Birmingham city council workers, including social workers and social care staff, took strike action on 21st September 2011 in protest at a cuts contract being imposed on November 1st. A new contract introduces savage pay cuts to some of the lowest paid workers and an ultra-flexible “any time, any place” clause which will help the council implement further cuts in the future by amalgamating and deleting posts. There were militant mass pickets at many workplaces and following this workers protested outside the Lib Dem conference. This lobby was well publicised and featured on national TV news on the day of Nick Clegg’s keynote speech. There will be further lobbying at the October, November and December council meetings.
Key to the success of this dispute will be getting workplaces organised and the UNISON branch is launching a campaign of workplace meetings and encouraging members and stewards to organise their own lobbies of local councillors. In November a Birmingham Petition will be launched and following this a pledge, asking councillors to support re-negotiation of the contract if elected.
The one-day action follows a similar strike on 30th June which was coordinated with teachers, lecturers and civil service workers. The next day of strike action will take place at the same time as the November 30th national pensions strike alongside 17 national trade unions. SWAN is asking its members to write to their councillors asking their support and to join the lobbies of the council.