Birmingham city council has upped the ante in its battle with its staff over equal pay, by seeking to impose new contracts which mean drastic pay cuts thousands of workers and longer hours for thousands more.
The council claims that its goal is equal pay between men and women, but is quite transparently using this as cover for an attack on the workforce. Many women, as well as male, workers will suffer pay cuts if it is successful — some by as much as £6,000 a year. No wonder 70 percent of workers have either formally rejected or decided to ignore their new contracts.
This struggle has been simmering for some time, with 1000-plus rallies outside Birmingham town hall. The council unions, Unite, Unison, GMB and UCATT, will rally again on January 12, supported by council workers from across the UK. If they can win a settlement which guarantees equality while protecting workers’ wages, terms and conditions, it will be a big step forward in clarifying the labour movement’s current confusion over equaly pay. To do that, however, strike action will be necessary.
• Rally to support Birmingham council workers: 12 noon, Saturday 12 January, outside the Council House in Market Square.