A flying picket of women admin workers in Kirklees brought refuse workers out on unofficial strike on Tuesday of this week.
The women, who work for Kirklees council and are in the Unison union, were beginning a three day strike against compulsory redundancies and attacks on pay.
Sue does database work for the council. She told Socialist Worker, “Up until two years ago I absolutely loved my job. But since then it’s been like having a noose around my neck that keeps getting yanked.
“I’m stressed and demoralised. I’ve got a mortgage and bills to pay—I can’t afford to have my wages cut.”
She said that the workers’ first one day strike earlier this month had been her first time on a picket line. “I was amazed at how much support we got,” she added.
Strikers targeted the Vine Road bin depot to get other workers out and escalate the dispute.
Unison steward Theresa Maxon said this week’s strike was “more tactical” than the first one.
“One member said she couldn’t afford to strike. But by the end of the conversation she had changed her mind and today she’s picketing.”
Bin workers arriving at the depot were greeted by pickets waving Unison flags and placards.
Some were uncertain of how to respond. Others were angry because they hadn’t expected the picket and didn’t want to lose a day’s pay.
Yet they voted to refuse to cross the picket line after discussing the dispute in a street meeting—and the vast majority respected the picket line. Many felt that workers should stick together.
Eric Robinson drives refuse vehicles and is a Unite union member.
“If these women’s jobs are being cut it’s wrong,” he said. “The whole public sector is getting battered.”
Trudy Fomes works on the bins too. “I agree with their strike,” she said. “I won’t cross the picket line.”
The strike involved more than 400 workers, 92 percent of whom are women.
Kirklees Unison branch has requested a ballot of all its members—around 8,500.
Mick Donaghue is a Unison steward in Kirklees. “We need to stick together,” he said, gesturing to the pickets. “It’s them today but it could be us in a few months.
“We’ve got to make a stand.”
Send messages of support and donations to Kirklees Unison, 4 New North Parade, Huddersfield, HD1 5JP
Phone 01484 511826