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Posted on 18 April 2011 at 10:45 GMT

Strikes continue at Leeds Federated Housing

From Thursday last week (14 April) Unison members working as housing support workers at Leeds Federated Housing have been taking five days of strike action. The first two days coincided with open days been run by the housing association.

Iain Dalton, Hyde Park and Headingley Socialist Party

As reported previously, the strike is over attacks on pay and the regrading of workers who are facing huge pay cuts whilst having their workloads doubled.

Management, on the other hand, face no pay cuts and have recently increased rents by 5%.

But this struggle doesn't just affect housing support workers at Leeds Fed, housing support workers at other housing associations in Leeds are facing the same attacks as contracts with the council come up for renewal.

Touchstone workers took one day of strike action on Monday 11 April; their CEO is Labour councillor in Armley, Alison Lowe. The workers there have had a pitiful offer of a 500 bonus, nowhere near compensating for the loss in earnings they will face.

The other two housing associations where Leeds Unison organises, Foundation and Community Links, are also in the process of balloting for industrial action.

If the attack on housing support workers succeeds, changes will be forced on other staff further down the line in a 'race to the bottom'.

If, as appears to be the case at present, management still refuses to negotiate, then the action needs to be escalated. On the picket lines there has been a high level of support from other Leeds Federated workers for the strikers.

But crucially, given the scope of the attacks, Leeds Unison should coordinate action between workers at different housing associations so they come out on the same day.

As Wednesday 20 April is the last day of this current run of strike action, the strikers have asked other trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners to come to support their picket line that day with banners and placards.

The picket runs from 7.30am until 5pm outside Arthington House, 30 Westfield Road, Leeds, LS3 1DE.

Messages of support can be sent to andypayne48@hotmail.co.uk

Added on 21 April 2011:

Anti-cuts activists rally to support Leeds Fed strikers

Wednesday 20 April saw the final day of a five day strike by housing support workers at Leeds Federated Housing who face large pay cuts and the downgrading of some of their jobs.

To mark the last day of this run of five, they called for support for their morning picket lines and around 20 or so trade unionists, socialists and anti-cuts campaigners turned up in support, with more supporters visiting over the course of the day.

Added to the Unison placards and flags that have been on the picket lines every day were banners from Unite and Usdaw members alongside the Leeds Youth Fight for Jobs and Leeds Socialist Party banners.

The mood was further heightened in the afternoon as the first press for days came to cover the strike as a result of a press release put out by Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts candidate for nearby Headingley ward, Ian Pattison, that said that he and other anti-cuts activists in Leeds would be supporting the pickets.

The strikers lit up a barbeque and discussed with those offering support, including with union members and reps from Touchstone (who took a day's strike action the previous week over similar attacks) and Community Links who are also housing support workers.

At the moment there has been a stoney wall of silence from Leeds Fed management, but union officials brought the news on Tuesday that they had been able to arrange a meeting through the city council with the management of all four companies contracted by the city council to provide housing support (Leeds Fed, Touchstone, Community Links and Foundation).

If management still refuses to back down on these attacks then strike action should be coordinated between all affected workers. To aid in this process it is vital that Unison creates a forum whereby stewards at the four workplaces can meet to discuss not just these attacks, but also future issues affecting housing support workers.

Iain Dalton, Hyde Park and Headingley Socialist Party

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