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Strike Shuts Down Hackney
OVER 5,000 Hackney council workers walked out on a 24-hour strike on 20 December. At least 23 schools closed down due to action from UNISON and GMB union members.
All building works and street cleaning stopped as did Social Services offices, administration and benefit offices. The Mayor's chauffeur and mace-carrier were on strike for the evening's council meeting!
In a lively rally outside Hackney Town Hall BRIAN DEBUS, Hackney UNISON branch chair and Socialist Party member, said that council managing director Max Caller wanted council workers to take a salary cut but he hadn't offered to cut his own £150,000 a year salary.
Brian said the workers' strike had to be linked in with a struggle by the local community to defend services. This wasn't the end of the council workers' struggle just the beginning.
The NUT rep from Haggerston school said there had been 62 on a picket line at that school and no-one had crossed it. She said that Nord Anglia, a company that had been found guilty of racist employment practises, was making £1.2 million from mis-running Hackney's schools.
JUDE RITCHIE, UNISON steward at De Beauvoir school, warned that Hackney council planned to increase council tax by at least £84 a year - a 10% rise. Interest repayments accounted for £420 for every household in Hackney out of their council tax.
Jude asked the rally: "Are we prepared to go out on strike again in January?" He received a resounding "Yes".
CHRIS NEWBY, a Hackney tenant and Socialist Party member said that not one councillor had signed a letter sent out by Hackney UNISON opposing cuts and redundancies.
Chris said: "The whole shabby bunch of councillors should be driven out and replaced by community candidates." This could be done by a strong united campaign of workers and community.
In The Socialist 5 January 2001:
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