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Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/4047

Posted on 28 April 2008 at 0:00 GMT

Shelter workers step up strike action

A Shelter worker

Last Thursday and Friday, Shelter workers in England and Scotland once again showed their determination by striking to defeat management attacks on their terms and conditions. We were also striking to defend Shelter's radical, campaigning tradition.

There were picket lines in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester with workers on strike in many more locations. Passers by up and down the country stopped to discuss with us and were shocked that workers were being dismissed for opposing the cuts. Some made donations to the strike fund there and then. Others went away to write letters of protest.

On Thursday 24 April, we joined strikers from the NUT, PCS and UCU, demonstrating with them and speaking on shared platforms. Thousands of Shelter union leaflets were given out to members of the public, explaining why this strike is important for the voluntary sector.

Increasingly government is seeking to get public services on the cheap. Shelter management claims that it has to make the cuts in order to compete effectively for government contracts for housing advice. Shelter is wealthy and could provide housing advice services without any government contracts if it wanted to. Instead, it is choosing to offer a sub-standard service funded through contracts simply because it can be done cheaply, in order to seek favour with the New Labour government. It claims this is the way to influence government housing policy. However, Shelter staff see this for what it is: a "race to the bottom" as far as wages, conditions and service to the public are concerned. This is why we marched alongside teachers and civil servants who face government cuts and pay freezes.

Shelter strikers organised two parliamentary lobbies in the House of Commons and Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament, gaining support from many MPs and MSPs. This is important because Shelter management continually try to woo MPs to help deliver Shelter's campaigning aims. The fact that over 70 MPs and MSPs have signed Early Day Motions in support of Shelter strikers is a blow to Shelter management's increasingly shaky attempt to portray itself as squeaky clean.

We will striking again on Wednesday 30th April and Thursday 1st May. Please support us by visiting our picket lines, donating to our strike fund and by sending us messages of support. Shelter Strike Fund, Lloyds TSB, Sort Code: 30-97-51, Account Number: 1448336. Alternatively, please make cheques payable to 'Shelter Strike Fund' and send them to: Shelter Stewards, c/0 48 Swindon Close, Gorton, Manchester, M18 8JQ. Messages of support to: shelterstewards@googlemail.com

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