Councils accused of ‘menacing’ employees over strike action

The
T&G union claims councils are intimidating workers in an attempt to weaken
the strike planned for this Wednesday, the first national strike in local
government for 23 years.

A
‘Bully Watch’ survey of local councils has shown council workers are being
threatened if they strike with:


Privatisation, followed by pay cuts and no pension


Widespread redundancies


Dismissal because the strike is claimed to be unlawful when it is not


Disciplinary action against workers who speak to the local media or use
internal e-mail to talk about the strike


Cuts in pension for older workers who strike

Birmingham
City Council, Britain’s largest council, has led dozens of others in writing to
all of its 35,000 employees threatening privatisation and job losses. 

At
the weekend the Employers’ Organisation said an increase for the lowest paid on
£4.80 an hour would make women workers in councils "terminally
uncompetitive", pointing to the statutory minimum wage of £4.20.

Sandwell
in the West Midlands has told its employees they are "breaching their
contract and the council is entitled to take action in response", despite
the fact that the workers concerned are protected in law against dismissal.

East
Riding in Yorkshire has threatened shop stewards with disciplinary action if
they speak to the local press. The Employers’ Organisation nationally has
advised councils to "ban the use of IT" by workers communicating with
one another making it clear that any breach would be treated as a disciplinary
offence.

Reading
has told older workers their pension will suffer if they strike, despite the
fact that workers have the right to buy back any days lost. 

T&G
National Organiser, Jack Dromey, chair of the three unions negotiating
committee said: "It is immoral for councils to intimidate low paid
workers. The threats of privatisation redundancies, cuts to pension, use of the
disciplinary process and dismissal of those who speak out will not work. The
more councils menace, the stronger becomes the determination of their employees
to take a stand."

By Quentin Reade

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