Dave @ Complex System of Pipes has a great report of strike action happening today, he tours around Manchester and gets the goods-
First we went to a council office in Gorton. Unison steward Phil Moth said they’d had a very good response to the picket line. This was borne out by the honking of supportive horns from virtually every other car or van that drove past, and hte near-emptiness of the car park. One first-time striker said she was shocked by the level of hostility they received from some of the non-unionised workers; another steward commented that those scabbing were almost all at the higher end of the pay scale. Several of the workers that did come in expressed an interest in joining the union – membership has apparently been surging in the run-up to the strike. One visitor to the offices – a member of NAHT – said he wasn’t about to cross the picket line, and turned right around to leave, boosting the morale of the picketers considerably.
Here a number of schools and council run facilities have closed down for the day.
“The 2.45% pay offer is clearly below the current inflation rate of 4% , meaning that council workers are set to lose out in real terms. This comes at a time when fuel costs are escalating at an alarming rate, meaning that many of these workers will be far worse off in future compared to their previous position. The lowest paid – many of whom are barely above the minimum wage – will be hardest hit.
“Council staff provide key services to our local communities the length and breadth of Wales, and this has become evident with the strikes. We rely on these workers in our everday lives. However inconvenient, I would call on the public to think about the predicament that the workers find themselves in and offer them their support.
“It is unfair that local government workers are being asked to bail out UK Labour’s failed economic and spending decisions. While the Labour Government is happy to spend billions of pounds on a continuing war, an escalating Olympic Games bill and a mutli-billion pounds nuclear system, they are not prepared to help council workers in Wales who are facing hardship in paying their monthly bills.”
To demonstrate the climate this is happening in- I am told the leisure centre in Holyhead is being closed and no replacement built, the land sold off to developers apparently with some rumour of a private health club maybe being built somewhere. So if you must teach your children how to swim (sort of handy on an island) you could pay through the nose there… if it is built. Perhaps though an organised movement to get a new leisure centre could prevail… School meals were privatised on the island to a corporation that provides them for many councils, the local Gwynedd council run facility having lost the contract will have to fire workers. The council say they will monitor the new suppliers who say they will look to source local produce, that remains to be seen, even so the food is now provided for profit. Related to council activities- The theatre in Bangor has just been closed, the University that owned it is not well developed in arts or cultural studies and not having a theatre/cinema doesn’t help improve that, 12 people have lost their jobs. Vague mentions of a new arts centre have been used to placate some, but there is no commitment and already some pledges have been abandoned (call me crazy but if you were serious you would build the new before closing the old, or at the very least have a commitment and plans ready to break ground). There is now no theatre facility in Bangor or within a reasonable distance, I have seen three of my nieces perform there in schools and performing arts society productions, now they have no venue. It is indicative of the way facilities run for the common and cultural good are being closed and private space encroaching on the civic infrastructure. However the councils have millions to spend on management consultants, I would tell you how much ours spent but…they didn’t answer the FOIA request.
Still look on the bright side, crappy Euro-pop videos use the area as a cheap substitute for Spain. Culture!