London & Eastern J10 strike

Workers across the country took action on 10 July to demand fair pay and pensions. Council workers struck in support of the Unite pay claim of £1 an hour. Teachers, firefighters and civil servants too were out on strike. They were joined by Unite members in privatised services including Fusion Leisure in Croydon, Glendale Grounds Maintenance in Lewisham, SERCO Bexley, Elevate East London and library staff at Greenwich Leisure Limited.

The magnificent day of action was well supported throughout the region, with members turning up in large numbers on picket lines and local rallies, as well as the Central London demonstration. In Basildon Council Unite worked well with our sister union Unison to bring much of the refuse service to a halt, whilst in Thurrock agency workers refused to cross picket lines which resulted in a total stoppage of refuse and recycling services. In Greenwich, management had threatened to call the police if the word "scab" was used on the picket line. They also made clear that picket lines would be "observed" by human resource managers to check for bad behaviour. Unite therefore met the challenge by keeping up a chorus of "I would rather be a picket than a scab". No arrests were made as the police drove past and human resources didnt even turn up!

In London, the opportunity was taken to unite public sector workers with pay campaigns in the outsourced areas. This unity is vital to cut across the attempt at division by those who claim that the public sector gets better pay at the cost of the private sector. This was demonstrated by a school worker on one of the picket lines who said she was paid £12,000 a year as a learning support assistant on a 33 hour week providing intensive one to one support to a severely disabled child. To argue that she is well paid in comparison with some private sector workers is to accept the race to the bottom.

Workers in refuse collection were particularly visible on picket lines - in some cases beginning picketing from 4.30am - "job and knock" did not apply to the picket lines. In a number of boroughs afternoon picketing at depots was necessary to deal with possible strike-breaking from second shifts. However, in the main, it was a great response from our members on the bins with very few lorries leaving depots (some driven by managers - judging by past history we expect the accident book will be busy for July 10 as managers re-aquainted themseves with vehicles!).

Further strike action will be necessary to win our claim and this is planned for September - our task now is to build on July 10, increase organisation, increase membership and prepare for further action to win fair pay for local government workers.

Photos from the day can be found below and there are many more in the #J10 twitter feed on the right.

You can view messages from members explaining why they took this action and the photo album from marches and rallies around the country here.

Created with flickr slideshow.