Union members challenge councillors to reduce their own allowances to save jobs

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SOCIAL care workers in Southampton are to go on strike on October 6th, in the latest round of the long-running dispute between public service workers and the council.

Thousands of the city’s public services staff – members of both UNISON and Unite – have been involved in industrial action since May, after the council decision to sack and rehire all of its workforce on lower pay.

Social workers, waste and recycling workers, street cleaners, library staff and toll bridge collectors are among those who have taken part in staggered strike action.

On 15 August, after 12 weeks of industrial action, the strikers lost their legal protection from dismissal. But both UNISON and Unite members voted by four to one to continue, while continuing to negotiate for a better deal.

And the first to return to the picket lines will be social care workers, who will be taking part in their third strike of the dispute.

Branch secretary Mike Tucker said: “This shows the council that this dispute has not gone away. Our members are still prepared to support the industrial action, and we still have the financial resources to support our members. We’re also getting support from other branches.”

Mike Tucker said that since the last strike, in August, members have been disappointed yet again by Southampton councillors, who have rejected proposals to save money by reducing their own allowances.

He said: “The total cost of their allowances is £700,000. That is a huge amount of money. Their decision has angered our members even more.”

Other sections of workers are currently being consulted on joining the October 6th, the primary aim of which is to encourage the council to improve on its current proposal to return £1m into the wage bill, of the £6m of wages and allowances it has cut.

Mike Tucker hopes that there will be another meeting between unions and the employer before October 6th.

Meanwhile, he noted the wider significance of Southampton’s industrial action, saying: “The dispute is having an effect on the whole country. In both the adjacent councils of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight there were plans to implement wage cuts, which have now been rejected ­– because both councils have looked at Southampton, and they don’t want the same thing to happen to them.”


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