Birmingham: Thousands on strike against pay cuts

More than 20,000 Birmingham Council workers were on 24-hour strike on 5 February 2008 over a new pay and grading system and employment contract which will see many lose basic pay. The council want to impose the new system at the end of March.

Clive Walder, Birmingham Socialist Party

Schools, museums, libraries, leisure centres and council offices were closed, some with 80-strong picket lines mounted from 6am.

Over 3,000 came into the city centre for a lunchtime rally and lobby of the council – a significant increase from previous protests.

About 14 per cent of the 40,000 workers affected stand to lose money, many of them thousands of pounds a year, some up to £18,000.

Many who are receiving increases are not going to get the genuine equal pay they have been fighting for. Also the council is imposing performance-related pay, seven-day working and ‘job flexibility’.

The council offered refuse collectors an extra £8,000 a year if they didn’t strike but that would still leave them £2,000 a year worse off. The council were clearly worried about the political effects of rubbish piling up in the streets and a united strike of council workers.

This is a major dispute that deserves the backing of all trade unionists and has national significance in the battle for equal pay nationally.

  • Messages of support can be sent to the Birmingham Joint Unions c/o UNISON Birmingham Branch, 3rd Floor, Albany House, Hurst Street, Birmingham B5 4BD Fax: 0121 631 1332.