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!

Written by workers for workers.

The media never covers the real struggles of the working class. Instead they spread lies and misinformation. That's why we have our own newpaper and email list.

Join our email list to keep up with the latest socialist news. We share the protests, strikes, and meetings happening near you.
We are a branch of the Socialist Party, the English and Welsh section of the Committee for a Workers' International - a worldwide revolutionary socialist organisation with parties and groups in countries across the globe.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram