Local Councils

“Cityclean is a powder keg”

A shop steward from Brighton bins tells us about their victory in their recent dispute. Firstly, congratulations on winning the dispute, I wouldn’t have expected anything less! Haha, yeah, it’s a brilliant outcome, to come out of a dispute with something even better than what we were demanding in the first place is just brilliant, but it shows you our strength. So can you tell me a bit about the deal? What does it mean for the workforce? So as you know, the dispute was about round changes, changes to working patterns at very short notice and without explanation, about management unilaterally...

Local government and health pay: build the campaigns!

Members of GMB and Unite have voted to reject the local government pay offer, with similar percentages to Unison members, who voted by 79% to reject a 1.75% pay increase (2.75% for those on pay point 1). Ballot papers are scheduled to go out to Unison members in early December, asking whether they want to strike to secure an improved pay offer. The union will be asking members to vote yes. Meanwhile, the Joint Trade Union Side have written to the Employers’ Side, asking them to return to the negotiations and make an improved pay offer. Since 2010 the value of local government pay has fallen by...

Brighton bin workers win a deal

Update: Brighton council refuse workers voted on 18 October to accept a deal in their pay and conditions dispute. See here. A GMB organiser spoke to us on 14 October about the strike by refuse workers in Brighton, who have a long history of standing up for their rights. • Visit picket lines early mornings at Hollingdean Depot, Upper Hollingdean Road, Brighton BN1 7GA. Pickets on Friday 15 October, then off for three days, back on morning Tuesday 19 October. • Donations to GMB Brighton branch, account 42004718, sort code 60-83-01. • Messages of solidarity to mark.turner@brighton-hove.gov.uk. •...

Open the door for Afghan refugees!

Imagine fleeing a blood- soaked, misogynistic, racist dictatorship, being promised a new life in a safe country — and then having those who promised it lock you up, deny you basic rights and refuse to tell you what happens next. That is what is happening to the Afghan refugees “welcomed” by the UK. The name of the government’s resettlement programme, “Operation Warm Welcome”, is a sick joke.The Guardian reports that conditions for the refugees are so bad that many have started saying they want to go back. 7,000 Afghan refugees are stuck in hotels, with Home Office officials saying they may be...

Croydon goes for mayor-power

In a referendum on 7 October, residents in Croydon voted overwhelmingly to follow Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Watford and replace the “leader in cabinet” model of local government with a directly elected mayor, to be elected in 2022. The referendum was put after spending and housing scandals, created by years of Conservative local government cuts, engulfed the council. Democ (the campaign for a democratically elected mayor of Croydon) presented a petition of 20,000 signatures to the council leader calling for the system to be changed. Though the referendum was initially supported by both Labour...

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

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...

Council pay: campaign for strikes

Unison members in local government have voted by 79% to reject a 1.75% pay offer. On 1 October the union’s Local Government Committee voted to ballot members on industrial action. Members will start to receive ballot papers in November or early December. The National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Government Services (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) covers the largest group of employees for collective bargaining purposes in the UK economy. Over 1.4 million workers have their pay and conditions determined within the national framework negotiated in the NJC. The claim submitted by the unions...

Social care: tax the rich!

Social care needs a transformation comparable to the transformation of UK healthcare seven decades ago through the NHS. It seems likely such a policy, for a public care and support system, would be popular, if strong enough voices argued for it. At the moment the forces campaigning for anything like it are weak, but the issue is centre-stage as never before. When the Tories produced their “plan for social care” — taxing workers more to produce extra money for the NHS and a much smaller amount for care services (later) — the Labour Party embarrassed itself by its lack of alternative ideas. Now...

Poplar rates rebellion centenary: ten lessons for today

It is the centenary year of the Poplar council rates rebellion, an inspiring victory in London’s east end rich with lessons for today. At the time the rebellion took place, just after the first world war, the London Borough of Poplar comprised the dockland area in the big bend in the River Thames (Poplar) and an area of similar size to its north (Bow). A quarter of its people lived in (official) poverty, 83 of every thousand of its babies died, and over thirty thousand people lived in overcrowded housing. It had a tradition of working-class organisation and action. The east end was the centre...

"This is about the kind of world we want to live in"

Ali Treacher is a care worker, Unite the Union activist and workplace rep, and Secretary of the Care and Support Workers Organise! network (CaSWO!) She is also a supporter of Anti-Capitalist Resistance. She spoke to us about care workers' fight. CaSWO! has been meeting throughout the last year, since the start of the pandemic, after a Unison-organised call which brought together care workers around issues like workplace health and safety and PPE. The initial focus was basically offering each other solidarity and advice and sharing information. Government guidelines were so vague that we had to...

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