Taken from Birmingham Socialist Party Bin Strike Bulletin No.10
A Tyseley worker summed it up nicely. “We’ve taken the lead, but it’s only half time.”
As Unite won their High Court victory against the illegal redundancy notices, it’s another round to the bin workers. Judge Fraser referring to chaos in the council said “Neither party (councillors or officers) comes out of this sorry saga with any credit at all.” The public can now see even more clearly who caused this mess.
KEEP OUR POWDER DRY—BE PREPARED
The Court ruling may be a window where bosses are sacked and the council come to a just deal—and we hope for the best – or it may be a window for the courts and council to plan to attack us again. So we must be prepared to resume the fight. The tremendous Ballot result gives us the platform to resume the battle if it arises.
In the meantime, we should work to build support across the council workforce that we may need later. Meeting them at workplaces to explain the threat to their jobs and conditions revealed during this dispute.
This has been another setback for the council in what’s been a long attritional war. A war bin workers have proved they have the stomach for. As one lad said, we should ALL be proud of ourselves.
THERE ARE OTHER FRONTS TO FIGHT ON
But the council have not declared an end to their war on jobs and services and will be egged on by the Tory government. Unite and the Trade Union & socialist movement must continue our war against attacks on working people and austerity for workers while the wealthy get £millions.
As well as preparing to fight with industrial action if the council turn on us again, we should fight on other fronts as well. A fight to change the Council. Who are these so-called ‘Labour’ councillors who have been happy to wave a pen to sack workers or take £5,000 a year off them?
Next year every council seat is up for election. Whoever wins a seat then is there for at least 4 years, with no other elections to be able to change them.
Howard Beckett, rightly told the crowd at Sundays rally that things were going to change in this region.
Unite should give no political support to councillors who’ve behaved in this way, and should work to change them all. If they aren’t changed then the Trade Union and Socialist movement needs to consider challenging them in next Mays elections. (The Socialist Party are certainly discussing that option)
Crushing ballot result shows anger of workers and confidence in their ability to fight.An increased turnout to 72.7% delivered a 92.4% vote to extend strike action.
Hundreds attend Support Binworkers Rally
Several hundred supporters, with a large contingent of bin workers, assembled on 17 September outside the very building in Birmingham where the decision to issue 113 redundancy notices and deprive some workers of up to £5,000 a year was made by the Labour council.
The rally was followed by the announcement that the bin workers have voted overwhelmingly to continue the strike with a 92% vote on a 72% turnout.
In addition to local trade unionists there were workers from Gloucestershire, Mansfield, Greenwich Unite and a delegation of Southampton bin workers.
Howard Beckett -Unite assistant general secretary, and responsible for negotiations—warned councillors that things were going to change round here. That they could not carry on acting like Tories. Unite would fight for all its members. Lee Barron, regional TUC secretary, also attacked the Labour council for issuing compulsory redundancy notices by parodying Neil Kinnock’s attack on the socialist-led Liverpool council at the 1985 Labour Party conference.
Rob Williams, National Shop Stewards Network chair, who added that Liverpool council never actually made anyone redundant, went on to explain that this strike is important to council workers across the country and that other councils will take encouragement to attack workers conditions if the bin workers lose.
He also said: “We want Labour councillors to stand up to the Tories, not act like them. If they do act like them, Jeremy Corbyn should immediately withdraw the Labour whip from them.”
This dispute has now assumed national importance as shown by the attendance of Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary. Len gave the support of the whole of Unite and promised that the solidarity of Unite members and others will ensure victory and that they will not stop the action until they have won.
He warned the council that Unite has a strike fund of £36 million, so the bin workers won’t be starved back to work.
Howard Beckett, in a powerful speech stressed the need for Stella Manzie, Birmingham Council’s chief executive and architect of the attack on the bin workers, to be sacked. He lambasted her for the fact that she was cutting workers’ pay by up to £5,000 a year while earning £180,000 a year herself.
Plus, she has previously more than doubled her salary by claiming massive expenses. He said that the attack on the bin workers isn’t where the council will end it’s war, it is the start and threatens all workers and service users across the city.
The rally was a great way of bringing the supporters and bin workers together but wider action involving other council workers allied with solidarity from the whole Birmingham working class may be necessary for a successful conclusion.
OUTSIDE THE HIGH COURT –
Howard Beckett said: “The High Court ruling leaves Birmingham council’s unfair and unjust plans in tatters. The council needs to reflect ….on the misery it has inflicted on the people of Birmingham and its own bin workers.
“At no stage did the council raise in court the issue of equal pay and potential costs. This scaremongering has been outed by the court proceedings as a work of pure fiction.
“Stella Manzie, the chief executive of Birmingham city council, must now step down. She has repeatedly used the threat of equal pay cases to frighten and bully the council into agreeing the downgrade of long serving bin workers when it has no substance whatsoever and was not so much as mentioned by her legal team.
“This ruling underlines that Unite will not shrink away from using all the tools at its disposal to defend its members and the services they deliver.”
It is believed that it emerged in Court that in exchanges during the chaos between Stella Manzies and councillors, Manzies said ‘the council could not look weak’ and “as if it’s being walked over”.
So it’s about their ego’s and never mind the impact on bin workers and the Birmingham community….…..
Reports above from members of Birmingham Socialist Party talking with bin workers. Check out our website for more reports and to find out more about the Socialist Party, join us or come along to one of our weekly meetings
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