Local Councils

Making anti-racism a union issue

Two years ago, activists in the Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison launched a campaign to fight institutional racism at Lambeth Council. We knew our employer had a huge race pay gap. We were hearing from our members that they were experiencing more racism at work, since the Brexit vote. We launched a survey and our black workers told us about their experiences of discrimination at work. The stats showed the same story. There were a disproportionate number of white workers in higher grades. You were more likely to face a disciplinary investigation at Lambeth if you were black...

Manctopia? Remaking Manchester for capital

The population of city centre Manchester is set to double in the next five years. 105 complexes of flats are planned. Already tower blocks, usually of little architectural merit, are being built on any available land regardless of the effects on the local environment. Where the land is not free, historic buildings are often demolished or left to rot until they become impossible to save. Until the 1990s, few people lived in the city centre. Now it is becoming “Manc-hattan”. A number of traditionally working-class areas on the fringes of the city centre are being redeveloped as part of a plan to...

Shift in Tower Hamlets

John Biggs, mayor of the Labour council in Tower Hamlets, east London, has at last agreed to talk directly with the public services union Unison about his “Tower Rewards” plan to cut terms and conditions. He will meet Unison Regional Secretary Maggie Ferncombe, other officials, and branch representatives. This move follows nine days of strikes by Tower Hamlets Unison in July and August in response to the imposition of “Tower Rewards”. Unison branch secretary John McLoughlin says: “If management were genuine in their claim that Tower Rewards was not in part about making it easier to make staff...

Let Tower Hamlets reballot!

After nine strike days since the start of July, and a lot of vibrant campaigning, Tower Hamlets council workers are regrouping in their fight to stop the “Tower Rewards” attack on their terms and conditions. Under the anti-union laws, they need to reballot to strike again. There are rumours that the national Unison leadership, despite its public support for the dispute, is dragging its feet and insisting on drawn-out procedures that will make further action impossible for a while yet. Unison activists will push the union leaders to move faster. We can help by continuing to build support for...

Tower Hamlets workers out again

On 13, 14 and 17 August Tower Hamlets council workers will strike again to defeat the “Tower Rewards” attack on their terms and conditions. 17 August will be their ninth strike day since the start of July. According to Tower Hamlets Unison, two thirds of the workforce have refused to sign the new, inferior contracts, despite all kinds of management lies and bullying, including threats of sacking. The Tower Hamlets workers have run an energetic, determined campaign, generating enthusiastic support from their community and from bottom to top of the labour movement. The notable exception has been...

Tower Hamlets strikes again

Tower Hamlets council workers’ fight against attacks on their terms and conditions is continuing, with new strike dates on 13, 14 and 17 August. The workers want to reballot when their current ballot mandate expires on 22 August; so far the Unison bureaucracy is stalling them on that. • Sign up for solidarity and donate here • Updates here • Interview with Tower Hamlet’s Unison’s social care convener Amina Patel here

Tower Hamlets workers can win

Members of the public services union Unison in Tower Hamlets council, East London, had good support again for a strike on 15-17 July, following another on 3-6-7 July. We understand that the local Unison branch is pressing the union nationally to approve a longer strike, and a reballot if the council will not concede before the validity of the current ballot expires on 22 August. Tower Hamlets Unison’s adult social care convener Amina Patel told us: “The fight is very much continuing and we need to keep the momentum up. We’re calling on all Tower Hamlets councillors, on all Labour MPs but most...

Luton cuts

Luton’s Labour council has passed an emergency budget (with support from Tories on the council) which cuts 365 jobs and frontline services. Luton is particularly hard-hit because the council has depended heavily on revenues from Luton Airport, which have dwindled with the lockdown. Other councils also face budget gaps from extra spending in the lockdown, only partly covered by central government aid, and reduced incomes. Labour should be campaigning for the Tory government to restore the cuts made by the Tories to local government funding since 2010.

Support the Tower Hamlets workers!

Thousands of council workers in Tower Hamlets struck on 3-6-7 July against mass sackings and the imposition of new, significantly worse terms and conditions under the “Tower Rewards” scheme. As we go to press Tower Hamlets Unison reps have been meeting to discuss their next steps. There may be more strikes in the week starting 13 July. Picket organisers reported a strong strike turnout and good numbers at socially distanced pickets across the borough, plus many more members “striking from home”. Refuse workers organised by Unite and GMB supported the action, and some refused to cross picket...

Support the Tower Hamlets strikers

Tower Hamlets Labour council intends to implement a plan, “Tower Rewards”, to sack its entire 4,000-strong workforce — carers, caretakers, children’s centre workers, housing and homelessness workers, refuse workers, cleaners, social workers, teaching assistants and many, many others — and re-employ only those who will accept substantially worse terms and conditions.

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