Birmingham home carers on strike, 9.10.18

Birmingham home carers on strike, 9.10.18   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Birmingham Socialist Party

At a mass members’ meeting on 5 October, Birmingham Council home carers unanimously voted by show of hands to reject the council’s ‘final’ offer and continue striking.

To accept the offer would have meant part-time-only hours, resulting in staff losing between £5,000 and £11,000 a year. The members of public service union Unison took another full day of strike action on 9 October, making over 30 days of strike in total.

Workers on the picket lines outside council offices said they see this as a management tactic to cut costs by forcing workers out. The Blairite council has cut the service by 48% in the last year through voluntary redundancies, despite claiming it only ‘needed’ a 40% cut.

This is a vital service. It plays a crucial role in promoting clients’ independence at home. It also supports their transition from hospital, freeing up badly needed hospital beds.

Home carers began their strike day by leafleting the bin workers’ depots at five in the morning! Only last year the bin workers won their strike against the council against similar attacks. Messages of support were shared between both sets of workers.

The strikers received nothing but support from their colleagues in other council jobs. No job under Birmingham’s Labour council is safe.

Birmingham Socialist Party demands the council stop all attacks on the workforce immediately. Instead it should build on the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity manifesto.

Labour councillors should draw up a balanced no-cuts budget using reserves and prudential borrowing powers – and, at the same time, launch a citywide campaign to return the money stolen from Birmingham by central government.

Reselection proceedings should immediately be commenced against any Labour councillor who continues to vote for cuts and privatisation.

The Tories are weak and divided. If Birmingham Council truly wished to represent workers and residents rather than the interests of big business, it would be fighting central government rather than its own workers!