Strike one - day six
We’ve done it again! SMB Unite has been out again in numbers. And it has to be said that the day was marked by even more acts of solidarity for our dispute and support than yesterday.
On Day six we picketed at sites across London and Bristol before taking our protests to Hackney and Lewisham Town Halls.
In the early morning, the President of East London Teachers Association attended the Half Moon Court picket line to present a solidarity collection for our hardship fund.
Members then made their way from across London to gather at the entrance to Mare Street Hostel in preparation for a march down Mare Street to the rally outside the Town Hall.
The space around Hackney Town Hall could almost have been designed to cater for protests like ours. A large plaza area, surrounded by gardens, leads towards the steps of the white stone entrance to the Town Hall. Lots of room for union members to congregate and make noise!
Councillors Philip Glanville (Housing) and Councillor Jonathan McShane (Adult Social Care) spoke to us on the steps of the Town Hall. The conversation was very positive and they both stressed their support.
Sandra Hall from Hackney Teachers association brought us a £30 solidarity collection and Sue Caldwell from Urswick School NUT brought us £40. Both brought their respective union banners and spoke to members about the importance of our dispute and the importance of solidarity.
Adam Lambert read out the text of the Early Day Motion passed by Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons today to huge applause. This motion will assist us in pulling in further support from a far wider audience.
Sacked One Housing Group Unite convenor Bryan Kennedy attended the rally (see the “I’m Bryan” campaign on this website). He has been supporting the picket at Mare Street throughout the week. His support is greatly appreciated and our shop has not forgotten his dispute.
After hearing other local trade unionists and members of the reps team speak, the protest took an impromptu stroll around the block to make our presence known to the whole of the civic complex. And then we packed up our Rat and headed for Lewisham.
And then some more of the same.
Seakers at the rally at Lewisham Civic Centre included Councillor Kevin Bonavia and NUT Executive member Martin Powell-Davies. They both spoke eloquently about the support they are offering to us.
We also spoke to Councillor Joe Dromey (Policy and Performance) about the dispute. Both Lewisham councillors pledged to meet us for more detailed talks and are fully in support of our fight in the face of the imposed changes to our charity.
Other local trade unionists spoke and offered support to us before we finally packed up and headed for home.
Once again we have proved that we mean business. Once again members have mobilised and protested in significant numbers.
It is a tribute to our shop that we have been able to pull off picket lines across the capital and beyond on every day of this dispute. Most of us have never been on strike before and did not take the decision to strike lightly.
We are well aware of the possible impact to our clients of taking action like this. We know this better than anyone else, and we don’t need anyone preaching to us about that. And we also know that if we don’t stand up now, the consequences for us and for our clients will be far worse down the road.
Not business as usual.
Every day that passes sees support growing for our dispute. Let’s be clear about why this is. SMB is a large employer and we are a large shop, that’s true, but there are larger union shops than ours.
The fact that we then have gone on to hold amazing demonstrations and pickets all over London has raised expectations of our dispute in key areas of the movement.
A victory for us would make it easier for many other workers to fight back against greedy bosses. That is why we are receiving so much support and that is what makes it even more important that we win.
And that is why if Howard Sinclair is not prepared to budge from his current position we need to make sure that we strike again.
This week has shown us the strength that we possess when we act together.
We are winning this dispute at the moment. We have the advantage. We need to discuss the next steps as a union very soon and then act quickly in order to keep it.