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Workplace news in brief
30 November strike
Unite members are now being balloted for strike action on 30 November. They will be joining one of the biggest strikes in modern British history.
On 25 October, Unite went to the High Court with five other public sector unions with a judicial review challenging the government's 15% cut in existing public sector pensions. This is because of their decision to move from using the Retail Price Index to the lower Consumer Price Index when calculating the annual increase in pension rates.
As we go to press, a new pay offer has been made by Southampton city council. Following the latest strike of Southampton council workers, talks with the council have produced an offer which will be put to a ballot of Unison and Unite members. A mass meeting has been organised to discuss the latest proposal. In the meantime strike action has been suspended.
Southampton council workers have shown tremendous determination to sustain a prolonged battle to defend their contracts. It has served notice on Southampton councillors, Tory, Lib Dem and New Labour, as well as all local authorities around the country about what they can expect if attacks are made on pay, terms and conditions.
Enormous anger remains at the savage cuts to pay and the prospects of massive job cuts in the next council budget. It remains to be seen whether this latest concession will be sufficient to settle the dispute.
As national strike action looms on pensions, this could be a significant opportunity to intensify the pressure on the council and give confidence to all Southampton council workers that these pay cuts can be defeated.
Nick Chaffey, Southampton Socialist Party
Workers at Coventry City Council lobbied councillors on 18 October to demand a £250 payment that had been promised to all public sector employees earning under £21,000. The council have budgeted for this increase, but are refusing to pay.
Unions have collected hundreds of signatures demanding the council pays its staff. Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist presented the petition.
The response from other councillors was disgraceful. When quizzed by council workers, the majority of our public representatives claimed they had no idea what we were talking about.
Unions now need to continue the campaign for the £250 payment - continued lobbying of councillors, linking up with the wider public and trade union movement to pile the pressure on. There should also be discussion about how this links in to the fight for decent pay, pensions and the defence of jobs.
A Unison member
In The Socialist 26 October 2011:
Events on 5 + 6 November
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature