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15 June 2012

Solidarity action escalates Kirklees strike

From 12 to 14 June, around 400 admin workers took strike action in Kirklees protesting against appalling attacks on their pay and conditions of service by the newly elected Labour council.

For the last two years the council has been conducting a review of all admin workers, seeking to make further savings and supposedly 'deal with backroom staff'.

As the review reached its end, the council could not identify enough volunteers to leave their jobs and has started to try to impose cuts in pay and jobs.

Unison has taken a principled stand fighting under the slogan of 'no to cuts in pay, hours or jobs'. A ballot undertaken three months ago secured a massive majority for action, but the council decided to sit out any action and called off talks.

A one-day strike called three weeks ago was followed by last week's three-day strike. Large numbers of pickets descended on workplaces calling for solidarity support.

The first day of action saw around 15 pickets bringing all bin collections grinding to a halt. Bin workers refused to cross picket lines in a brilliant show of solidarity.

An impromptu meeting was called for the workers by Unison stewards and they voted to refuse to work. The following day, pickets swooped on the council's computer centre, and yet again, all union members refused to cross the line.

The pickets have grown in confidence and militancy. They told us they have suffered poor health worrying about the review and have been insulted by the disgraceful bullying, trying to impose wage cuts and job losses.

Now the boot is on the other foot, with the local press declaring the strike has been a huge success

The council is still trying to sit out the dispute and impose its own solutions. This is a huge attack on the entire union branch, using these workers as the whipping boy for wage cuts and job losses across the board.

The branch has now demanded an industrial action ballot for its entire membership to ensure the council is brought back to the negotiating table.

The dispute hangs in the balance, but only further escalation can maintain the momentum of the early strike action.

A Kirklees Unison member