Southampton City Council workers are now taking industrial action against their employer Southampton city council which is sacking thousands of workers and re-engaging them on substantially lower terms and conditions.
Unite and Unison care workers, street cleaners, refuse collectors, social workers, parking enforcement officers, building trades are due to take industrial action to defend jobs, pay and conditions.
The actions of the council will affect 4300 employees. The council intends to sack workers then re-employ them on the 11th July on substantially lower terms and conditions.
Industrial action began just after midnight today (23rd May), consisting of targeted or selected strike action and action short of strike. 108 refuse workers will take full strike action for a week starting on 23rd and ending on 27 May. The remaining workers taking part in industrial action will take action short of a strike consisting of a work to rule, an overtime ban, no private car use to provide services and no mobile phone use as well as other actions. The union’s joint strike committee will meet today to consider future action.
Rather than negotiate with the union to resolve the dispute, Cllr Royston Smith the Conservative leader of Southampton city council would rather tour the country addressing Conservatives and distributing scare stories to the press.
Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail said: “The tactic being deployed by Southampton city council is possible because UK employment law reinforces the medieval ‘master-servant’ principle that has no place in the 21st Century. Our members are standing up for basic human rights . The actions of Southampton city council should be condemned by all decent people.”
Mark Wood, Unite Convenor at Southampton city council said: “This action along with the possibility of more planned strikes throughout the summer months will cause major disruption, but it does not have to be this way. Unite and Unison have offered talks using the conciliation service ACAS but rather than engaging in dialogue with the unions the council have been posturing in the local press. Council employees have been given no option but to take this action by an unreasonable employer more intent on breaking their will than working together and it’s the public of Southampton who will suffer.”
Ian Woodland Unite Regional Officer said: “Rather than engage in proper negotiations the leader of the council prefers to drip feed his political point of view to the press and ignore the concerns of his employees. These attacks on our members’ terms and conditions are being driven by a personal political agenda. The Tories have wanted to attack our member’s terms and conditions ever since they won control of the council in 2008. Our members are united, angry and determined.”
A picket is being held outside the town depot, Albert Road and will continue through the week. A picket will also be held outside 1 Guildhall Square, Southampton from 7.30am on 23 May.