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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 November 2009

Brighton bin workers score quick victory

Brighton bin workers GMB picket line , photo Sean Figg

Brighton bin workers GMB picket line , photo Sean Figg   (Click to enlarge)

"Don't mess with the best!" Is what one worker quipped to sellers of The Socialist the morning that the Brighton bin workers returned to work after less than two days of solid strike action. Brighton and Hove city council had capitulated almost immediately.

Sean Figg

The council had told workers that they faced pay cuts of up to 8,000 per year! Some nonsense about the council's 'moral duty' to ensure equal pay across council employees was the excuse quoted in the local press.

Unsurprisingly, the result was a determined struggle against this, beginning on 9 November with a five-day strike.

The picket line was some 60-70 workers strong, spirits were high, with one worker commenting: "I'll be on this picket from 6am to 5pm every day and for as long as it takes."

By the end of that Monday the council made an offer. The details of the offer clearly show that the council was just out to try its penny-pinching luck!

The council has proposed that the bin workers will be classified as 'skilled' instead of 'unskilled', meaning higher pay grades. The practical outcome is that 97% of the workers will not lose a penny of pay.

At a mass meeting in the depot canteen the following day, the workers agreed to accept this and suspend strike action for three weeks whilst negotiations over the remaining 3% of workers continued.

This is fantastic news for the vast majority of workers. It clearly demonstrates that militancy pays.

Although the question of why, if the solution was so straightforward, the council felt the need to put 300 workers and their families through all this worry and aggro is something known only to the New Labour councillors and their fat cat chief executive!

Thirty workers, on protected pay, do stand to lose out. This seems to be the council's fault as well - the result of past privatisations, TUPE agreements and other issues.

However, to get 97% of workers' demands met after only one day of strike action shows that when workers are united and determined, vicious attacks can be turned back.

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In The Socialist 18 November 2009:

Fighting for a future

Youth march for jobs


Global Warming

More evidence of climate change: Socialist planning needed


Socialist Party news and analysis

British Airways merger plan poses new threat to workers

Tamil refugees in desperate situation

Labour pushes nuclear plants

Fast news


Socialist Party workplace news

Third week of Superdrug strike

Brighton bin workers score quick victory

Leeds council delays talks to end bin dispute

Sheffield First bus drivers beat back bullying management


Socialist Party feature

Interview with Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary


Marxist analysis: history

USSR 1989 - the collapse of Stalinism


Socialist Party election analysis

Glasgow North East by-election: Mass abstentions in Labour's 'surprise win'

Far right SDL driven out of Glasgow city centre


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Service with a snarl: Robert Service refuses to answer questions


Workplace news and analysis

Working life in a car factory

Ericsson closure condemned by Coventry socialist councillor

Save Ashford further education

London trade unionists meet to build workers' solidarity


 

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