Socialist Party
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3 May 2007

Greenwich workers fight on

THE CAMPAIGN by Greenwich council workers to stop a package of cuts to pay and conditions is still going from strength to strength. The council has proposed a package that will include pay cuts of up to 130 a week. Council workers, led by Greenwich UNISON where Socialist Party member Onay Kasab is branch secretary, have mounted a mass campaign of opposition.

On 25 April, UNISON members lobbied the council but councillors refused UNISON permission to address the meeting. Some even refused to enter the town hall for fear of the lobby which included classroom assistants, road sweepers, library workers and caretakers.

The next day, 26 April, nearly 400 workers attended a meeting to hear about UNISON's campaign and agreed to intensify it. The branch agreed also to lobby councillors' surgeries. Why should councillors agree massive rises in their allowances while council workers get pay cuts?

The UNISON branch has also agreed that if a single UNISON member loses pay, then a ballot for industrial action must take place. However, lessons have been learnt from previous disputes where union bureaucrats, tied to New Labour, have refused to authorise industrial action.

For instance, nursery nurses in Greenwich have been waiting since February 2006 for the union's regional officials to authorise strike action in support of a pay claim! Should the regional officials try the same tactics in this dispute, they will be met by massive pressure from below.

Greenwich UNISON has also ensured that local shop stewards form the negotiating committees, ensuring maximum accountability.

Next lobby: 6pm, Wednesday 16 May, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18.