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Liverpool council workers ballot for action
LIVERPOOL SOCIAL workers, members of UNISON, have been on strike for three months now. Their employer has taken a hard line with the social workers and is now making threats to the general branch membership.
The council has told the branch that it wants to pull out of the national scheme of conditions of service.
It would be unprecedented if an authority the size of Liverpool decided to go in that direction. It would threaten the remainder of the national agreement because it would encourage other councils to do the same.
The UNISON branch committee went to the membership on 22 November.
On the issue of the social workers' dispute and in the light of the threats to the membership generally, they recommended a ballot for industrial action, up to and including strike action.
Roger Bannister, from UNISON's national executive, was invited to speak at the two members' meetings. These meetings were well-attended by hundreds of council staff.
Roger explained the seriousness of what the branch was facing. If the employers pulled out of the national agreement it would mean their pay and conditions of service would gradually fall behind the rest of local government.
This has already happened to groups of workers who have been removed from the national scheme, like Connexions workers and further education staff. He argued that the authority was being very aggressive and would only respond to a show of unity and determination by the workforce.
The council had be shown that the workers were not a pushover, that they wouldn't let the social workers be kicked to death on their own in the corner. And that the branch is prepared to stand up and fight to defend its place within the national agreement.
That got a good response and all the speakers from the floor supported the branch committee's position.
Socialist Party member Raph Parkinson chaired the meetings. The votes were overwhelmingly in favour of the branch committee's recommendation to ballot for industrial action.
There was no doubt in people's minds that they had to stand and fight.
Roger Bannister is seeking nominations from branches to stand in the forthcoming UNISON general secretary election.
Every socialist in UNISON should try to get their branch to nominate Roger. Roger is a member of Knowsley branch, membership number: 1318436
In The Socialist 27 November 2004:
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party campaigns