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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 June 2014

Strike back for a living wage

Strike back for a living wage!, photo Paul Mattsson

Strike back for a living wage!, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Mike Forster, Unison local government service group executive member (personal capacity)

Last week I got a text from a worried workmate: "1,400 redundancies, what we going to do mate?" "We will have to fight" was my response as we discussed the announcement that 1,400 jobs are to go from Kirklees council. Across the country, councils - Labour and Tory alike - are continuing the jobs slaughter as they settle back into office after the local elections.

To the question: 'when are we going to get a pay rise?', the stock response is 'at least you have a job'. But how much more can we take? The politicians, financiers and the media tell us that the recovery is well underway and will be long-lasting. So why should we have to endure further wage restraint and an escalation of redundancies in the public sector?

Our Labour council has ripped up almost every agreement with the union, and accuses us of being 'out of touch' for wanting to negotiate a policy of no compulsory redundancies. A storm is brewing, and workplace meetings indicate that staff have had enough.

The pending pay strike on 10 July cannot come soon enough. The Unison ballot result is expected on 23 June but all indications are that we will have a yes vote. The National Union of Teachers will join us on the day, hopefully along with Unite, GMB and PCS who are also balloting.

Council reserves are at an all-time high. Kirklees has underspent every year for the last seven years. After the local elections, the Local Government Association is now under Labour control. If Labour is serious about a living wage, it will negotiate with us for a better deal - our claim is for a 1 an hour increase to make up for the 18% fall over the last three years.

Several Socialist Party members have been elected to Unison's service group executives (see page 9). We will be fighting for the full claim and for a clear calendar of action which can restore confidence in the fighting ability of the union.

It's time to put Labour to the test and, more importantly, to claw back a decent living wage from local authorities which have got away with way too much in axing vitally needed jobs and services.


"Fight together for a pay rise"

Come to the National Shop Stewards Network conference

11am-5pm, Saturday 5 July

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 18 June 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Strike back for a living wage

Report shows huge support for taxing rich

Survey shows potential for new mass workers' party

Them & Us

Kshama Sawant to speak at Socialism 2014


International socialist news and analysis

Iraq: Oil war's bloody legacy

Brazil: Upsurge in struggles of workers and homeless


Socialist Party workplace news

How should the RMT maintain Bob Crow's tradition?

Unison local government members want action on pay

Bakers call for 10 minimum wage

Escalation of FBU dispute begins

Lambeth College indefinite strike

Safety Glass workers strike for a real pay rise

Trades council conference: workers won't wait for TUC

Workplace news in brief

Come to the NSSN conference on 5 July


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition campaign reports

Rhydyfelin library saved

Nottinghamshire fire cuts - "pushed to breaking point"

Orgreave 30th anniversary - solidarity and celebration

Birmingham: new Socialist Party branch

Socialist Party Summer Camp 2014


Readers' comments and reviews

"Self-employed" and exploited

Book review: The man who loved dogs

Letters to the Socialist


 

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