Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12531

Posted on 12 August 2011 at 17:08 GMT

Over 1,000 council workers, striking Medirest cleaners and others marched through Southampton on 13 June in a powerful show of solidarity against vicious council cuts and the scandalous consequence of the private sector in the NHS , photo Paul Mattsson

Over 1,000 council workers, striking Medirest cleaners and others marched through Southampton on 13 June in a powerful show of solidarity against vicious council cuts and the scandalous consequence of the private sector in the NHS , photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Massive vote to continue action against Southampton cuts

Nick Chaffey

At a packed meeting of over 600 union members on 10 August, Southampton council workers voted by four to one to continue their industrial action against pay cuts and imposed new contracts.

Enormous anger was fired at the Tories for their arrogant attitude. Tory council leader Royston Smith came in for particular attention.

Next week takes the unions past the twelve week statutory protection period for taking industrial action. Without this protection workers could face the sack for taking industrial action.

The Tories thought this would mean the end of the strike and said so publicly in the local paper before the meeting. But at every step of this fight they have misjudged the mood, determination and solidarity of striking council workers.

On the day of the meeting, hundreds of striking social care workers and managers formed a mass picket in front of the council building and received stormy support from tooting motorists all morning.

This is the real mood of council workers and the public in the city against the cuts.

Bin workers report continuing public support for their action and that is certainly the case on anti-cuts campaign stalls across the city. As pay slips arrive, the reality of what these cuts mean is biting hard and certainly fuelling the determination of the strikers.

But alongside the pay cuts, cuts to services is also a big factor amongst the striking social care workers. Fostering service workers were on strike for a week and are angry at what the cuts mean to them: "The workload is enormous, people are working at home to get it done.

"To make savings the council have introduced 'hot desking', so you have to queue to get on a computer.

Over 1,000 council workers, striking Medirest cleaners and others marched through Southampton on 13 June in a powerful show of solidarity against vicious council cuts and the scandalous consequence of the private sector in the NHS , photo Paul Mattsson

Southampton march on 13 June , photo Paul Mattsson

"The recession has placed extra burdens on families and inevitable break ups mean greater demand on the fostering service which only has one council care home left.

"So we have to go to the private sector at ten times the cost.

"The cuts have gone so far to things like cleaning that the admin staff had to buy their own toilet cleaner."

At a recent strike rally, a representative of Southampton foster carers spoke in support of the strike and in opposition to the cuts. Wednesday's mass meeting marks an important point in the dispute, council workers have shown they will not be intimidated by the Tory threats to sack people for taking strike action.

The council were clearly shocked at the vote and the strength of feeling to carry on.

In response Royston Smith sent a threatening email to all council workers stating: "I will look to get services back to normal by any means we can and are not ruling out any options."

At a mass meeting of striking Unite members on 12 August it was made clear that any disciplinary attacks on members would be met with an immediate ballot for further action.

A letter to this effect has been sent to the council. Further action is now being planned.

Selective action to date has been well supported, it is expected that other groups will come out to join the action but the best message to send to every union member and the council is, united we stand, united we strike.

A one-day council-wide strike needs to be built for and should be combined with the growing call for a national demonstration in the city. This will show the Tory council that they cannot intimidate workers with their bully boy tactics.

Criticism at the meeting on Wednesday was also levelled at the local Labour councillors by several speakers from the floor, for failing to back the strike and in proposing massive job cuts of their own.

This received strong applause. It raises the serious question of what the alternative is to Tory cuts and how the unions should campaign in elections next May.

If workers disgusted by the Labour Party position won't join it and can't find Labour candidates who will fight the cuts, the only alternative is to stand union-backed anti-cuts candidates.

With battles developing at other councils such as Shropshire and similar attacks announced at more councils like Portsmouth, the dispute in Southampton is of national importance.

Mass action can defeat this rotting coalition, it is vital the full force of the trade unions is mobilised against all cuts. The National Shop Stewards Network lobby on 11th September of the TUC Congress calling for co-ordinated national action becomes ever more important.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 12 August 2011 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






Related links:

Southampton:

triangleCouncils must use resources now for emergency response

triangleTrade unionists say "defend the right to strike!"

triangleDefend the right to strike! Southampton solidarity meeting

triangleLabour councils miss opportunity to stop Tory cuts

triangleSouthampton Socialist Party: General Election 2019 rally

Cuts:

triangleStrong union response needed against job cuts

triangleSafe protests against Tory corona chaos continue

triangleJohnson's plan terrifies me - readers react to lifting lockdown

triangleSafe social-distancing car-cavalcade protests

Council:

triangleHull Trades Council debates workers' political representation

triangleCrisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

triangleHomes needed to end overcrowding

Strike:

triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

triangleThe Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2

Council workers:

triangleEnd council cuts now, to end Tory austerity!

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

29/5/20

Labour

Lessons from the Corbyn experience

27/5/20

TUC

Covid crisis boosts union membership but TUC leaders want to cosy up to the bosses!

27/5/20

Coronavirus

Reckless, lying cheats

26/5/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus pandemic news in brief

26/5/20

Coronavirus

More blunders and profiteering in Tory track-and-trace scheme

26/5/20

Coronavirus

United action can defeat Tories' dangerous school plan

25/5/20

Coronavirus

Care home workers suffer PPE shortage and job loss fears

22/5/20

Coronavirus

Black and Asian Covid-19 deaths: an indictment of capitalist inequality

20/5/20

Coronavirus

Johnson's reckless 'back to school' plans threaten everyone's safety

20/5/20

Coronavirus

Confidence plummets in Tory strategy for Covid-19

20/5/20

Benefits

Universal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism

20/5/20

Covid

Furlough cut-off could force millions back to unsafe workplaces

20/5/20

Council

Crisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

20/5/20

Rich

Rich get handouts - workers get pay cuts

19/5/20

Coronavirus

Transport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999