Brum Bin workers defeat City Council

Text from Socialist Party strike Bulletin no.19

Unite and Unison bin workers will receive the £3,500 demanded by members at the start of this dispute in line with the secret payments made to non striking GMB members in 2017.  Also agency staff will have an opportunity to apply for permanent positions.

After numerous days of strike action and an embarrassing failed attempt at a court injunction using Tory anti trade union laws the council has been defeated and humiliated.

Birmingham bin workers have therefore dealt another blow to the Blairite led Birmingham city council, forcing it to completely back down over the ‘bribe’ money paid to GMB members who didn’t take strike action last year.

The secret ‘sweetheart’ deal was made between GMB leadership and the Labour council which saw GMB members receive a cash lump sum directly into their payslip – essentially blacklisting Unite and Unison members.

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THE FUTURE?

From their actions during the strike breaking and use of the Tory anti-union laws and courts to attack its own workforce, the council have shown it doesn’t and never did respect the deal to keep grade 3’s back in 2017. More than ever workers across the council know that the council can’t be trusted!

Their attacks on both council workers and council services stem from their refusal to resist Tory demands for more austerity cuts. So they’re carrying on with them. Despite 8,500 jobs already gone since 2010 – they voted last month for another 1000+ job losses and more cuts to services. It’s clear that we need to be prepared for more attacks on the bin service.

STRENGTHEN THE UNION

The huge, lively picket lines and mass meetings have shown the strength and willingness of members to fight. This can be built upon and made even stronger with a drive for more shop stewards across the depos.

An even stronger and well organised network of stewards across the workforce would make it harder for the city council to attack next time and strengthen any future disputes with an even more powerful rank and file organisation, able to effectively communicate and control action against any future council attacks.

Tory Austerity & the Blairite Labour council’s refusal to resist it – is behind these attacks & it needs to be defeated!

SUPPORT HOMECARE WORKERS    

We should remember the fantastic joint strike day with the homecare workers on the 22nd February that shook the council to its bones. They have been in dispute for over 18 months now to defend their jobs and conditions against the brutal Labour Council that –we believe- wants to get rid of the homecare service and dump it on the profit grabbing private sector.

We urge bin workers to do whatever possible to continue to support & assist the homecare workers!

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 CITY WIDE THREAT—The latest job cuts, attacks and moves towards wholescale privatisation of services is a glimpse of more to come from this Labour council. Instead of letting the council attack one section of workers at a time, Council unions and stewards should prepare for city wide action.

The victory of the bin workers has shown yet again that trade union militancy works! And should be used as an example and inspiration for workers under attack across Birmingham and across the country, that with struggle they can win as well.

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Cuts Cllrs get pay rise!!

In a time where poverty is skyrocketing in our city, the homelessness crisis getting worse everyday on the streets and over a 1000 more council job losses being agreed by ‘Labour’ councillors the council’s independent remuneration panel is proposing these same councillors are awarded a 4% pay rise! 

This would see all 101 Birmingham city councillors receiving a 4% pay boost due to ‘increased workloads and impact of social media’. What about the increased workloads of council employees who keep the streets clean or who look after our kids and elderly relatives. The pay bonanza goes even further for the top leadership of the council with cabinet members seeing big rises to their ‘extra payments’ putting top earner council leader Ian Ward on £69,000 a year! This man saw nothing wrong with viciously attacking bin workers’ terms and conditions or driving the dedicated and inspirational Homecare workers living standards into the dirt.

These proposals have been made on the backdrop of this Blairite ‘Labour’ council voting through an additional £46million of cuts resulting in more attacks on its workforce. The council has just been defeated after its most recent battle against bin workers, which cost citizens an additional £3millon in the use of scab workers! This is on top of the ongoing attacks on the Homecare workers whilst council bosses splash out £12million bringing in consultants to privatise this vital public service.  

The Socialist Party demands that all workers representatives such as councillors and MPs should be on a worker’s wage not a grossly disproportionate salary divorcing them from the day to day struggles of the working class. This was the policy of Militant Labour MP’s Dave Nellist, Pat Wall and Terry Fields. This should go hand in hand with the Unite Union policy of no-cuts budgets and using council reserves and borrowing powers as a short term measure to stop all austerity cuts to council services and to begin a national campaign to defeat this weak Tory government!  

 

No perks, no privileges – we need socialists not sell outs!


 

Militant National Shop Steward Network rally in support of Brum workers under attack

See the video of the event filmed by UNITE West Midlands

Birmingham Bin and Home Care strikers were both in attendance at the Birmingham National Shop Steward’s Network rally – ‘to defend workers from Council attacks!’.

100 Trade unionists and activists met to listen about/discuss current local disputes as well as put forward demands, tactics and ideas on how to build a trade union movement against council cuts to jobs, terms and conditions as well as saving public services. The floor heard inspirational fighting speeches from: Unite convenor and bin striker Dean Smith (picture below), UNISON senior shop steward and home care striker Mandy Buckley, Unite Assistant General Secretary Howard Beckett and NSSN Chair Rob Williams, to name a few.

nssn bins dean

Suggestions were made during the rally that in order to ensure services and jobs are saved from current or future attacks, UNISON and Unite need to lead an all-out Council strike against the deplorable Labour Council. Current disputes need to link their struggle to the wider issue of fighting back against council austerity policies – this will give all workers a much better chance at saving their jobs completely without any compromises with the bosses. Additionally, putting forward demands on the Cllrs to set no-cuts budgets and to only stand on a worker’s wage will be steps forward to a genuine Council fight back against the Tory austerity agenda.

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Furthermore, Birmingham Labour Council has voted to cut another 1000+ jobs! Cuts which could potentially be made to the bin and home care services and who else knows where. What was agreed by the floor is that while the bins have won their battle, and the home carers are still in theirs – Birmingham Labour Council is set on waging a war on its workers and citizens making them face the brutal reality of the effects of these cuts.

With people literally dying on Birmingham’s streets the unions and Council workers need to go on the offensive more so now than ever – Bin and Home Care workers could be leading the way forward with this fight and inspire their co-workers within the council to join them on the picket line!

Come along to the NSSN National Conference on Saturday 6th July in London!

Hear from fighting trade unionists from around the county and let’s begin the end to these attacks on ordinary people!

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International Womens Day Public Meeting

Join Birmingham Socialist Students, Young Socialists and Birmingham Socialist Party as we commemorate the history of International Women’s Day and its link to Socialist Feminism.

Venue: Top floor at The Victoria Pub, John Bright Street, Birmingham City Centre
Date: Wednesday 6th March
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Guest speakers include:

Birmingham Home Care Striker
Birmingham Bin Striker

 

IWD

How did International Women’s Day come about? What is Socialist Feminism? And how are they both linked?

International Women’s Day (IWD) has a rich history of worker’s struggles and has been been used as a tool by working class women to fight for a new society.

So how did such an important day become sidelined towards the end of the 20th century and why is it now coming back on the agenda? How can women and worker’s utilise this day to fight against rising global inequality, exploitation and a capitalist system which is failing the world’s 99%?

This will be a worthwhile discussion for anyone wanting to learn more about IWD, the history of working class women and current battles women and the working class are taking on.

The meeting will also be joined by speakers from the Birmingham Home Care and Bin strike – two current disputes happening side by side against their employer Birmingham Labour Council. The strikers will demonstrate how even though one workforce is predominantly women and the other men, that both their struggles are linked by attacks on their terms, conditions and pay.

Be part of the discussion to see how we can move forward to make sure women and worker’s can win liberation and how socialism plays a key role in this.

So come along to the meeting to discuss, and to see how you can get involved in continuing the struggle to end women’s oppression!

For information on Socialist Feminism read the recent article from Socialism Today!

Bin And Homecare Workers Can Bring Down The Council!

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Out early at Redfern Road

Hundreds of bin workers piled onto Tuesday’s picket lines. Pictures & videos from the day look more like something from the 1970s rather than 2019!

A wall of orange was built around each depot – in France they had the ‘Gilet Jaunes’ in Birmingham we have the ‘Gilet Orange! Even before the first day of action, one councillor – Majid Mahmood – had resigned from the cabinet. Since Tuesday…

  • The Labour chief whip – Kerry Jenkins, has resigned
  • 23 labour councillors have sent a letter protesting against the court injunction the local labour leadership is trying to impose to stop the strike.
  • West Midlands Labour board voted overwhelmingly to call on the national
    Labour Party executive to investigate council leader Ian Ward and his deputy Brigid Jones

 

The Labour council is crumbling! Friday’s joint strike by the bin workers and homecare
workers will be another huge blow to this weak and spineless labour council group. The joint action is also a demonstration that the workforce will not be divided against each other!

 

Some labour councillors have recently come out in support of the homecare workers, while continuing to support the savage attacks on the bin workers. Homecare and bin workers together on the picket lines is a message to those councillors, that picking and choosing who to support and who to attack is just as bad as their rotten labour council leaders!

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A wall of orange at Perry Barr

Further joint rallies, strikes and pickets will strengthen the disputes but also the wider struggle against austerity in Birmingham and across the UK. Since 2010 8700 council jobs have been lost in Birmingham that’s thousands of workers and the services they provided thrown on to the scrap heap! And thousands of jobs for young people in future lost. The Bin and Homecare workers are striking for ordinary working class people Birmingham and inspiring millions of people across the country.

The splits and divisions that exist in the labour party nationally that has seen 8 Labour MPs resign from the Labour Party, are even more wider here in Birmingham. Thousands of people across Birmingham would welcome the council leadership joining their pro austerity, anti union mates in their new ‘Gang’!

This Council is weak, divided and unstable. It would not take much for Trades unions to organise action to defeat its Red Tory agenda and policies.

If Labour councillors are not prepared to stand up for the working class then they should stand down. If they won’t go willingly, they should face deselection as Labour candidates. They should be replaced with real working-class fighters, drawn from across the trade union and socialist movement – fighters prepared to take a stand and support a no-cuts budget, ending all attacks on workers’ rights.

  • Unite and Unison should build a mass campaign towards further coordinated action across the council workforce in support of the home care and bin workers and against the attacks taking place across every inch of the council.
  • Continue the joint strikes and pickets by bin and homecare workers
  • Mass meetings should be called in every department to discuss and build support.
  • Unions should call for protest lobbies of Council meetings and Councillors’ surgeries
  • Unite & Unison should call a joint national demo & rally in defence of the action taken by council workers.
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Discussing with workers at Perry Barr

It is more clear than ever that Brum City Council’s main interest is lining the pockets of big business rather than the interests of ordinary people in Birmingham. Rather than oppose Tory austerity and anti union laws the council has enthusiastically adopted them themselves!

If the highly paid council officers, Councillors and their mates in big business in the city didn’t turn up to work tomorrow – no one would notice! If the thousands of ordinary Council Workers don’t turn up to work (or go on strike!) everyone notices!

It’s the millions not the millionaires that keeps society running and creates the wealth! Socialist ideas and polices are growing in popularity because they seek to change how society works, so it’s run in the interests of the millions not the millionaires!

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Birmingham Young Socialists lend their support to the strike

 

Reports from around the pickets

 

Montague Street
Over 30 were on the picket at Montague Street, including some agency workers and Unison members. No-one was surprised to see the council undermining the 2017 deal, with management cobbling together crews that went out that morning without a Grade 3. All the same, the mood was one of determination to do whatever’s needed to push back against attempts to break Unite on the bins.

 

Perry Barr

“I’ve only been working here for 4 months and this is my first strike or union action but despite being nervous I knew it was the right thing to do by joining, we’re stronger together.”
A wall of orange covered the gates of Perry Barr depo with flags and placards covering the fences in a highly organised picket. Rob Williams from the Socialist Party and National Shop Stewards Network spoke to the picket line giving the strike complete support from the Socialist Party and NSSN.

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Rob Williams giving support from the NSSN

Redfern Road

Huge numbers of strikers took to the gates at Redfern depot, and was covered by TV and radio all day. Majid Mahmood who resigned from the council cabinet in protest at the council’s attacks on the unions came down to support the picket. Howard Beckett and Majid addressed the strikers alongside Rob Williams.

 

One striker said: ”I’m happy that Majid Mahmood is exposing what dirty deals the cabinet is doing but we need other councillors to back us, he needs to reach out to others and bring them down here on the picket lines as well”

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Lifford Lane

”We went on strike last year to fight for people’s safety by keeping the grade 3’s, so because we care about our communities safety we’re being blacklisted?”
The picket line at Lifford looked more like a brick wall such was the size and the strength and determination of the striker to defeat the council.

 

“This council can find the money for anything it likes, like that stupid vanity project of the commonwealth games, but not for the basics of upgrading ours public services”

 

Agree with what we say? Come along to one of our upcoming branch meetings to discuss how we can build support for the strike and beat the bosses – details here

Victory To Birmingham Bin Workers!

Birmingham City Council, also known as the ‘Blairite City Council’ by many local trade union activists, has been caught red-handed using blacklisting.

The council has targeted refuse and collection workers from Unite the Union who took industrial action last year to save safety-critical ‘grade three’ roles from being cut.

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Bin Workers on strike during 2017

Unite has discovered that the council made secret ‘sweetheart payments’ – as described by Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett – as a ‘reward’ to refuse workers who did not participate in last year’s strike. The recipients were a minority section of staff, who received payments of £4,000 plus each!

This is a clear act of discrimination, sanctioning and, most disgustingly, a tactic of divide and rule.

It is an action clearly designed to weaken the collective force of the union taken by – let’s not forget – a Labour council.

This is a Labour council that attempted to obtain a court injunction using Tory anti-union legislation. A Labour council which attempted to use a strikebreaking ‘alternative workforce’ against union members!

Despite all this, Unite members still offered an olive branch to this anti-worker council. The union stated that, if the council simply made payments of parity so that all bin workers were paid equally, all parties involved could move on and attempt to rebuild the decimated trust between this Labour council and the labour movement.

But Birmingham council was not in any mood to admit to its wrongdoings and make amends. Instead, it tried to shift the blame onto the bin workers, punishing staff by refusing holiday leave.

The council also tried to poison public opinion – attempting to turn the bin workers’ own communities against them by utilising contacts in the local media to run hostile, anti-union headlines.

With the council refusing to cooperate with Unite’s final peace deal of parity payments, bin workers have been forced to escalate their ‘work to rule’ action to a full-blown strike starting on 19 February.

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Bin workers vote to continue action at a mass meeting last Friday

Wider struggle

The ordinary working-class and young people of Birmingham are behind the bin workers. We understand this is part of a wider fight to save our public services, as the already striking Birmingham home care workers know all too well.

This is a fight not just for workplace justice but against Tory austerity. It is a fight against all those councillors that do the Tories’ dirty work – implementing cuts at local level – no matter the colour of their rosettes.

If these Labour councillors are not prepared to stand up for the working class then they should stand down.

If they won’t go willingly, they should face deselection as Labour candidates. They should be replaced with real working-class fighters, drawn from across the trade union and socialist movement – fighters prepared to take a stand and support a no-cuts budget, ending all attacks on workers’ rights.

Ultimately, if the same pro-cuts councillors are not removed and instead seek re-election, they should face an anti-cuts challenge at the ballot box.

Workers across Birmingham need councillors who are working-class fighters, prepared to take the battle to one of the weakest Tory governments of all time.

Labour Council Sues Striking Workers – Councillor Resigns From Cabinet

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Birmingham Home Care Workers and Bin Workers together outside Perry Barr bin depot.

Labour Councillor Majid Mahmood announced yesterday that he will be stepping down from his cabinet role for Clean Streets, Waste and Recycling. He credits this decision to his frustration over the Labour Council’s hostile approach to both the Bin Workers and Home Care Workers.

Yesterday, the Council made public their plans to pursue legal action against Unite and Unison for the recent industrial action taken by its council members – another example in a long list showing how far the council will go to attack its own employees as well as find new ways to waste public money. Just like how they spent over £6 million on agency staff to break the bin strike last year and £12 million on consultants to ‘streamline’ – a.k.a cut – adult and social care which the home care service is part of. Reports from Bin worker reps from the different depots of the council have expressed their anger and frustration, not at just these right-wing Labour councillors carrying out the Tory’s dirty work, but also the unelected financial officers of the council who appear to be pulling the real strings behind the scenes of who has power here in Birmingham.

Birmingham Home Care workers have been taking strike action against the Labour Council for over 12 months and have taken 50+ days’ full strike action. In December, UNISON leadership (the union leading the strike) finally gave into the rank and file membership and started building political pressure on the Labour Council Cabinet members. It was these Councillors  who agreed to the drastic cutting of the jobs in this service, reducing them to just part time positions and resulting in poverty pay for the staff.

The Home Carers have been leafleting the individual wards of the Cabinet members, including Majid Mahmood, questioning their ‘Labour values’ while they attack their own workers.

At the same time in December Unite Bin Workers overwhelmingly voted in favour of strike action against the Council after only just concluding their last dispute a year ago. Additionally, last week Unison Bin  members voted to for joint industrial action. The workers across both unions are currently following ‘work to rule’ which has already had an impact with missed bin collections.

This new dispute is over ‘bribe’ money which was paid to GMB  union members who did not take strike action last year. An alleged secret ‘sweetheart’ deal was made between GMB leadership and the Labour Council which saw GMB members receive a lump sum of money directly into their payslip – essentially blacklisting Unite and Unison members. The details on this deal have still not been made transparent to the public.

It is good to see a Birmingham Labour Cllr finally break away from these attacks and stand on the side of the workers, but it shouldn’t just stop there. The two issues which arise here are, one of Cllr Mahmood throwing in the towel so early just as both disputes were escalating. Many can support the reasons he gave for quitting his cabinet position in protest due to, as he stated, ‘his hands being tied’. However, the labour movement needs genuine fighting councillors in these positions of decision making – with their fists clenched fighting back against Tory austerity and the Blairites who carry out their deeds.

It’s worth noting the opportunists on the other end of the spectrum like Labour Councillor Lisa Trickett, the former cabinet member in charge of the bin service, who yesterday came outside the council house supposedly offering support and solidarity to the striking home care workers despite last year being the person in charge of attacking the bin workers. Trickett and other opportunist labour councillors can’t pick and choose when and which workers and communities they want to support when convenient for them and their publicity!

The unions should continue to put the political pressure on Labour, not just in Birmingham, but also nationally. Any Labour Cllrs who support the strikers need to also stand on the side of all Council workers and oppose all cuts to public services. Cllrs who truly want to stand up to Tory austerity should work with the unions to demand councils set ‘need’s budgets’ while using reserves to ensure not a single cut is made. During this time all Labour councils and trade unions can co-ordinate to mobilise workers and the public to stand up against the incredibly weak and fractured government. This would be the most effective way of bringing down ‘wobbly’ Teresa May and triggering a general election.

Labour Cllrs here in Birmingham and across the country should have their support both financially and politically withdrawn by unions, such as Unite and Unison, if they continue to carry out the Tories dirty work. These cuts not only damage the lives of ordinary people but they also undermine the anti-austerity platform Corbyn stands on and which has received overwhelming support.

 

  • Those labour councillors who have spoken out against the actions of the Council should be applauded but they need to put those words into action!

 

  • Trade Unionist and those Labour members opposed to the council’s attacks need to ramp up the pressure on the labour Council and their support for the bin and care workers.

 

  • UNITE and UNISON should build a mass campaign towards further co-ordinated action across the council workforce in support of the home care and bin workers and against the attacks taking place across every inch of the council.

 

  • Mass meetings should be called in every department to discuss and build support.

 

  • If the Council’s legal challenge is successful, UNITE and UNISON should call a joint national demonstration and rally in defence of the action taken by council workers.

 

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Birmingham Socialist Party members outside Perry Barr bin depot on Wednesday 16th January 2019 in solidarity with the Bin Workers.

Home Care and Bin Workers: Unite To Defend Jobs And Services!

On 28th December, Birmingham City Council’s bin workers will begin action short of a strike after it emerged that those who took part in 2017’s strike were discriminated against in not receiving payments made to members of other trade unions. Meanwhile the dispute between the council and local home care workers enters its 18th month. Here we reproduce the text of a bulletin distributed at council workplaces:

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Bin Workers Vote To Work To Rule

Bin workers struck to save jobs and beat the Blairite council last year, after three months of action led by general union Unite. But new information suggests the council paid £4,000 directly to workers who did not strike – in effect, blacklisting striking Unite members.
Birmingham’s Labour council disgusted many by spending £6 million on a strike-breaking workforce during the dispute. It is sinking still further with these payments. At a Unite meeting, furious bin workers called for fresh strikes in response with the ballot result of 94 per cent in favour of strike action.
The workers who received the council’s extra payment are represented by general union GMB. We need action to unite bin workers in struggle, not divide them so the employer can pick them off. The GMB leadership has not endeared itself to Birmingham nursery workers and users either. It has agreed the Blairites’ plan to privatise or close the 14-remaining council-owned nurseries.

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Home Carers Enter 18th Month Of Dispute

Their dispute over cuts to hours and pay, up to £11,000 a year for some, has reached over 50 days of strike action. Rank-and-file members have pushed for more political pressure on the Labour council as they continuously fail the workers.
Frustrated that councillors have tried to ignore their action – less visible than the piles of refuse during the bin strike – home carers leafleted key cutters’ wards. Council leader Ian Ward’s area was fully leafleted in just 90 minutes! The leaflet asks residents if their councillors, by attacking low-paid women and their service users, represent “Labour values.” Councillors promised a meeting with the unions so long as home carers ceased leafleting immediately!
But the council has gone back on its word before. Ahead of May’s council elections it promised home carers could trial their own self-rostering system if they called off strikes. As soon as the elections were over, so was the self-roster trial.
Furthermore, addressing a public meeting organised by the council to ‘consult’ on budget cuts for 2019 onwards, Cllr Paulette Hamilton said she had “no regrets” about the way she’d handled the home care dispute! Let’s step up the pressure on these Blairite councillors to make sure they’re the ones eating humble pie soon.

 

The Council says there is no money for these services, yet just like how money was wasted on contracted labour to break the bin strike, the Council have also wasted £12 million on consultants to ‘streamline’ adult social care services in Birmingham – a.k.a. cuts!

 

The bin workers’ victory in 2017 was a source of inspiration for the home
carers to take on the council themselves. Joint strikes by these workers would strengthen both disputes. Nursery campaigners could join up too as they continue their protests against the sell-off of the city’s nurseries. They are all fighting the same enemy and the same threat to jobs, pay, conditions and public services. The bin dispute shows that even though one battle was won, the Council will continue its war on workers. The Council leader may have changed but their agenda has not!

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Birmingham Socialist Party members on a protest in support of the Home Care workers in August 2018

As well as industrial pressure, the unions should work together to apply political
pressure on the Labour council. Last year, Unite assistant general secretary Howard
Beckett rightly told the council: “If you act like Tories, we’ll treat you like Tories.”
The unions should withdraw support from any councillor who continues to impose austerity. Anti-cuts councillors would instead use the platform to build a mass campaign to win more funding from central government, using reserves and borrowing to set no-cuts budgets in the meantime.

 

This Tory Government is weak, divided and unstable – a general election could be called at any moment! Therefore, it is senseless for Birmingham Labour Council to be fighting against its workers when it could be using its influence to fight Central Government.
The Council should work with other Labour Councils across the country to stand up to Tory cuts and no longer act as their axemen. At the same time, it would not take much for the Trade Unions to organise co-ordinated action to not only support the local councils but also to bring the government to its knees.
Now is a better time than ever for the Council to go on the offensive and work with local people and its workers to demand the money Birmingham needs to properly fund services and protect jobs, terms and conditions. And if Labour Councillors reject this proposal and continue to attack their own staff and the trade unions members – then the trade unions should withdraw, not only their support, but also their financial backing, of any candidate which imposes austerity. In their place new candidates standing on a no-cuts platform should be put forward instead.

 

 

Birmingham Labour Council Faces Fresh Strike Action Over Christmas! Bin Workers and Home Carers unite!

Birmingham Labour Council won’t get an easy Christmas as two of its workforces are in the process of being balloted for strike action over the festive period.

Home Carers at Perry Barr bin depot
Striking Home Care workers at Perry Barr bin depot – where the workers there had been on strike in 2017.

Birmingham Home Carers, as this is being written, are currently returning their ballots for the deadline of December 4th. The workers will decide on whether to carry on their dispute around cuts in hours and pay of up to £11,000 a year for some. Already into 12 months of the dispute, and over 47 strike days action, UNISON – the union leading the strike – have been forced to put more political pressure on the Labour Council by the rank and file members.

Frustrated by the lack of affect the full day’s strike action has been having on the Council, as it’s a service which is behind closed doors and not pulling the Councillor’s emotive strings – the workers have taken to leafletting targeted wards of specific Councillors who agreed on the decision to cut their service. The wards include Labour Council leader Ian Ward – his constituency was leafletted in a full 90 minutes! The leaflets call out the political decisions the councillors have made and ask for the citizens to contact their councillor if they feel they aren’t showing ‘Labour values’ – those values which have been behind the massive popularity of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies.

Within a few days of this tactic the Councillors called a meeting with the unions to try to resolve the issue but only if the Home Carers ceased leafletting immediately! However, the Councillors have gone back on their word before as they did around the May Council Elections: promising the Home Carers could trial their own self roster if the worker’s called off five days of strike action. As soon as the elections were over, the Council took off the self-roster trial. Many of the Home Carers are still angered by the ‘betrayal’ of the Council and are pushing for a yes vote for further strike action in the most recent ballot. Their energy has been further renewed by the breaking news that the Birmingham Bin Workers are set to be balloted and potentially be striking at the same time as the Home Carers.

The Bin Worker’s strike and victory over saving the health and safety posts last year after three months of strike action, led by Unite, was a source of inspiration for the Home Care workers to take on the Council themselves. Recent information has come to light indicating the Council paid workers in GMB union (who did not take part in the strike) extra by going to work – blacklisting the Unite members who were on the other side of the picket.

Unite has now held a members’ meeting where the workers called for strike action and will start the balloting process to be finished on December 14th. If a yes vote the worker’s will be out from the 28th December.

Birmingham Socialist Party calls on both Unite and Unison to take joint action as their disputes are tied by cuts to public services and the worsening of jobs, terms and conditions. Furthermore, the unions should work together to apply political pressure on the Blairite Labour Councillors in Birmingham. Last year Howard Beckett, deputy leader of Unite, said ‘if you act like Tories, we’ll treat you like Tories’. That day now needs to be here. After acting as the Tories axeman – year after year attacking its workers – the unions need to withdraw their support from any councillor who continues to impose austerity and stand fighting no-cuts candidates in their place. As well as pushing mandatory re-selection through the Labour Party to ensure all public representatives are held to account.

If these Councillors are allowed to stay in their positions unchallenged, not only will it weaken the unions’ positions, but it will also jeopardise a further surge behind Corbyn if a general election were to be called. The Home Carers, Bin Workers and people of Birmingham, while wanting to support Corbyn’s anti austerity platform, experience the brutal sting of Labour cuts closer to home. If local Councillors refused to implement any cuts, stand on socialist policies, and set ‘no cut’s budgets while using reserves to fill the immediate black hole in funding, it would put Labour in a much stronger position and strengthen Corbyn to call for a general election during the current weak, diabolical state of the Tory Government. Once Corbyn is in no. 10 he could reverse all cuts and pay back the money owed to all councils.

Birmingham workers can lead the way in this struggle by applying the pressure on their unions – we need to fight against every single cut that is made and fight for socialist policies to protect both workers and communities!

Join the Socialists today!