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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 August 2012

And the toilet seat medal goes to... Sheffield City Council!

Because that's what around 100 Sheffield council craftsmen think about councillors and management that have left them earning up to 4,000 a year less than labourers after a re-grading exercise.

On strike for the day on 17 August, electricians, mechanics and stone-masons, members of Unite, GMB and Ucatt trade unions, marched down to the town hall after picketing Olive Grove depot from 6am. There they presented the council with their toilet seat medal.

Unite's vote was 81.4% in favour of the walkout, while the other two unions, GMB and Ucatt, secured 100% votes for a strike.

Mark Keeling, Unite convenor said: "The craftsmen have served apprenticeships and taken college courses to do their skilled jobs. At the same time as the council is refusing to review craft wages, it is doing a review of managers' wages in line with equal pay legislation."

On the picket line, most other workers signed the strikers' petition demanding equal pay.

On Monday, these workers along with 480 council Streetforce staff are being transferred over to Amey, a private multinational that has won the 25-year 2 billion Private Finance Initiative contract to repair and maintain Sheffield's roads and street lighting.

Because of penalty clauses in the contract, the craftsmen feel confident that the threat of further strike action can force Amey to concede on pay.

It says something about Sheffield's Labour council when the strikers feel they have more chance of getting re-graded with Amey than a Labour council!

Alistair Tice

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