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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 September 2011

Southampton council workers vote for more action

Nick Chaffey

"The bin workers have led the way, it's time we did some of it!", was the conclusion of the 100 care workers who turned out to discuss the dispute over pay cuts and job losses at Southampton city council.

The meeting provided debate and discussion on where next for the dispute, especially on the threat made by Tory councillors that council workers could face the sack for taking industrial action as the dispute passed the twelve week period of statutory protection.

Branch officers explained that the council would be unlikely to risk losing hundreds of careworkers. Mass sackings would also escalate the dispute further. When it was put to the vote, care workers voted nine to one in favour of a further strike on 6 October.

Mass meeting

Two days later, a mass meeting of the bin workers voted overwhelmingly by a show of hands to support the care workers' strike. This will now be put to a ballot.

Southampton council workers are showing tremendous resolve to sustain a work-to-rule and further strike action.

Tory councillors have fuelled the fire when they voted to increase councillors' pay against the recommendation of the remuneration committee that chastised councillors for taking pay for a 35-hour week but in many cases only doing 25 hours!

Unite Steward John Earley said: "If the council had been prepared to negotiate from the start they wouldn't be in this mess. They say we're all in this together but while councillors get a pay rise for doing less we get a pay cut."

Labour councillors, while opposing the rise, failed in their duty to contribute their increase to the strike fund but have offered to donate their money to charity! New Labour have circulated a new leaflet stating their opposition to the strikes.

The Socialist Party continues to give full support to the fight against pay cuts and job losses and has supported calls from council workers for a council-wide strike to escalate the pressure on the council and force a retreat.

The council has 17 million in reserves, so the pay cuts are unnecessary and it was recently exposed that the Tories have borrowed a massive 78 million since 2008 - the same money they are now attempting to cut from the budget.

The biggest cut that needs to happen in Southampton is the removal of the Tory council. But if Labour maintain their attack on the unions and pledge cuts of their own it is essential that council unions stand anti-cuts candidates to put real fighters on the council.

As the movement to stop the cuts grows and the preparation is made for 30 November national strikes, the potential exists to inflict a major defeat on Southampton Tories and show workers nationally what is possible.

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In The Socialist 21 September 2011:

Building for 30 November strike

We won't pay for the bankers' crisis!

30 November - the fight of all our lives

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