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Southampton city council workers strike
"No ifs, no buts, you can stick your Tory cuts", "Cut my pay, no way" were the angry chants of Southampton refuse workers out on strike against savage cuts to pay.
It is clear that there is overwhelming support for the strike action as council workers struggle after a three-year pay freeze to cope with a 5% cut in pay.
"We have members claiming tax credits as wages are so low. Some here are going to lose £900.
"How are we going to pay our bills?"
Southampton Tory council has hit the headlines with its vicious package of job cuts and imposed changes to pay. If council workers fail to sign new contracts they will be sacked in July.
Members of the unions Unison and Unite have voted in favour of strike action with selective strike action beginning today (23rd May) and a city-wide work-to-rule and overtime ban.
Refuse workers are out this week with other sections striking in future weeks.
Undoubtedly anger is fuelled by the chasm that separates the vast majority of council workers and the top council bosses on six figure salaries of over £200,000.
The mood on the picket line today was very determined. Unison and Unite members from Portsmouth joined the mass picket.
Workers know how much is at stake. "If they get away with this, they'll be back next year for more.
Their plan is to privatise these services and to have us on the cheap". We need to see everyone out at the council, all together, was the view of many, as well as support for national action.
It is clear that other councils are watching Southampton. If they get away with it here they will feel more confident to carry out attacks everywhere.
Elsewhere in Southampton Medirest workers are continuing their fight for unpaid wages. Recently university and college workers in UCU went out on strike over pensions.
Teachers in the NUT are reporting overwhelming support for their ballot.
Southampton Socialist Party has produced a leaflet in support of the strike which was well received on the picket line. This strike has strong support locally as people begin to realise what the cuts really mean and they are seeing their own jobs and pay under attack.
Our leaflet opposes all cuts in jobs, pay and services, highlights the £15 million reserves the council has, that could prevent immediate cuts, calls for a city-wide demo to build support for council-wide strike action and calls for a 24-hour national general strike.
The lie that there isn't any money to pay for public services is losing its grip as more and more workers realise these cuts are to make the rich richer.
What hypocrisy it is that bankers' contracts are honoured, who then get taxpayer funded billion pound bonuses while council workers see their contracts shredded and jobs and pay butchered.
Nick Chaffey, Southampton Socialist Party
Donations to the strike funds can be paid in at:
1)The UNISON Southampton District branch office, Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7NB. Please enclose a note to say it's for the strike fund.
2) UNITE account:
c/o Ian Woodland, Unite House, 15/16 The Avenue, Southampton SO17 1XF.
TGWU 2/8 Strike Fund
Unity Trust Bank A/c ; 20185358
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This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 2011-05-23 17:14:51 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.