Housing Workers Strike Against Pay Robbery

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On the picket line outside the HCA office on Colmore Row

Workers and members of Unite the union have successfully balloted and started strike action at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) across multiple sites in the country. We at the Socialist Party here in Birmingham visited and supported the local picket line at the Colmore Row office in the city centre.

 

Unite members are on strike in protest at years of real-terms pay cuts and pay inequality. Broken down the main grievances expressed by the membership are…

• 2 years frozen pay, increases capped for 8 years at 1%, while inflation is over 3%

• Gender pay disparity

• Discriminatory pay setting practices

• No pay progression mechanism

• AND STILL NO PAY NEGOTIATIONS!

 

Any one of these issues on their own is enough to start organising in the workplace but with several attacks on workers' pay and conditions it’s absolutely justified and vitally necessary to take direct action to fight back and pressure management in overturning all these appalling attacks HCA workers have had to deal with for so long.

 

However management have expressed very clearly they have no desire in rectifying these issues. Unite reps described management’s behaviour as a disgrace. Instead of listening to members' concerns, they turned up to pay meetings with no interest in resolving the dispute, and the CEO hasn’t turned up to any of the emergency pay meetings.

 

Anyone who has had the misfortune to experience similar issues in their workplace will know going on strike is the last choice as it puts workers in a precarious situation and at risk when thinking of living costs of housing, transport, family dependants and a society where so many workers live pay check to pay check. However when managers completely stonewall union reps from serious negotiations and collective bargaining workers must be prepared to stand up for their rights and say enough is enough!

HCA leaflet
Leaflet distributed by striking Unite members

To rub insult into injury management consultants are on inflated fees, but the rest don’t even get pay rises covering the cost of inflation. All while staff are struggling financially, especially for female members of staff who are doubly attacked with a gender pay gap existing within the workplace as outlined in a report produced by HCA themselves! The employer is happy to identify pay discrimination but do nothing about it, shame on them.

 

However despite all this spirits were high and socialist party members received a warm welcome to join and support the picket line by handing out strike materials and talking to workers as they went into the office building where HCA is based and having conversations with members of the public passing by with great amounts of sympathy and support being expressed.

 

Despite being the biggest union recognised in HCA, Unite is not the only union representing workers in HCA as there is also PCS who are currently deciding / taking a ballot whether to join the strike but have expressed fraternal support. We at the Socialist Party urge PCS members to vote yes for strike action and join shoulder to shoulder with Unite members to increase strength in numbers and combat all the same attacks ALL HCA staff are dealing with.

 

Even though we want the management to see sense and re-open and have serious negotiations with Unite reps we at the Socialist party are fully prepared to back striking HCA workers to the hilt and offer all practical, political and industrial support as needs be to see all these attacks reversed and consigned to the dustbin of history.

Written by workers for workers.

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