Socialist Worker

Birmingham: more action needed if they don’t listen

by Salma Iqbal and Pete Jackson
Issue No. 1994

An estimated 100,000 struck across Birmingham. The mood on the picket line outside Greencote House was jubilant as pickets gathered for the strike.

Gulsoom, an admin assistant working for social services, said, “I am a single mother with three children. I work 30 hours a week.

“Now I am being told I have to work an extra five or ten years if I want a decent pension.

“I suffer from arthritis, my condition is only going to get worse. Can you see me working at 70? These politicians do not have a clue.”

Katherine Thomas, a probation officer who has been paying into the pension scheme since she was 18, said, “When I retire I will have nothing to show for my working life. I want to have a good retirement.”

Biju Matthew, a social worker, said “We are doing a very stressful job. We do not want a stressful retirement and old age.”

After about three hours on the picket line these workers joined a thousand-strong rally in the city centre.

Trevor Royer, a T&G union senior steward at Morrison, the privatised housing maintenance service, said, “If the government don’t listen today they should be aware there will be further action.

“Blair must hear. He’s got to stop what he’s doing. In the long run it’s going to hit the Labour government. If they don’t turn the tide they’re in trouble.”

Paul Sayer, a Ucatt steward from the Thimble Mill lane depot, said, “We need to be in the government’s faces. We’re sick of them.”

John Paul, a deputy convenor for the Amicus union, said, “I’ve paid into the scheme for 33 years and expected to get a pension at the end.

“MPs and ministers gave themselves a good increase, what about us?

“Blair has let society down. He should be protecting working people. This is what he thinks of the people who vote for him.”

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