Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/21360
7½ out of 8 victory for Doncaster council workers
Steve Williams and Alistair Tice
Day one of a planned ten day strike by 200 Doncaster council workers, fighting imposed new shift patterns and weekend working:
7-30am, North Bridge council depot. 50 guys on the gates. "Hi there, we're from the Socialist Party, come down to give you our support".
"Strike's off mate! Council gave in, about 9-20pm last night, made them sign a deal taking all their proposals off the table. We've won, for now."
Doncaster Labour council was trying to force nearly 300 workers who work Monday to Friday in the Highways, Streetscene and Grounds maintenance departments onto new contracts involving working 11-hour shifts and 26 weekends in a year.
Unison, Unite and GMB members all voted by 70-80 odd per cent to take industrial action. And no messing about with one-day strikes. A ten day strike coinciding with the St Leger horseracing festival next week was due to begin this morning.
The council chief executive Jo Miller attacked the trade unions: "I am disappointed that the unions are taking deliberate, targeted and unnecessary strike action when Doncaster is on show to the rest of the world for its jewel in the crown - the St Leger festival - that is known to millions internationally. This appears to be an extraordinary own goal by them and I urge them to reconsider."
Well actually Jo, yours is the own goal. It was management that "with impeccable timing" according to the GMB rep, broke off negotiations after nine months, and now it's you that's had to reconsider despite your threats about "illegal strike action".
One union steward told us that his daughter works in the council's Civic building where management were asking yesterday if admin staff would volunteer to pick up litter at the racecourse!
Near-complete council climbdown
At the mass meeting at 8am, Unison branch secretary Jim Board said that of the eight conditions that members regarded as red lines, management had conceded on 7½ of them. In effect, council Plan A was off the table.
It will come back with a Plan B but had agreed that it cannot include imposing new shift patterns or weekend working on existing staff; and no compulsory redundancies.
"Confidence is sky-high now" said Richard, a new union steward. "We've taken a kicking for the last five to six years and some have left the union. Now we can get them back.
"It's solidarity that's won it for us. All three unions united together - they took the Highways lads out of the scope (of the agreement) to try to divide us but they'd already balloted and said they'd stick with us on strike, hats off to them."
The council will come back with new proposals but it has to go through consultation again. That takes us up to Xmas and the New Year. Another good time to strike! If need be.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 4 September 2015 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.