Royal Mail workers were due to strike this week over pensions, working hours and job security. However, a court ruling declared the strike illegal, despite nearly 90% of union members voting to strike on a turnout of 73% Below, we reproduce the text of a leaflet distributed at delivery offices and mail centres throughout the West Midlands, written by CWU (Communication Workers Union) members.
In a marvellous show of determined resistance Royal Mail workers achieved an almost unheard of 90% support for action to stop RM management plans. No wonder! As management plans involve a full scale assault on all conditions, pay and pensions promised when Royal Mail was privatised – in reality, stolen by an ever smaller number of shareholders
Our fight is against the background of a market rigged by government after government against Royal Mail. Rigged in order to create a ‘gig economy’ race to the bottom.
So, Postal workers are right to fight back. Like the Brum Bin workers, we have decided enough is enough of Austerity where workers suffer cut after
cut to pay for the failings of the Fat Cats while they continue to fill their own pockets.
We should note the strong public support Bin workers -threatened with a £5,000 pay cut- received despite the rubbish on the streets. For sure, it surprised their bosses!
It indicates that should industrial action be needed, we too could build significant support. This is because so many other workers are having the same done to them and they too have had enough, so their sympathy is with the strikers. It’s also because in growing numbers the public oppose the robbery that is privatisation and support renationalisation of industries like Water, Rail &
With what could be a bitter dispute looming, CWU should link the dispute to calls for Royal Mail to be renationalised as a step to a publicly owned postal and delivery industry, democratically run by workers and customers. Jeremy Corbyn’s General Election manifesto put the idea of public ownership back on the
political agenda by pledging to re-nationalise the likes of Royal Mail and the rail companies. His electoral success that denied the cocky Tories a majority, showed that policies such as these are popular with ordinary people who
increasingly see the failure of privatisation.
Running off to the courts, in fact showed the weakness of the bosses, terrified by the strength of feeling shown in the ballot. Also that it’s happening at a time when the Tory privatisers are in crisis and Jeremy Corbyn has popularised the idea of re-nationalisation.
Workers militant mood has seen a series of unofficial wildcat actions at RM offices recently. Many postal workers will consider national unofficial walkouts on the planned strike days. For sure, if it is built for, 110,000 postal workers taking
action together would show in practice how the anti-union laws can be defeated.
And acting together is the best way to ensure that members and reps are protected from any victimisation. And the best way to ensure that the CWU isn’t
isolated is for the TUC and the unions to organise practical support for RM workers and be prepared to call mass solidarity demonstrations and even
strikes in support.
NSSN Solidarity Forum – 1pm-4pm Saturday October 21st, John Lee Theatre, Birmingham and Midland Institute, 9 Margaret St, Birmingham B3 3BS
On Saturday 21st October, The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) will be holding a solidarity forum in Birmingham, to bring together trade union activists from across the West Midlands to discuss how we can link up the struggle against austerity in both the public and private sectors.
The NSSN is holding this public forum as workers look to fight the brutal attack on workers’ living standards by the employers and their Tory government that has caused a cut in incomes not seen since Victorian times. But the fightback is underway. The summer has already seen a whole number of workers on strike – including at Barts NHS Trust, British Airways Mixed Fleet cabin crew, Bank of England, Argos, Mears, Birmingham bin workers and of course the historic McDonald’s workers.
In addition, the RMT transport union has continued and escalated its action against driver-only operated trains, with coordinated strikes at four train companies. Also, the CWU is about to announce the result of its strike ballot of 110,000 workers in Royal Mail on 3 October, the first national ballot under the new undemocratic voting thresholds of the Tory Trade Union Act. It’s not lost on workers that this is now a weak and divided Tory government and confidence is growing.
There is even talk that ministers are considering ‘relaxing’ the 1% public sector pay cap. But the unions should beware of being split into ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ public sector workers – we all need a pay rise. In any case, these rumours should give us the confidence to build a real movement that can inflict a serious if not decisive defeat on the Tories and their austerity.
Last month’s TUC Congress passed a resolution to “facilitate, organise and coordinate collective action and campaigns, including industrial action when required, on the part of affiliates to end public sector pay restraint across the UK… organise a national demonstration… take immediate steps to develop a coordinated strategy of opposition to the pay cap within the public sector, including the sharing and coordinating of bargaining timetables and pay demands, campaign activities, tactics, ballots and industrial action.”
But how do union members put this strategy into practice? PCS is launching a consultative pay ballot in early October to prepare for a strike vote over the next few months. What about other public sector unions? Can we link private sector strikes with the fight on public sector pay? How do we build solidarity for all the disputes? Come to our forum and take part in the discussion and debate.
1-4pm, Saturday 21st October, The Birmingham and Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham B3 3BS. All trade union members and supporters welcome.
Speakers include: Howard Beckett (Unite Assistant General Secretary), Richard Beddowes (Birmingham Binworkers Convenor), Paul Reilly (RMT National Executive), Jane Nellist (NEU National Executive), Royal Mail CWU Representative (invited)
We are pleased to publish the following statement issued by our sister organisation in Barcelona, Esquerra Revolucionaria on the weekend’s events as Spanish state forces attempted to violently suppress the independence referendum taking place in Catalonia. For more reports in English from our comrades on the ground as events unfold, be sure to visit http://www.socialistworld.net
On 1 October, Catalonia looked like a territory under military occupation. Thousands of police and civil guards – sent by the government of the Partido Popular (People’s Party/PP) and the State Attorney’s Office – used savage repression to prevent voting in the referendum and undertook a vicious crackdown against tens of thousands of peaceful citizens, families, children and the elderly. They smashed the glass panes of schools and stole ballot boxes as if they were trophies. This indiscriminate violence prevented voting taking place in 400 schools. But the riot police, the PP government and the State did not count on the massive resistance of the Catalan people. They exercised their right to vote with determination and courage in thousands of electoral polling stations and undoubtedly defeated a repressive offensive, unprecedented in over forty years.
According to the official data of the Generalitat, 844 people were injured by the police and the civil guard, two of whom are in a serious condition in two hospitals in Barcelona. Images of thousands of police force deploying all their violent repression to prevent the Catalan population from expressing themselves democratically went around the world. The international media compares these actions of the repressive forces of the State with the Franco dictatorship. And it is impossible to deny this comparison.
The images of the Franco regime have returned and this time enforced by Prime Minister Rajoy and his government of thieves, reactionaries and right wing Spanish nationalist chauvinists. Hoping to teach the population of Catalonia a lesson, the heirs of the dictatorship reaped a whirl wind. The rage, indignation and fury of millions of young people and workers are a wall against which the right and its repressive state crashed.
The political lessons of what happened on ‘1-O’ in Catalonia will be recorded in the consciousness of millions of people, both from Catalonia and the rest of the state and internationally. The justification that the PP and its government are merely applying the law, cannot mask that the law is unfair, undemocratic and goes directly against the aspirations of millions of Catalans who they are trying to muzzle. These facts make even more shameful the capitulation of the leadership of PSOE [Partido Socialista Obrero Español – social-democratic party], which preferred to make an alliance with the heirs of Franco rather than recognise the right of the people of Catalonia to decide their future.
The political bankruptcy of PSOE leadership
After the triumph of Pedro Sanchez in the first of the PSOE leadership elections, and the defeat of those leaders who made possible the investiture of Rajoy as president of the right wing PP government, there was much hope that something was beginning to change with social democracy, that there was a possibility of a turn to the left. All these hopes have, once again, been disappointed by the unspeakable behaviour of Pedro Sánchez and the current PSOE leadership on the Catalan national question.
The complicity of the leaders of the PSOE with the PP in attempting to muzzle the people of Catalonia and prevent them from voting on 1 October will go down in the history of social democracy as one of its most infamous pages. The intervention of Pedro Sánchez, on the same day that tens of thousands of people were subjected to excessive police violence, crying crocodile tears over “police charges” while not daring to call things by their right name, and then reaffirming his unwavering support for the “rule of law, the institutions, the Constitution and territorial integrity”, that is, the government of the PP and “one Spain large and free”, demonstrate PSOE’s complete political bankruptcy.
The leaders of PSOE revealed during these weeks the dire consequences of embracing for years Spanish nationalism and merging with the ruling class, in all essential matters. They have not only abandoned a socialist position on the national question – which has always defended the right to self-determination of the oppressed nations – but they try to hide their responsibility by rhetorically calling for “negotiation” and “dialogue”. In fact they have placed themselves alongside the Francoists who resort to State violence and repression.
The argument that the 1-O referendum was a “coup d’état” or an “anti-democratic” imposition on a sector of the Catalan population, is one of the biggest lies that the media try to sell at the service of the bourgeoisie Spanish. And an absurd lie! If the State, the PP, Citizens or the current PSOE leadership are so sure that the ‘independentistas’ are a minority, why not accept the polls? Why try to stop people voting? Why in Venezuela is a vote fine but not in Catalonia?
In a democratic vote on self-determination, anyone who not does not support independence has the clear choice to vote No. The parties that defend the 1978 constitution have a great amount of resources and influence to campaign in favour of their arguments and against independence. The real reason that explains the attitude of the right and the state is not that they defend democracy, but rather the opposite: they deny that the people of Catalonia have the right to decide and that Catalonia is a nation. Their position is simply the continuation of a course that has historically been expressed by the Spanish bourgeoisie and its centralist state, frequently quashing by military means the national-democratic aspirations of Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia. That is what happened under Franco’s dictatorship. Since the ‘Transition’ any progress in winning these rights has always been the result of mass mobilization.
The 1978 Constitution
The mobilization of millions of young people, workers and citizens of Catalonia has questioned the authoritarian and oligarchic character of the capitalist regime enacted in 1978. In order to abort a revolutionary situation – in which the working class and youth of all the territories of the State put the Spanish dictatorship and capitalism on the ropes – the Spanish bourgeoisie and the leaders of the organizations of the left (PCE [Spanish Communist Party] and PSOE) agreed to reform the dictatorship in exchange for legally recognizing the democratic freedoms that had already been conquered by the mobilisation of the masses. In this way, the socialist transformation of society was prevented, and the bourgeoisie maintained control of the situation through a monarchical and parliamentary regime that included significant authoritarian elements.
The 1978 Constitution enacted many things: a law that allowed impunity for the crimes of Francoism, the state apparatus was never purged; the judiciary, police and military remained in the hands of the same reactionaries. Of course, the “free market” economy and the unquestioned power of the capitalists were guaranteed, and the right to self-determination refused to Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia denied, inscribed in the Constitution with the language of the Franco dictatorship: ‘Spain, large and free’.
The mass movement unleashed in Catalonia in favour of national-democratic rights has placed the debate at an essential point. The denial that Catalonia is a nation has been reiterated by the centralist bourgeoisie and the right wing and enacted through repression or simple military conquest. This has been combined with widespread frustration at the terrible consequences of capitalist crisis; mass unemployment, evictions, job precariousness and low wages, and the lack of a future for the youth. The struggle against national oppression and class oppression have intertwined, as in other times in Spain (1909, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1977 …) generating a revolutionary potential that has defied the forms of political domination of the Spanish capitalist regime.
The working class and the youth of the whole State must understand that the cause of the people of Catalonia is also ours. “A people who oppress another can never be free,” said Karl Marx. That is why the labour movement throughout its history always inscribed on its flag the struggle for national liberation, for the self-determination of oppressed nations, as part of the struggle for the socialist transformation of society. Today in Catalonia we are fighting for the democratic freedoms that cost so to be won in the 1970s. If today the government act against the people of Catalonia, what will happen tomorrow? The answer is not difficult to work out. Tomorrow they will intensify the repression against all those who rise up against injustice and call into question their oppression and their rule. They will approve new gagging laws, more exceptional measures of repression, more Francoist impunity.
The Spanish ruling class prepares new attacks against Catalonia
On 1 October, there was a turning point in the class struggle not only in Catalonia, but in the whole Spanish state. The government of the PP has shown by its repressive action, that is an extreme weak government and its absolute lack of legitimacy. Attempts to mobilise its social base in the days before the referendum were reduced to a small pathetic minority on demonstrations, dominated by fascist elements that sang their anthem “Facing the sun” and raised their arms in the fascist salute.
As in all great events of history, it has been the direct action of the masses, their revolutionary intervention, which has changed the whole scenario. The crisis of the Spanish political regime, of the forms of domination of the bourgeoisie maintained during four decades, is being shaken. The decision of the Generalitat [Catalan government], after a day of historical mass mobilisations, to present the results of the referendum before the Parliament (about 2,100,000 votes in favour – 90% of those who voted), and possibly proceed to declare a Catalan Republic, has set off all the alarms bells amongst the Spanish ruling class.
The challenge is of such a magnitude resulted in the PP government openly speaking now of a coup against the Catalan institutions, dissolving the Catalan government and ending autonomy. The El Mundo newspaper editorial said: “Faced with this flagrant insurrection against legitimate order, and in a revolutionary context that includes the call for a general strike, the government cannot delay in taking the measures necessary to cut short plans for separatism, including the immediate application of Article 155 of the Public Safety Act, in order to preserve legality and place the Mossos under state control”(‘Not a moment to lose against independentismo, October 2, 2017).
Other sections of the media, such as El País, cheering on the PP for weeks and applauding every one of the repressive measures adopted in the days before the referendum, now see after what happened on 1 October an increasingly more complicated situation which requires negotiation between the central government and the Generalitat. But the PP and the state apparatus are tied to the position of denial of the right to self-determination for Catalonia.
It is very difficult to establish a fixed perspective for the events that will develop in the next days. But the confrontation, that is to say, the class struggle, is going to see a great escalation. The PP has already threatened the leadership of PSOE with new general elections if it does not give its unwavering support to defend the current constitutional position. That is, support for new repressive and authoritarian measures.
The question is very specific. The population mobilized in Catalonia feels strong after the political triumph against the repression of 1 October. Consciousness has taken a giant step forward. Now is the time to take advantage of this situation, to achieve the immediate resignation of Rajoy, defeat this repressive onslaught and win, in a revolutionary way, the Catalan republic, which would represent a brutal blow against the Spanish capitalist regime and its centralist state. This would become a powerful tool in the fight against the policies of austerity and open up the way to the socialist transformation of society.
Respond with massive mobilization. For a Catalan socialist republic
All conditions are maturing to achieve these goals. The call for the general strike on 3 October, which finally the union federations, the CCOO and UGT de Catalonia have been dragged into supporting, is a reflection of the enormous pressure of the masses and the critical point that has been reached in the crisis. The strike will be a success without doubt, but it is necessary to go further.
It is necessary that the CUP [Popular Unity Candidacy], Podemos and Catalunya in Comú and ERC [Republican Left of Catalonia] establish a clear and left front that defends a working class, internationalist and revolutionary socialist alternative that is not subordinate to the Catalan nationalist bourgeoisie. We cannot forget that even though they now suffer the reactionary onslaught of the PP, these political leaders have applied savage social cuts that have caused immense suffering and defend their own privileges and class interests of the economic elite. We cannot rule out that these bourgeois leaders, as they have done in the past, so many times, again betray the aspirations of the people and try to agree to a beneficial outcome for them with the State and the PP government.
The fighting left, the labour movement and unions in Catalonia today have the enormous responsibility to offer a way out of this revolutionary crisis, and that is to deepen and extend the struggle, preparing an indefinite general strike in the workplaces to resist any repressive action by the state, to win a Catalan republic with a left government at the forefront. Such a government could carry out a programme that will meet the needs of the majority of the population and oppose the Spanish and Catalan capitalist oligarchy.
A left government should immediately end cuts, ensuring quality public education and health, create millions of jobs with living wages and rights, and end evictions by establishing a public housing scheme with social, really affordable rents. This government could end the dictatorship of the elite by nationalising banking and the large corporations, to place wealth at the service of the needs of the majority of society.
A Catalan republic gained by the revolutionary action of the masses would necessarily imply the struggle against PDeCAT [Catalan European Democratic Party] and Puigdemont [Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Catalan Generalitat] against all the political and economic oligarchy that has governed Catalonia applying the same neo-liberal recipes as the PP. It would open the door to the struggle for a socialist republic in Catalonia and a federal socialist republic in the Spanish state, based on a free and voluntary union of peoples and nations that make up the Spanish state, and to win over the active solidarity of the oppressed masses of Europe and the whole world.
It is necessary to stop defending utopian ideas that are a dead-end. Right-wing reactionaries will never grant the right to self-determination to the people of Catalonia because they know that doing so not only represents a defeat of all their policies, but also encourages all workers and youth, in all territories, to settle accounts with the government and the system, as a whole.
It is time for Unidos Podemos and its leader Pablo Iglesias to go from words to deeds. We must organize the active solidarity of the population of the rest of the State with the struggle of the Catalan people. His triumph will be our triumph, and achieving this will not be done with motions on censorship nor by imploring PSOE leader, Pedro Sánchez, to abandon his support for the PP. They need to follow the example of the youth, workers and citizens of Catalonia during these last few weeks: with direct action, with mass mobilization, with the courage that makes possible the defeat of an adversary that only counts on repression.
Esquerra Revolucionària (Revolutionary Left) want to build a strong left-wing alternative that will promote the unity of the workers and the youth of Catalonia with their class brothers across the Spanish state, in a common struggle for socialism and to end the national oppression of Catalonia, Euskal Herria [Basque Country] and Galicia. This can only become a reality in this era of imperialist decay if it is firmly rooted in the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and for the socialist transformation of society.
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.
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.
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
To defeat & kickout Manzie and the backstabbing Labour Cabinet
Bin Workers and working class people across Birmingham will be celebrating the resignation of Labour Council leader John Clancy this evening.
Fighting and striking back gets results!
But the attacks on grade 3s, jobs and services still remain. Unelected chief executive—Stella Manzie who ignored the ACAS agreement and sent out the redundancy notices and Labour Councillor Lisa Trickett and the Labour Council Cabinet remain in place and hold the same responsibility and blame for the current attacks, lies and backstabbing as Clancy.
They can be defeated though!
Bin workers should be even more confident they can win this fight. A mobilisation like never before to continue to step up the action and build for the demonstration outside the council house at 11am this Sunday, 17th September can help further hammer the nail into this weak and divided council and defeat once and for all their attacks on the grade 3s and jobs and services in Birmingham
Labour Councillors John Clancy and Lisa Trickett and Chief exec Stella Manzie must resign given their disgraceful role in the dispute and their lies to the Brum public.
In refusing to even meet to discuss the ACAS/UNITE/Clancy agreement at Cabinet the Blairite Labour Council has shown it’s not interested in resolving the dispute through talks. Instead, they have signalled their intention to smash union organisation in the Council.
This latest act comes after Cllr Trickett has publicly stated that the bin workers were ‘holding the city to ransom’. How dare the council claim there’s not the money to settle the dispute – the council spent £40k a day on an army of untrained ‘Scab Labour’, adding up to £2 million so far spent to break the strike!
If that wasn’t bad enough, Council leader John Clancy spent Thursday and Friday denying that a deal to keep the jobs of Grade 3 bin workers had even been struck. Then, over the weekend, a statement from ACAS revealed that just such a deal had been agreed by both parties! The contempt shown by this dishonest approach for both the workforce and the residents of Birmingham is just staggering.
Some will no doubt say that the actions of the Council were ‘predictable’. However, it was correct that the union gave an opportunity for talks to succeed. As the council has refused to take that opportunity now is the time to return to industrial action and mobilise the energy, solidarity and tactics that proved successful in forcing the employer to the table and gaining the support of the Birmingham public.
It now has come out that, along with others, Hall Green Labour Councillor Barry Bowles is calling for Clancy to step down. Not because of his lying about the existence of an agreement, or his part in dragging the dispute out…but for not being “tough” enough when it comes to trying to break the union!
Just last week after the u-turn on the deal was announced, the same Cllr Bowles said “We need to follow the advice of the council’s officers, who we pay a lot of money to…even if it puts the strike back on”
If councillors like Bowles are only going to do whatever the unelected officers tell them to do, what is the point of them standing in the first place?
If Labour councillors won’t stand up for us, we need to be prepared to run candidates against them that will take the fight to the Tories and their cuts!
The 1st of September saw Birmingham’s bin workers out on strike again, after council chief exec Stella Manzie went over the heads of elected councillors and scrapped the previously agreed deal to keep Grade 3 jobs.
Many workers at Perry Barr saw the Council’s decision to issue redundancy notices before the planned Cabinet meeting that day had even taken place as a declaration of all out war by Council bosses on their workforce. One worker commented: “this isn’t about saving money, this is a politically fuelled attack, and the bosses are determined to do whatever it takes to break us”
Meanwhile at Digbeth, pickets made no bones about this looking like being a struggle to the end, and a must win one. As one said: “it’s obvious what they’re (BCC bosses) are trying to do – get rid of the Grade 3 loaders, so that they can come back and knock the drivers down to that pay band later. And then if they force that on us, what’s to stop them trying on similar stuff with other parts of the workforce?”
In any case, it looks like Birmingham residents are seeing through the Council’s recklessness in dragging out this dispute and going back on it’s promises – at least if the increased number of beeping horns outside Tyseley is anything to go by. What’s vital is that the union steps up the publicity campaign to explain to the public what’s at stake here for workers and the public, both through the media, online, and hopefully with the holding of public rallies/protests.