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23 May 2011, 11:10
Thousands of Southampton council workers are taking industrial action this week, including strikes, in a row over terms and conditions, hitting refuse collection, street cleaning and other services.
Members of Unite and Unison at Southampton City Council will take action after claiming that thousands of workers face being sacked and re-engaged on substantially lower terms and conditions.
Care workers, street cleaners, refuse collectors, social workers, parking enforcement officers, building trades and other employees will take action this week, including strikes and a ban on overtime.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The tactic being deployed by Southampton City Council is possible because UK employment law reinforces the medieval master-servant principle that has no place in the 21st century.
“Our members are standing up for basic human rights. The actions of Southampton City Council should be condemned by all decent people.”
Mark Wood, Unite's convenor at the council, added: “This action along with the possibility of more planned strikes throughout the summer months will cause major disruption, but it does not have to be this way.
“Council employees have been given no option but to take this action by an unreasonable employer more intent on breaking their will than working together and it's the public of Southampton who will suffer.”
Picket lines will be mounted outside council offices all week.
In a statement on their website the council say:
“Southampton City Council is disappointed that unions have decided to take ongoing industrial action.
The trade unions, Unite and Unison, have asked union members to take industrial action due to a dispute over changes to staff terms and conditions.
The council believes that these changes are essential to avoid a further 400 job losses and to protect public services.
Some service areas across the council could be affected over the coming weeks. The council will be notified by the unions of any strike action seven days beforehand. We will make sure you are fully updated on any possible service disruption on our website.
We apologise for any impact industrial action may have on you.”