Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1031/28770
Birmingham Bin workers and home carers strike on same day
Birmingham Socialist Party
A sea of orange and purple was what passers-by saw on the morning of 22 February as they drove past Perry Barr bin depot in Birmingham.
Council-employed bin workers and home carers held a day of joint action on the bin depot picket lines across the city.
The disputes originate from different issues - the home carers oppose changes to contracted hours and the bin workers are fighting against blacklisting. But both are attacks by Birmingham Labour council.
The workers' mood is high and determined for victory. The home carers are 18 months into their dispute.
The bin workers are taking their second stint of strike action in less than two years. But this was the first time the workers were able to join their collective strength together.
The Blairite council defends its mishandling of the 2017 bin dispute - where workers that did not take part in the strike were paid a lump sum of money.
This has been described as a form of 'blacklisting' against Unite the Union members who were on strike.
22 February saw bin workers in public sector union Unison strike for the first time too.
Birmingham Socialist Party visited all four depot pickets and handed out bulletin no. 17 - written by local Socialist Party members. Strikers also bought copies of the Socialist.
Many bin workers think the leading Birmingham Labour councillors would be well suited to join breakaway MPs in the pro-austerity, anti-union Independent Group. Most support mandatory reselection and a workers' wage for MPs and councillors.
The council hopes to wear strikers down, using Tory anti-union laws to break the bin strike and endless Acas negotiations with the home carers.
If the council concedes to the strikers it will inspire workers in other departments in the council to take a stand. The home carers were inspired by the 2017 bin strike victory.
If Labour councillors are not prepared to stand up for the working class, then they should stand down. If they won't go willingly, they should face deselection as Labour candidates.
They should be replaced with real working-class fighters, drawn from across the trade union and socialist movement - fighters prepared to support a no-cuts budget and end all attacks on workers' rights.
The Socialist Party says:
- Continue the joint strikes and pickets by bin and home care workers
- Unite and Unison should build a mass campaign towards further coordinated action across the council workforce in support of the home care and bin workers and against the attacks taking place across every inch of the council
- Mass union members' meetings should be called in every department of the council to discuss and build support
- Unions should call protest lobbies of council meetings and councillors' surgeries
- Unite and Unison should call a joint national demo in defence of the action taken by council workers
In The Socialist 16 November 2018:
What we think
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns