Southampton workers upbeat

Submitted by Matthew on 15 June, 2011 - 12:58

Over one hundred refuse collectors are on a two-week long strike in Southampton, which will end on 22 June.

Street cleaners are on a one-week long strike, which started on 13 June. At the same time, traffic wardens have been refusing to collect parking fines — at a cost to the council of £100,000. 150 social workers are currently on a work to rule, and on the 13th, Itchen Bridge workers refused to collect tolls. Hospital cleaners from Southampton General, working for the contractor Medirest, were also striking.

Unite and Unison overlapped actions from the five groups to coincide on 13 June, when a big demonstration in support of striking workers was organised. The unions estimated that a thousand people attended the demo.

The strikes came in response to the Conservative Council’s proposed pay cuts. 4,300 employees received dismissal notices, telling them to accept new contracts with include pay cuts of up to 5.5%, or else be sacked on 11 July. Andy Straker of Unison said: “It really is appalling that in this day and age, a local authority can seek to intimidate a workforce out of their terms and conditions... this is what a Tory-leadership means — those who can least afford to, suffer most.”

Mike Tucker of Southampton Unison praised the “upbeat” nature of the demonstration, but warned that if talks with ACAS and the Council on Thursday 16 June failed to renegotiate the contracts, then Unison would “ballot for further strikes”.

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