Thousands of council workers in Tower Hamlets struck on 3-6-7 July against mass sackings and the imposition of new, significantly worse terms and conditions under the “Tower Rewards” scheme. As we go to press Tower Hamlets Unison reps have been meeting to discuss their next steps. There may be more strikes in the week starting 13 July.
Picket organisers reported a strong strike turnout and good numbers at socially distanced pickets across the borough, plus many more members “striking from home”. Refuse workers organised by Unite and GMB supported the action, and some refused to cross picket lines.
Management attempted to deter pickets by calling police, leading to two supporters being arrested on 6 July. This is the latest shameful tactic employed by a Labour council against its workforce.
Online rallies were held on 3 and 6 July, with about 400 at both. 12 Labour councillors have now spoken out against the attack. 1,300 Labour members and trade unionists have signed an open letter supporting the workers and calling on the council to withdraw the scheme.
Although the Momentum machine has still put out almost nothing about the strike, the decision of the Momentum NCG to back the workers has sparked incipient controversy about the role of Labour councils, with Labour right-wingers taking to social media and the LabourList site to denounce any criticism.
We should use this dispute to push the other way, to get serious debate about what Labour councils should be doing to stand with rather than attacking their workforces and communities.
• Sign the Free Our Unions statement protesting against the council’s striking-breaking and use of Tory anti-union laws here
• More on the Tower Hamlets Unison site