council is now threatening to scrap repairs to council houses and sack 50 workers in the housing department to save £1.2 million.
It spent £5.2 million on promoting the rejected stock transfer scheme.
Some 2,000 council workers struck for a total of 72 hours earlier this year in protest at the council’s victimisation of the six trade unionists.
Since then the union has switched to a strategy of cumulative selective action.
“The strike action by creditors that started on Tuesday of last week has been 100 percent solid,” Nigel told Socialist Worker. “The education personnel department is coming out on Tuesday, and we’ve given notice to the council for two more education departments to join them next week.”
All strikers are receiving the equivalent of full wages, paid for through solidarity donations and a £10 a week levy from other Sefton Unison members.
Some Sefton Unison members have questioned whether this strategy is hard-hitting enough. “It’s good that the action is going ahead, but it has been fairly low key,” one Unison member told Socialist Worker.
“There’s a lot of support for the strikers, but it’s passive support — people paying their levy by standing order rather than workplace collections. I feel people would have supported more wide scale strike action.”
Send messages of support and financial contributions to Sefton Unison, Mersey Seaman’s Mission, Colonsay House, 20 Crosby Road South, Liverpool L22 1RQ or phone 0151 928 9911