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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 February 2020

Newham council tax workers' pay victory

Newham Council offices, photo See_From_Here/CC

Newham Council offices, photo See_From_Here/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Unite the Union member

Unite members working as council tax benefit managers for Newham's Labour council in east London have won a pay and grading claim after giving the employer notice of strike action to commence.

The workers had seen their pay cut following the implementation of 'single status' - a national agreement signed by local government trade unions back in 1997 which allow local councils to attack pay and conditions. The Socialist Party correctly warned at the time that without funding from national government, local councils would pay for equal pay by simply robbing other sections of the council workforce, which is exactly what has happened since.

In Newham, the Unite branch is now using industrial action to win grading claims, rather than only relying on the job evaluation process.

Industrial action

This is now the third grading campaign success for the union branch, which is sending a clear message that they will not simply walk away when the employer refuses to act fairly. Instead, the members will be given the option of industrial action. The result has been a backdated increase in the grade along with a significant lump sum to settle the dispute.

This follows the strike victory at Hackney passenger services, which was also linked to single status. There, enhancements for working split shifts had previously been taken away as part of local implementation of the single status agreement.

Both campaigns show the way forward. It is possible to reverse previous losses but only by being prepared to take strike action. The task now for the unions is to raise the demand in council after council and to link these up as part of a co-ordinated national campaign.

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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.
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In The Socialist 5 February 2020:


News

6.5 million working poor: Fight to end low pay

Labour leadership contest and public ownership

Coronavirus exposes capitalism's weaknesses in healthcare and economy

Record dissatisfaction with democracy: capitalism's dead end

Refuges turn away 64% of women - set no-cuts budgets now!

Grenfell watch: Unions challenge 'mockery of justice'

Them & Us


Rail

Nationalise the railways: For an integrated public transport system

Expensive, overcrowded and unreliable: Renationalise the railways!

Cancel the franchise, not our trains

Will the North get investment and transport infrastructure?


What we think

'Post-Brexit' era of crisis ahead


Workplace news

Huge victory for Bromley library workers after 241 days on indefinite strike!

14 more days of university strikes over pensions, pay and conditions

500 BBC journalists' jobs under threat

Newham council tax workers' pay victory

No to academisation of east London schools!

Ealing tax office workers strike against closure


NHS

Outrageous waiting times will put lives at risk

NHS: Save stroke beds in Coventry and Warwickshire


International

Syria: Assad regime consolidates power after brutal counterrevolution

Israel/Palestine: Trump 'peace plan' promises further conflict


Campaigns

Socialist Party calls anti-austerity protest on Budget Day

Sadiq Khan "out-Tories" himself to defend tech firms' tax bonanza

Socialist Sellers

Reading Labour council: Stop privatising our leisure services

The rich fund the Tories and Blairites, so help fund the working-class fightback

Support the working-class press in 2020

Defend and fight for warm, safe housing for Samira and everyone

Alternative Burns Night success


Readers' opinion

Liverpool council: "No more cuts" - Is Joe Anderson serious?

Socialist Inbox


 

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