16 Jul 2008

Greens support Unison in Brighton

Lots more from us Greens on the GPTU blog

We had a great show of strength for the local govt strike today; The Royal Pavilion was successfully shut this morning (not sure how attempts to shut it this afternoon went) and both town halls had substantial numbers of pickets. I'd been on a picket from 8am till 9:30ish. There was also a large and very defiant lunchtime march and rally- GP had quite big profile. Cllr Ben Duncan gave speech below; no other political representation on march or at rally- shame the PA didn't work.

5am tomorrow for mass picket at local waste disposal unit and then picketting of all Council offices from 7:30am. Full council being picketted from 3:30pm- Tories charging ahead with the meeting; GP motion down to be discussed; Green councillors respecting picket line fully, expect only scabs to be on Tory benches but won't be surprised if other parties scab too.



Thanks to you all for coming out today in such numbers. I woke up this morning to radio coverage of striking UNISON members in Southampton and Manchester, and I’m delighted that there is clearly as much support for this action here in Brighton and Hove.

My name is Ben Duncan, I am a Green Party councillor and parliamentary candidate for Kemptown. I am honoured to have been asked to speak to you today on behalf of the local Green Party to express our solidarity with you and the action you are taking today and tomorrow.

As we’ve heard, this strike was precipitated by the Government offering local government workers a real-terms pay cut. This isn’t just financially unfair – it’s an insult too.

This makes you just the latest in a long line of public sector workers to face shoddy treatment from this Government.

Gordon brown says we all have to tighten our belts in the face of tough economic times – of rising food, housing and transport costs. He says spending money ensuring wages for some of the lowest-paid keep up with inflation will push that inflation still higher. What nonsense.

The reality is the current economic downturn has been caused by an out-of-control banking industry and an over dependence on ever-depleting oil reserves. So, what does the Gov’t do? It spends £50 billion bailing out the banks, and billions more fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to secure oil reserves. Meanwhile, it says we cant afford to take the economic risk of paying public sector workers the same as we did just a few years ago.

But this isn’t a theoretical argument about politics or economics – it’s about how to keep up with the very real rising costs of living.

And here in Brighton and Hove it’s particularly tough: we live in what has become known as the low-wage capital of the South-East but face some of the highest food and housing costs in the country.

When the Green Party, a few months back, proposed the council pay a living wage of £7 an hour to its lowest paid staff, we learned that this council, in this city, in 2008, pays less than that to 1,150 people. Mostly on casual contracts, we’re talking about cleaners, the lowest grades of library and teaching assistants and stewards at the Brighton Centre, to name just a few. Meanwhile its highest paid managers are taking home six figure salaries.

We think that’s just unacceptable in a fair society, and that’s why we are backing you all the way and are calling on this council, the Local Government Association, and the Gov’t, to reconsider this latest insulting pay offer and give all council workers a fair pay packet in return for the vital work you do in delivering essential services to the people of this city.

1 comment:

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Ghazala Khan
The Pakistani Spectator

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