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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 June 2001

CSL's Sheffield sacking scandal

Hands Off Our Public Services

For a national strategy to defeat the profiteers

CSL IS the private company hired two years ago by Sheffield council to run their financial services. It was almost the last act of the Labour council before they were kicked out in May 1999, to be replaced by the Liberals, then campaigning against privatisation.

Alistair Tice, Sheffield Socialist Party

When the Labour councillors voted unanimously to privatise the housing benefit services, UNISON correctly predicted it would lead to disaster. There are backlogs of thousands of claims, soaring rent arrears of 20 million and increases in evictions and homelessness. CSL are now axing 65 jobs

31 people left last week on voluntary severance and, as we go to press, eleven staff including two shop stewards have been issued with compulsory redundancy notices and barred from coming into work. The stewards, Maggie Middleton and Annette Carey, are the two UNISON reps who led the strike against privatisation two years ago. This is the firm's revenge against these workers.

Victimising shop stewards is not new to CSL. Three UNISON stewards have been sacked in Newham, east London (see box). Staff in Sheffield have been threatened with instant dismissal if they speak to the press.

CSL's new general manager, Mark Holmes arrived in Sheffield a few months ago promising to turn the company around because it is planning a stock market flotation. He told the workforce: "Every worker should come to work and ask themselves - what have I done for the share price today?"

Instead of allowing CSL to line their pockets at the expense of the people of Sheffield, the Liberal council should be forced to sack CSL immediately and reinstate the sacked workers.

UNISON must oppose CSL at every level. But CSL is only one small part of the nightmare of privatisation. UNISON must develop a national strategy to defeat the profiteers.

Benefits staff have successfully called on the UNISON branch, with the backing of UNISON's Yorkshire region, to call a demonstration against the redundancies. Town Hall Peace Gardens, lunchtime on 21 June.

Messages of protest to: Mark Holmes, CSL general manager (Sheffield), PO Box 1310, Sheffield S1 1UY. Tel: 0114 273 4305. Fax: 0114 273 6356
Also to his boss: Dick Turpin, CSL director (business development), CSL Group Ltd, PO Box 17903, Millbank Tower, London SW1P 4ZT. Tel: 0207 217 4500. Fax: 0207 217 4567.

LAST NOVEMBER, CSL - the housing benefit contractor in Newham, east London - sacked three UNISON stewards. The union stewards had challenged CSL's working conditions, workloads, bullying and harassment.

They were dismissed 'after bringing CSL and the council into disrepute'. But a letter from the manager involved in the disciplinary action revealed that she wanted 'rid' of the stewards and had even costed this at 15,000 each!

An Industrial Tribunal will hear the stewards' case in October.
Details: CSL - Newham 3, PO Box 1681, London N8 7L; email: housingbenefit@hotmail.com

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In The Socialist 22 June 2001:

Anti-Capitalist Resistance Continues

No To Privatisation

Unison Leaders Under Pressure

Hands Off Our Public Services

Gothenburg's Police State

Socialist Alliance Takes Stock Of Election Results

Middle East Conflict: A Failure Of Capitalism

Inside Labour's Bermuda Triangle

Victory Against The Private Profiteers


 

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