No doubt about it - Chipping Norton Labour supports strikers

It may be causing ructions at the top of the Labour Party but Chipping Norton members were in no doubt about showing support for striking workers this week.

By Richard Howarth
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 12:26 pm
Chipping Norton Labour Party members show their support for workers taking action in Banbury against BT
Chipping Norton Labour Party members show their support for workers taking action in Banbury against BT

They headed to Banbury yesterday, Monday, to show solidarity with members of the CWU – Communication Workers’ Union.

Speaking at the picket line at the telephone exchange, Cllr Steve Akers, chair of Chipping Norton Labour Party said: “We bring our solidarity from Chippy Labour. We wish you victory in your dispute with BT. It cannot be right that the CEO awards himself a 32 per cent pay rise, but has imposed a below inflation award for BT workers without any negotiation whatsoever.

"Like you we are also concerned about possible future compulsory redundancies.

“We will stand with you for as long as it takes.”

Chippy Labour member Sharon Akers, a UNISON Steward with Oxfordshire Health Services Branch said: “I bring the solidarity of UNISON Health Branch members. We have also suffered years of below inflation pay increases. We stand with you. Stay strong. Your cause is just. We could well be joining you in this 'Sizzling, summer of solidarity'.

Mr Akers added: “Chipping Norton Labour Party has a very proud history of supporting workers in struggle. CWU postal worker rep and Oxford City Councillor, Ed Mundy, spoke at our June Branch meeting and we were key in supporting and organising the ODTUC 'Solidarity with Striking Workers' in Oxford in July.We will be supporting CWU members and other workers in dispute in the coming weeks and months.”

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Phil Richards from North Oxfordshire Socialist Alliance said: “We went on Monday and we just took cups of coffee down to the picketers so we could join them for an hour or so. We think it's important to support them.“As socialists we need to support the campaign to ensure they get some support. We need to put the message out there because the media establishment is not giving the right story or getting the right message across.

“It's more than just about pay, it's about conditions of work, and forced redundancies in the case of railways to reduce costs and automise things. Pay has fallen behind. The BT workers are concerned with how technology is being used to reduce their conditions of work. We also went down to the RMT picket in Banbury the week before.

“These campaigns are going to be the start of what is to come. We're all suffering under the cost of living increases and the government doesn't seem to be doing anything at all.

Sean Woodcock, on behalf of Banbury Labour, told the Banbury Guardian: “People are going through the worst cost of living crisis in decades after 12 years of economic failure. The government is failing to respond so it is understandable that people are striking and Banbury Labour stand in solidarity with them.”

Monday was the second day of action, with the CWU estimating 40,000 members took part in the first day.

Deputy general secretary Andy Kerr said: “Announcing hundreds of millions of pounds in profit on the eve of the first national strike since 1987 smacks of arrogance and complete contempt for frontline workers.

“Our members kept the country connected during the pandemic. They deserve a proper pay rise.”