More than one thousand council workers joined the latest strike against Tory cuts to services and jobs and 5.5% cuts in pay.
More than a thousand council workers have taken part in the first day of all-out strike action of its kind in the four-month dispute with the Tory-led local authority in Southampton.
Seven hundred Unite members struck on Thursday across the council workforce on the same day that UNISON estimates 400 social care workers took part in the latest industrial action in opposition to pay, service and job cuts across the council.
Mark Wood, Unite Convenor for Southampton City Council told a rally of hundreds of strikers and supporters: “We’re not going away. We’re going to fight till we resolve this”.
Since the dispute began in July, UNISON and Unite have called members out in a series of rolling one-day strikes designed to hit individual council departments, from refuse workers to care staff and bridge toll collectors. Both unions are questioning the decision by the council leader Royston Smith to raise nearly £100 million to fund what they regard as unnecessary capital projects, such as the Titanic Museum at a time when councillors are also trying to force wage cuts of 5.5% on staff.
Unite’s Regional Organiser, Ian Woodland told UnionNews the dispute has taken on a political edge: “If the people of Southampton and our members want to resolve this issue with Royston Smith, they can vote him and his party out. We are dealing with extreme employers. They’ve cut pay and all we want to is to bring it back to the level we expect it to be.” Unions are continuing to press the council for further negotiations to on pay and proposals for further service cuts in the autumn budget. “This is a dispute for the long term,” says Ian Woodland, “not short term gain.”
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