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Labour councillors pledge to join picket lines


In a letter to The Guardian today a group of Labour MPs and councillors pledge that they will not cross picket lines during the strike taking place tomorrow:

Instead we will be joining picket lines to do what Labour politicians should do: be on the side of labour.

It sounds to me like a bit of a rebuke for their leader Ed Miliband -who has expressed opposition to strikes. After this legendary interview from the summer - when he opposed strikes when negotiations were still in progress - he has gone rather further this time by saying he is always against going on strike:

“Strikes are always a sign of failure but I’m not going to demonise the people who are taking the action.” 

“I don’t support strikes because they are always a sign of failure.”

Councillors are employees of their local authorities. But what does a councillor joining a strike mean? Will they notify their Human Resources Department to deduct a day's pay from their allowances? What about their work outside the Town Hall? Will they refuse to respond to casework when residents ring or email them? Sometimes the problems raised are urgent. Will they refuse to go to residents meetings taking place tomorrow? What if a councillor speaks to a Council officer on the phone rather than going in to see them in the Town Hall? They have avoided crossing a picket line but are they still a scab?

Anyway the following Labour councillors have signed up:

Cllr Charlynne Pullen, Islington
Cllr Kevin Hind, Bury St Edmunds
Cllr Andrea Oates, Broxtowe
Cllr Geoff Lumley, Isle of Wight
Cllr Andy Walker, Redbridge
Cllr Kieran Thorpe, Welwyn Hatfield
Cllr Claire Traynor, Maghull
Cllr Mike Jones, Maghull
Cllr Kingsley Abrams, Lambeth
Cllr Dave Young, Calderdale
Cllr Clive Grunshaw, Wyre/Lancashire
Cllr Mike Rowley, Oxford
Cllr Van Coulter, Oxford
Cllr Matthew Brown, Preston
Cllr Jenny Smith, Bristol
Cllr John McGhee, East Ayrshire
Cllr Jay Kramer, Hastings
Cllr Patrick Vernon, Hackney
Cllr John Tanner, Oxford
Cllr Tom Neilson, North West Leicestershire
Cllr Mick O'Sullivan, Islington
Cllr Sam Tarry, Barking & Dagenham
Cllr Tony Belton, Wandsworth
Cllr Lynne Allen, Hillingdon
Cllr Greg Marshall, Broxtowe
Cllr Barry Buitekant, Hackney

These figures from The Spectator put the Government's pension reforms into perspective:

The unions Prospect (which represents engineers, scientists and other specialists) and the First Division Association (which represents senior civil servants) have voted to join the public sector strike over pensions, planned for 30 November. What percentage of their earnings do public sector workers contribute to their final salary pension schemes?

Civil servants who joined before 2002:  1.5
Civil servants who joined after 2002:   3.5
Civil servants (after planned reforms):         1.5 to 5.9
Teachers:       6.4
Doctors and nurses:      5 to 8.5
What private sector workers would have to contribute if they wanted to
enjoy the same pension:          37



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