Make Labour councils back Royal Parks workers (John Moloney's column)

Submitted by AWL on 12 October, 2021 - 4:05 Author: John Moloney
Royal Parks strikers

Royal Parks workers’ month-long strike is continuing. There’s no new offer from the outsourced contractor yet; we think they are talking to Royal Parks, to see how much license they’ll be given to resolve the dispute. The contractor says any changes to staffing levels that result from the restructure we’re opposing will be “minimal”, but that could mean almost anything. Until we get something firm then the dispute will continue.

We want to increase the pressure on Royal Parks centrally. We’re writing directly to the Board of Trustees, which includes two leaders of Labour councils, Camden and Greenwich. They haven’t responded to our letters yet. Labour’s own policy is to end outsourcing; here’s a chance for two influential Labour politicians to do something about the inequality faced by outsourced workers.

Donations to the strike fund will continue to be vital. This is a low-paid group of workers who are striking for an entire month. The labour movement needs to rally round and ensure they aren’t starved back to work. We want to ensure that strike pay is as close as possible to their full wages as possible. There is sometimes a view in the labour movement that it’s wrong to pay strike pay, because striking should be “a sacrifice”. Often prolonged strikes do involve considerable sacrifice, but fundamentally the aim of a strike is to win, not simply to make a noble gesture. If we can ensure workers can afford to take sustained action by paying strike pay, then we will.

Our members at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea will re-ballot for industrial action from 12 October to 10 November. We won’t rely on electronic communication, the aim is to speak to every member individually. It’s difficult to hold physical meetings in the workplace, but we do want an active and visible presence. We don’t want to squeak over the line, we want significantly more than 50% turnout.

On 18-19 October, driving examiners will strike against the plan to increased the number of tests taken per day. We want as many picket lines as possible, even if it’s only a small number of examiners at each testing centre. It’s important the strike isn’t a token protest, or a stay-at-home day, but a collective expression of workers’ power.

• John Moloney (writing here in a personal capacity) is assistant general secretary of the civil service workers’ union PCS

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