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 3s 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.

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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!

Written by workers for workers.

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