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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 March 2019

Victory for Birmingham bin workers

Meeting discusses fight to win other disputes and save services in the city

Birmingham bin workers and home carers strike together, photo Birmingham Socialist Party, photo Birmingham Socialist Party

Birmingham bin workers and home carers strike together, photo Birmingham Socialist Party, photo Birmingham Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Birmingham Socialist Party

The long-running Birmingham bins dispute, concerning "secret payments" and the "blacklisting" of workers, has ended after Birmingham city council today approved the agreement on 15 March that has ended the dispute.

The bin workers accepted a pay deal of 3,500 to each member over blacklisting payments made to non-strikers in the 2017 dispute.

They reported on their victory at the Birmingham National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) rally 'Defend workers from council attacks' on 12 March where they were also joined by striking home carers in the city.

In all, 100 trade unionists and activists met to listen and discuss current local disputes as well as put forward demands, tactics and ideas on how to build a trade union movement against cuts to jobs, terms and conditions as well as saving public services.

The floor heard inspirational fighting speeches from Unite union convenor and bin striker Dean Smith, Unison local government union senior shop steward and home care striker Mandy Buckley, Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett and NSSN chair Rob Williams, to name a few.

Home carers dispute

While the bin workers have won, Birmingham's Labour council has yet to settle the 18-month-old home carers dispute over changes to working hours.

Activists at the meeting highlighted how the home care strike is relatively hidden compared to the very public bin strike. They explained it shows the council's complete lack of regard for a service which assists vulnerable people.

Suggestions were made that, in order to ensure the home care strike is victorious, Unison and Unite need to lead an all-out council strike against the deplorable Labour council attacks - and to defend jobs and public services.

If the home carers get more muscle on their side and link their struggle with others this will give them a much better chance at saving their jobs completely, without any compromises with the bosses.

Additionally, putting forward demands on councillors to set a no-cuts budget and to only take an average worker's wage will be steps forward to a genuine council fightback against the Tory austerity agenda.

Council cuts

Furthermore, Birmingham Council has voted to cut another 1,000-plus jobs! Cuts which could potentially be made to the bin and home care services and elsewhere.

What was agreed by the meeting is that, while the bin workers have won their battle and the home carers are still in theirs, Birmingham Council is set on waging a war on its workers and residents - making them face the brutal reality of the effects of these cuts.

With people literally dying on Birmingham's streets, council workers and their trade unions need to go on the offensive now more than ever. Bin and home care workers can lead the way forward with this fight and inspire their co-workers within the council to join them on the picket line!

This regional NSSN meeting provided the ideas and tools to develop further coordination between the unions and workers to defend their jobs - and hopefully can be the first meeting of many in bringing about action to save Birmingham services!

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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.
  • 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.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 20 March 2019:


What we think

May's government facing endgame


News

End austerity. Fight for a living wage!

New Zealand mosque terror atrocity

Top unis threaten cuts if tuition fees

Cash-strapped schools now 'fourth emergency service'


Climate walkouts

Youth strikes show the way - mass action can oust Tories

Massive protests over catastrophic climate change


Workplace news

Victory for Birmingham bin workers

PCS civil servants' union: Vote Yes to strike for better pay

Midlands machine bearing makers launch all-out strike

Hackney school bus workers walk out


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Socialist Party's Sue Atkins wins big support for anti-cuts, socialist policies

Union fightback key to movement against racism and austerity

Trade unionists debate the EU

Socialist Party Northern conference: Workers are sick of cuts and have the power to fight back

Stop cuts to women's services in Leicester

Help build the workers' press: send May Day greetings to the Socialist!


International socialist news and analysis

Spanish state: Historic 8 March action


Opinion

Exhibition: Don McCullin - a life in pictures

The Socialist Inbox

Theatre: Banner Theatre's Nottingham 'Free for All'


 

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