Birmingham: Solidarity with council workers
Sometimes the bosses hesitate before attacking workers. Sometimes they proceed slowly. And sometimes they rush to strike a devastating blow.
Birmingham Socialist Party members
Birmingham city council struck just such a blow when every one of its 26,000 employees were told that their jobs were on the line unless they accepted reduced pay and conditions.
The move is part of a drive to slash costs in the face of brutal government funding cuts of £330 million. Any council worker who refuses to accept a new contract faces being sacked without compensation, and then may or may not be re-employed on forcibly reduced terms and conditions.
Chief executive Stephen ‘Hatchet’ Hughes made it clear that he would stand for no opposition to the cuts. “Tinkering round the edges doesn’t work in this context”, he stated. “We have to work out a plan and be ruthless in implementing it.”
The Tory-Liberal administration in the city has had no qualms about following the lead of its Con-Dem counterpart in Westminster, having already announced 2,000 redundancies earlier in the year, along with cuts and closures in services such as care homes, nurseries, child protection and mental health support.
The ‘phoney war’ between the classes in Birmingham is over – the bosses have declared open class war.
Workers in Birmingham and the West Midlands will not take this lying down.
They will expect a fighting response from the trade union leaders to defend their terms and conditions and all public services in the region.
Coordinated action by the city’s trade unions can defeat these cuts, with industrial action by council workers backed up by solidarity action from workers elsewhere in the public and private sectors.
Unions should unite to call a massive demonstration in Birmingham to defend public services, leading to a city wide public sector strike if necessary.
The spivs and speculators in the banks and stock exchanges caused this recession by gambling away billions. We say: let the rich pay the price for the crisis, not the workers!
See Birmingham: Front line in the fight against cuts for an extended version of this article.