Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/523/3847
Greenwich workers score victory against single status
Greenwich Unison members have voted to accept the council's latest 'single status' proposals. This follows a successful campaign by the trade unions, led by Greenwich Unison, demanding equal pay without pay cuts.
Back in November 2006, the council proposed a series of measures including:
- Increasing the length of the working week.
- Slashing overtime rates.
- Pay cuts for white-collar staff.
- Abolishing bonus payments, enhancements, flexibility payments and all other 'plus' payments.
- Cutting annual leave.
- Cuts in pay for part-time staff.
The Unison branch launched an immediate campaign. This included lobbying the council and massive attendances at branch meetings.
But most importantly the branch took a decision to call for a ballot for industrial action. Many members faced pay cuts of over £130 a week. The council's immediate reaction was to threaten to ballot non-union members. They also made it clear that should the new measures not be accepted, the council would impose them.
The Unison campaign ensured all members were involved. Thousands of council workers were kept up to date through mail-outs to home addresses. A key decision was to include stewards from the affected areas in the negotiating teams.
The initial reaction from the trade union full-time officials was to indicate that the original proposals were not too bad.
The branch secretary, Onay Kasab, was threatened with disciplinary action for supporting the decision of the branch to raise the slogan: "Not a single penny from a single member" - not by the council but by the union!
In addition, the branch agreed to make the call for: "Equal pay, not low pay", while demanding: "Not an hour on the day, nor a penny from our pay".
These slogans gained a massive echo amongst the membership.
The prolonged intensive and inclusive campaign, backed up by the threat of strike action, put the union branch in an excellent negotiating position. The council knew that the negotiators had the backing of thousands of workers. Negotiating from a position of strength is what led to the council making massive concessions. The proposals put to the membership in the ballot included:
- A reduction in the working week.
- No loss of pay.
- Pay increases for manual workers.
- An improved job evaluation system.
- Equal pay compensation.
- Improved overtime rates.
As a result of the campaign and the 'yes' vote, thousands of low-paid workers in Greenwich will now be compensated and receive better, improved rates of pay.
The Unison branch secretary is a member of the Socialist Party. This victory shows how with the correct tactics and strategy, not only can workers fight off attacks but we can win real victories which lead to real improvements in pay for workers.
In The Socialist 4 March 2008:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International Women's Day
Environment and socialism
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis