Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/514/3574
The Socialist 13 December 2007 |
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Birmingham city council
Workers boo 'lead balloon' councillors
"WE'VE GOT a grudge with councillor Rudge," was one of the slogans displayed on placards by several hundred angry Birmingham city council workers. They protested against the council's attempts to impose a 'single status' pay deal that threatens huge pay cuts (in some cases as much as £18,000 a year). Rudge is the Tory 'cabinet minister' for Human Resources and 'Equal Opportunities'
In the Tories' and New Labour's Orwellian world a single status pay deal, supposed to deliver equal pay for men and women, can only be delivered by cutting thousands of women workers' pay.
Even those who gain on pay will lose on other allowances such as shift pay, weekend allowances and bonuses. Management will also try to cut holidays and extend working hours. The new pay structure is based on a private-sector model which would make council services more attractive to privateers.
Labour councillor Ian Ward opposed the Tory/LibDem attacks on pay, rightly accusing the LibDems of propping up Tory attacks.
He gave support to any industrial action the workers take but fell short of demanding the money from central government to fund single status in full with no pay cuts.
That was left to Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob who said that Gordon Brown could find money to bail out the dodgy bankers at Northern Rock but not to fund equal pay for council workers.
Much of the speech by John Hemming, Lib Dem MP for Birmingham Yardley (and still a city councillor!) was drowned out by boos and shouts of 'opportunist' and 'Tory' from workers. He said 'mistakes' had been made. This went down like a lead balloon with council workers.
Every time anyone mentioned 'strike' or 'industrial action', there was a huge round of applause.
An industrial action ballot seems inevitable and this could be one of the most important local disputes in many years. The Socialist Party's special Council Workers Bulletin was well received.