Hull youth workers save jobs
YOUTH WORKERS in Hull are celebrating after taking on hypocritical, incompetent management and winning a battle for their jobs.
Rob Rooney, Hull Socialist Party
Hull city council’s slogan: “Hull – a family-friendly city where no child is left behind” looked sick last September, when 22 youth workers were told they were no longer needed.
These highly qualified, highly motivated people work with – and gain notable successes with – those at the top of the government’s so-called “Respect” agenda: school non-attenders, drug users and young offenders.
But when the funding on their short-term contracts ran out, they (and the people they work with) were deemed surplus to requirements. It seemed a simple administrative matter to their bosses to get rid of them.
The managers reckoned without the workers’ fighting spirit, fuelled by a sense of massive injustice and the guidance of three Unison shop stewards, two of them Socialist Party members.
An energetic campaign started, demanding that Hull city council should take on these workers, instead of their being at the mercy of short-term, unstable funding.
Council meetings and councillors’ surgeries were lobbied. Appeals for support went out to everybody who benefited from the workers’ projects. Every house in council leader Carl Minns’ ward was leafleted. At every opportunity it was pointed out that, compared with 192 top council bosses sharing a £5.2 million pay rise last year, the £750,000 a year cost of taking on these workers was minimal.
Weekly meetings were held, where the workers discussed progress and tactics with their shop stewards. A hard core of around six kept attending, kept fighting, kept believing and Unison recruited many of the 22.
The first sign our pressure was having an effect came on 7 January. Councillor Minns met the workers and told them: “You have been let down by your managers… this should never have been allowed to happen.” Two weeks later he was back with the good news: all 22 jobs saved and the workers to be taken “in-house” – total victory.
It’s a small step when there are constant attempts at cuts and privatisation. But it shows what solidarity and a fighting attitude can do!