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Local government workers take on council bosses around Britain

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Issue 2366

Scotland Unison ballot could see 75,000 workers on strike

The result of Unison’s local government pay ballot in Scotland was due to be announced as Socialist Worker went to press.

Some 75,000 workers were voting on a minimum of three days of action that would see regional and Scotland-wide strikes over a seven week period. 

The industrial action could start as early as next month.

Unison members rejected a miserly 1 percent offer from employers earlier this year.

Workers have suffered a two-year pay freeze while the cost of living has sharply increased. Unison argues that pay has lost 13 percent of its value. 

At a time of pay cuts across the public and private sectors workers could win massive support for strikes.

They could also coordinate with other unions as the NUT, FBU and CWU could take national action in the autumn.

Raymie Kiernan

Legal challenge rejected in Barnet

Court of Appeal judges have delivered a blow to campaigners and council workers in Barnet, north London.

They ruled against a judicial review application of the huge One Barnet privatisation programme on the technicality that it was out of time. 

A previous hearing said the Tory-controlled council had acted illegally in failing to properly consult residents.

The Tories signed away 70 percent of services to outsourcing firm Capita in a ten year £1 billion contract.

Campaigners vowed to continue the fight, which has seen strikes and protests. Mass industrial action across the whole council workforce could have stopped the Tories in their tracks.

Hundreds walk out for a pay rise in Liverpool

Some 400 street cleaners, road maintenance and grounds staff struck in Liverpool last Friday. 

Outsourcing firm Amey has refused a 3 percent pay claim. It has refused to give any guarantees about what might happen when up to 60 street cleaning posts are cut.

GMB regional officer George Patterson said, “The lads are upbeat because they’ve had good feedback from residents.”

So far, the strike has not included refuse collectors, who are on a work to rule. But they may join the strike if bosses don’t back down.

The strike is scheduled to be repeated every Friday.

South Gloucester staff fight to save Saturdays

Some 190 South Gloucestershire council workers in the Unison union have voted to strike and work to rule in an indicative ballot.

The council plans to cut wages by an average of 10 percent by removing enhanced Saturday pay.

From October Saturday will be a “normal working day” in terms of pay—even though library staff can only take two Saturdays a year annual leave.

The turnout was 65 percent, the vote to strike 86 percent. Just 2 percent voted to accept.

The vast majority are women, low paid and often part time. More people have joined the union and new stewards have come forward.

The Unison branch has now requested the union sanction a formal industrial ballot. 

Huw Williams, secretary, South Glos Unison (pc)

Labour councils use zero hour contracts

Some 97 percent of councils have care workers on zero hour contracts, according to the Unison union. 

It’s estimated that there are 200,000 workers on zero hours contracts in a variety of jobs across the public sector.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has criticised zero hours contracts. Shadow minister Andy Burnham says he hopes Labour will ban the contracts if it wins the next general election. But many Labour-run councils use zero hours contracts.

Housing and adult social care workers were set to protest over zero hours contracts at Camden council, central London, as Socialist Worker went to press.

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