CPGB-ML and Red Youth activists joined bin men on picket lines across Birmingham today as Unite members walked out over pay and Labour Council cuts to services. Perry Barr tip, Lifford Lane, Tyseley and Digbeth were all out on strike, with only a handful of scabs crossing pickets. We reproduce below links from local media and todays article from the Birmingham Worker.
The Birmingham Worker:
“Defend the bin men!
Oppose Labour council cuts
Birmingham City Council was once the single biggest local authority in Europe, but a workforce of 20,000 has been slashed in half and the plans which are being implemented by Labour Councillors this year seek to reduce this number to 7,000 by 2018. They blame it on the Tories but they ALL play the same game, it’s called capitalism, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That’s why Chief Exec Stella Manzie earns £180,000pa whilst the bin men are to lose £4,000-6,000 a year and see 122 jobs axed.
The City Council is in a deep economic crisis, the result of both cuts from central government and their own mismanagement which has cost £11.9m. The Chief Executive and Council leaders are seeking to heap the burden of this crisis onto the backs of workers whilst plundering services provided for Birmingham’s rate payers, including those essentials which keep our streets clean and free of disease. Dirty streets means rats and disease – but Stella doesn’t care, when you’re on £180,000 a year you’re unlikely to do your shopping in Handsworth, Balsall Heath, Castle Brom or Lozells.
Bin men under attack – again
Refuse workers are vital to society; they do a job most people don’t want to do. Just because they work with rubbish they shouldn’t be treated like rubbish. In meetings held in March with Council refuse workers it was announced that Bin men are expected to take a £3,000 per annum pay cut, for some that figure could be £4,000-6,000. Workers are also expected to work an increase from four to five days a week.
The longer a bin man has been employed the more his pay will be cut, such is the logic of this Labour Council. Leading Hands (Supervisors) on collection crews will be abolished putting the public at risk of fatal collisions with bin lorries and traffic. Safe working procedures, fought for by trade unions will be compromised. These are the serious consequences Fleet Waste Management face by axing Grade 3 positions in the service.
A statement by Unite the Union in June says:
“Unite regional officer Lynne Shakespeare has written to the city council’s chief executive Stella Manzie calling for talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas, as since the council was informed about the industrial action, management has refused to talk to Unite to resolve the issues.
Commenting on the dispute, Lynne Shakespeare said: “The council’s actions have managed to combine financial incompetence in the waste management team and now they have started bullying our members as the bosses attempt to cut full-time jobs.
“The council wants to axe 122 waste collection jobs after a woefully inadequate consultation with the unions.
“The process was a sham, bordering on a farce – and that’s why Unite members will be taking strike action to protect services to the public in the UK’s biggest local authority.
“Unite also wants to preserve their jobs from an unnecessary cuts programme which has also seen a sharp increase of agency staff replacing permanent workers which is of no benefit to anyone.”
In her letter to Ms Manzie, Lynne Shakespeare said: “This situation cannot go on any longer hence our action ballot. I would invite you to join with us in non-binding conciliation with Acas as otherwise we shall have no alternative but to increase our action and fight this campaign on the streets, in the media and in the courts, if we need to.”
Unite members voted by 90 per cent for strike action over proposed job cuts to the city’s waste and refuse service and attempts by council bosses to tear up long standing agreements with the union covering staffing levels and working patterns. The workers also voted by 93 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.
The ballot results came on the same day as council bosses announced that they intended to make 122 waste collection staff redundant by the beginning of July which is about 20 per cent of the actual refuse collection squad.”
What can we do?
Bin men and others who turn out on strike will need to come out determined to win. The bin men should find creative ways to ensure lorries do not leave depots, that tyres are bereft of air, that wagons have ignitions but no keys, that entrances and exits are barricades and scabs from the Agency don’t do Stella’s dirty work. The public can help! Any wagon that makes it out must be persuaded not to complete its work and pressure must be piled upon the Council from the rate payers, who can take their rubbish and heap it upon the steps of the Council House for Labour Party leader Clancy and his gang to clean up, better still take your rubbish to the neighbourhood offices of the local Labour Party and they can feel what it’s like to live amongst the filth and the mess.
What’s wrong with Britain?
Too many people in this country are waiting for all the cuts to magically come to an end but capitalism is in a crisis and no lasting recovery is possible. The future is socialism – common ownership of the means of production by those who do the work and an end to the riches concentrated in the hands of a greedy few.
Whether it’s the privatisation of the NHS, the cost of endless foreign wars of aggression which only create jihadi’s who come back and attack us, or the seven year long freeze on public sector pay – it’s time for British workers to draw a few simple conclusions from all too apparent observations:
Council Cuts = dirty streets, more rats & disease
Labour or Tory – it’s the same old story
Capitalism means economic crisis, racism and war
Yes to Brexit – no to xenophobia
Its class against class – rich against poor
Fight for socialism – join the Communist Party”
Photos from Perry Barr & Lifford Lane::