Council workers fight pay cut scandal

Defend public services

TUC rally in Westminster against cuts in public spending, photo Paul Mattsson

TUC rally in Westminster against cuts in public spending, photo Paul Mattsson

COUNCIL WORKERS across the country are facing yet another onslaught of attacks on jobs, services, pay and conditions. Budget proposals are promoting a continuation of Blair’s ‘death by a thousand cuts’ policy for council services.

Onay Kasab, branch secretary Greenwich UNISON, personal capacity

Now, in a savage fresh onslaught, local councils are threatening to impose new contracts with less pay and inferior conditions.

This follows the single status ‘agreement’ recommended to trade union members and signed by the union leaders in 1997. Then, Socialist Party members in UNISON warned that without funding, the agreement would be used by the employers to attack pay and conditions.

Now the chickens have truly come home to roost. In council after council, workers are being told to accept pay cuts as no other choice exists.

TUC rally in Westminster against cuts in public spending, photo Paul Mattsson

TUC rally in Westminster against cuts in public spending, photo Paul Mattsson

But another choice does exist. Workers are prepared to fight back and are preparing to take the employers on.

In Greenwich, over 600 workers attended a packed UNISON meeting to hear about the proposals. These include pay cuts of up to £130 per week for some manual workers. Bonus payments, allowances, unsocial hours payments and overtime rates all face the chop.

The council says it no longer recognises nine to five, Monday to Friday working as normal. It now expects workers to work evenings and weekends with little or no compensation. It wants to introduce a nine-day fortnight and four-day week, as well as cuts to leave and car allowances.

Laughably the council claims the cut to car allowances is because of its commitment to the ‘green agenda’!

This ignores the fact that all councillors in Greenwich voted last year to award themselves free car parking passes. To paraphrase an old Martini ad, this allows them to park “any time, any place, any where”.

The hypocrisy does not stop there however. Low-paid school workers, who receive a ‘retainer’ payment, face losing six weeks pay when this is removed.

The chief executive meanwhile received a £13,000 pay rise last year, taking her wages up to £178,000 a year. The heads of finance and childrens’ services both received £20,000 pay rises, taking them up to £138,000.

In a move that emulates the city fat cats, these big earners are not shy in demanding cuts to council workers’ pay and conditions.

The mass meeting in Greenwich unanimously rejected the demands of these hypocrites and agreed a campaign of action.

Now the council, a Labour council, are threatening to conduct their own ballot of the workforce as part of a move to impose the proposals. In a startling demonstration of arrogance they have said that if the ballot does not go their way, they will impose new contracts regardless! So democracy is fine as long as you get your own way.

Workers in Greenwich have agreed to fight, as have workers across the country.

We also agreed that not a penny more should go from the unions to this vicious anti-working class, pro-big business Labour Party, which attacks public service workers day in, day out.

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