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United strike sees big pickets shut down council services

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Striking workers in the Unison, Unite and GMB unions made sure council services from refuse depots to libraries were shut for the day.
Issue 2281
Picket line in Lambeth
Picket line in Lambeth

Striking workers in the Unison, Unite and GMB unions made sure council services from refuse depots to libraries were shut for the day.

A joint Unite and Unison picket line in Wigan meant not one lorry left the Hindley bins cleansing depot. Passers-by brought food and drink to strikers.

Unison steward Dave Lowe told Socialist Worker, “This was a magnificent and historic day. Never have I seen such united action by the trade unions in this town.”

In Sandwell, West Midlands, some 300 pickets gathered outside the council offices.

Speakers were applauded for calling on union leaders to name the next strike dates. There were cries of “All out!” and “Victory to the 99 percent!”

In Hackney, east London, Unison member and park ranger Andy was on the picket lines. “I’m really angry that the lump sum of my pension is being stolen to pay for the bankers’ deficit,” he said. “The next step should be further, longer strike action next year.”

Rekha Khurana is a housing worker and Unison rep in Lambeth, south London. She said, “A lot of people are very angry. But generally people are more upbeat than they’ve been in the past.

“People realise that this has to be done to save our pensions.”

Ann McMillan Wood, a Unison steward at Derbyshire County Council Area Office, agrees. She said, “We are on strike today to avoid poverty in old age. We are fighting for the young today who will suffer more than us.”

Determined picket lines did battle with bosses’ attempts at strike-breaking.

Coventry saw a picket of around 50 at City Services, where an attempted scab operation by management failed.

And some 40 people at the social workers’ picket in Gorton, east Manchester, sent away strike-breakers.


Birmingham pickets at Lifford House sang, “I’d rather be a picket than a scab”—and when scabs complained of “intimidation”, they just continued to sing.

Lydia Dalton, a Unison convenor at Ealing council in west London, was leafleting the public enthusiastically. “This strike is what we’ve been calling for—a general strike across the public sector,” she said.

“Next I’d like to see them call a general strike across the public and private sectors together. We need to be united when they’re trying to divide us.”

Vera Clarke, a home support worker in Oxford, put it simply. She said, “We need to up our game, because the only power we have is to strike.”

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