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Workers' anger over council cuts
Greenwich: "We've got to strike"
OVER 100 people, mainly blue-collar workers, lobbied Greenwich council's meeting on 28 March, booing the councillors who were trying to cut their wages drastically. The air was filled with shouts of 'low pay, no way' and 'fight back'.
Greenwich UNISON branch secretary Onay Kasab ('Kas') told the crowd that one councillor had said she only cared about 'lower-paid women workers'. When Kas mentioned the effect of some of these proposals on low-paid women, she defined 'low pay' as earnings of £3,000 a year - or less!
A worker for Cleansweep, Greenwich's cleaning and environmental services, said: "I'm clearing £240 a week which includes a £50 bonus. I'm not sure how much of that they're taking away from us. They're telling people to come in on Saturdays and Sundays to make up for the lost cash."
Even skilled workers have seen big wage reductions. A council roofer for 30 years told us that after the council policy changed to doing complete refurnishing instead of roofing, "I went from £32,000 to £24,000 the last two years. How many people could take an £8,000 cut? If I retired now or had an accident, I'd retire on the basis of £24,000.
"Now they're talking about an even bigger cut for workers doing overtime, cutting some incomes in half. Some people will lose their mortgages. They told me I could pay more into my pension, from a lower income! Those councillors are going in there to cut us but they're getting a rise. Labour's not for working people now."
Greenwich council worker Mick Redmond said. "If we lose all our bonus, we lose £135 a week. The council say they don't want anyone to lose any money but they've not had one positive proposal on what they're going to give us in other payments.
"We're all likely to lose £60 or £70 a week. That's £3,000 a year. They tell us to work weekends and extra hours in the summer but that's no good for people with families. If it comes to it, we've got to go on strike and stay out until this is resolved."
Socialist Party public meeting
Single status - not a penny from our pay, nor an hour on our day!
Speaker: Onay Kasab, branch secretary Greenwich UNISON (personal capacity).
Tuesday 10 April, 7.30pm.
Venue: Glyndon Community Centre, Raglan Road, Plumstead, SE18.
In The Socialist 4 April 2007:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reviews
PCS takes industrial action
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Workplace news and analysis