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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 September 2013

Taking the anti-cuts fight to the councils

Overwhelming opposition stuns Hull council

Mick Whale

Hull city council workers have stuck an enormous two fingers up to the cuts. They have rejected the worsening of terms and conditions which management was trying to force on them as part of the council's attempts to balance the budget - by making the workforce suffer.

Indicative ballots across the authority during the summer weeks, delivered votes of more than 80% rejection in all unions.

Unison, the largest union achieved a 90% rejection and their ballot included support for industrial action, up to and including strike action.

The size of the rejection vote surprised the Labour cabinet, the officers and some of the union leaders.

What it shows is that there is a preparedness of local authority workers to fight.

Significantly, the highest turnout in the vote against the proposals came from Unison, which had actively campaigned through workplace and mass meetings.

There is no doubt that this pushed up the turnout and the extent of the rejection.

The hated chief executive, Darryl Stephenson has ended up with egg on his face.

His advice to the Labour cabinet was to sack and re-engage on the worst possible terms and conditions irrespective of the vote.

Literally within minutes of the result being communicated, the Labour portfolio holder for human resources was on the phone seeking a meeting with the trade union representatives to try and find a different way forward.

Council workers are not out of the woods yet but the result will give the workers confidence.

It remains to be seen exactly what 'different way forward' the authority comes back with.

However, by knocking back the attempts to worsen terms and conditions, the workforce has made itself less attractive to would-be private contractors who are circling round the authority like vultures.

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In The Socialist 18 September 2013:


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