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Local government round up: Birmingham care workers fight on, bins strike paused

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Issue 2645
Birmingham care workers have targeted councillors wards
Birmingham care workers have targeted councillors’ wards (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Care workers in Birmingham are keeping up the fight for their jobs and the service with strikes set for this week.

The 280 Unison union members are fighting against council plans to put them on part-time hours.

Drastic cuts could see an end to the free, council-run home enablement service that allows people to stay in their own homes following discharge from hospital.

Workers struck on Tuesday and plan to walk out again on Sunday this week and Saturday next week.

They leafletted the Longbridge and West Heath ward of cabinet member Brett O’Reilly on Tuesday of this week.

Strikers plan to leaflet Waseem Zaffar’s Lozzells ward on Sunday.

Workers have been fighting for two years against attacks from their Labour council on their shift patterns, pay and jobs.

Meanwhile, a planned strike for Birmingham bin workers was suspended after the council offered a deal that the Unite union called a “real breakthrough”.

Unite members had struck alongside Unison union members against “secret payments” given to workers who didn’t take part in strikes in 2017.

Workers were due to walk out on Friday of last week, and for a further four days. They are still operating an overtime ban.

Labour-run Birmingham City Council says it is offering £3,500 to workers.

The cabinet recommended the deal for approval last Friday and a final decision was expected on Friday of this week.

Strikes force NSL to make new offer to traffic wardens 

The GMB union suspended a 48-hour strike by traffic wardens in Westminster and Wandsworth last week.

Traffic wardens in the Tory-run London boroughs planned to walk out last week as part of their fight for sick pay and the living wage.

The result of talks at conciliation service Acas had not been released as Socialist Worker went to press.

Johnathon, a GMB member in Wandsworth in south London, said strikes forced bosses at outsourcing giant NSL to make a new offer.

“Our strikes have definitely had an impact—especially the last one when we struck together with Westminster,” he told Socialist Worker.

Wandsworth traffic wardens struck for six days in February. Westminster workers joined them for two of these.


NSL bosses previously offered workers in Wandsworth five days sick pay—which the GMB didn’t put to its members. Johnathon said, “I’d want them to offer at least a month’s sick pay, which would be a decent offer that could be put to the members.”

Workers have already shown their determination to fight and not settle for a rubbish offer from bosses.

Johnathon said, “If the talks turn out to be a waste of time people are definitely prepared to strike again.

“And other boroughs are waiting in the wings.”

Traffic wardens in the Unison union in Camden, north London, returned an overwhelming vote to strike in a ballot last week. A coordinated strike by workers in all three boroughs would step up pressure on NSL.

Johnathon is a pseudonym

A battle to save nurseries

Around 300 nursery school head teachers protested in central London on Monday over cuts to nursery funding.

Hundreds of protesters held a lobby in Parliament and then marched to Downing Street to deliver a letter to the chancellor Philip Hammond.

The action was backed by the NAHT head teachers’ union.

It said most maintained nursery schools have had to make “large cuts” due to “reduced budgets”.

“Exceptional, highly trained early years staff have been lost through restructures or because of the constant worry of an uncertain future,” it said.

“Many of us are trying to plan for a future that, without the sustainable funding, will probably mean the closure of our schools.”


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