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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 August 2009

Liverpool street cleaners and bin workers strike against fat-cats

On 11 August, street cleaners and refuse collectors employed by Enterprise-Liverpool are striking over pensions and bonus pay. What has incensed the workforce has been the employer's unwillingness to process applications from new starters to join the company pension scheme.

In response the unions are now demanding that the local government pension scheme be opened up to the whole workforce and not just those that were TUPE transferred from Liverpool council.

Workers there also feel vulnerable that 40% of their pay is made up of bonuses which can be taken away at any time, so they are demanding consolidation of all pay. Of course Enterprise-Liverpool cried poverty and said the demands are unaffordable, but the parent company Enterprise PLC, announced 74 million profits last year.

The refuse collectors, who until November last year were employed by Violia, are looking to build on their successful campaign for pay parity with street cleaners. This resulted in pay rises of between 12% and 15%. They know that their combined action will have council leaders running scared.

However, Enterprise has said they intend to take a stand and that they have the backing of the Lib-Dem-led council. They have also threatened to use sub-contractors to do the work. But the planned action by Unite and GMB unions is for daily, indefinite one hour strikes on all shifts to cause maximum disruption but at a cost of only five hours pay per week to each worker.

The Unite convener Peter Lawler believes that the timing of the one hour stoppages will result in up to three hours less productivity so the cost of bringing in a sub-contractor will be prohibitive. If Enterprise don't get the work done then this will incur penalties and if Liverpool city council attempt to support the company by not charging them penalties, then Ian Lowes from the GMB said he will complain to the district auditor.

  • STOP PRESS the strike has been postponed until the end of August, after negotiations on 10 August.
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