Wednesday 20th April saw the final day of a five day strike by housing support workers at Leeds Federated Housing who face large pay cuts and the downgrading of some of their jobs. To mark the last day of this run of five, they called for support for their morning picket lines and around 20 or so trade unionists, socialists and anti-cuts campaigners turned up in support, with more supporters visiting over the course of the day. Added to the UNISON placards and flags that have been on the picket lines every day were banners from UNITE and USDAW members alongside the Leeds Youth Fight for Jobs and Leeds Socialist Party banners.
Iain Dalton, Hyde Park & Headingley Socialist Party
The mood was further heightened in the afternoon as the first press for days came down to cover the strike as a result of a press release put out by Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts candidate for nearby Headingley ward, Ian Pattison, that he and other anti-cuts activists in Leeds would be supporting the pickets. The strikers also lit up a barbeque and a were able to discuss with those offering support, particularly with union members and reps from Touchstone (who took a days strike action the previous week over similar attacks) and Community Links who are also housing support workers.
At the moment there has been a stoney wall of silence from Leeds Fed management, but union officials brought the news on Tuesday that they had been able to arrange a meeting through the city council with the management of all four companies contracted by the city council to provide housing support (Leeds Fed, Touchstone, Community Links and Foundation). If management still refuse to back down on these attacks then strike action should be co-ordinated between all affected workers, to aid in this process it is vital that UNISON creates a forum whereby stewards at the four workplaces can meet to discuss not just these attacks, but also future issues affecting housing support workers.