Unions Call Off Southampton Protest

UNISON and UNITE have cancelled a protest planned for 10 April to coincide with the opening of the SeaCity Museum.

The protest and industrial action had been called as part of the dispute over the imposition by the Conservative controlled City Council of savage wage cuts in July 2011.  

Since making the original announcement of the protest in February, the trade unions have been consulting their members and a range of Southampton community organisations.

The protest was not designed to diminish the memory of the Southampton seafarers, most of whom were members of trade unions.

When the original decision had been made to call the protest the trade unions were not aware that the City Council had organised a parade of 500 children through the City Centre which would have coincided with the route the trade unions protest was due to take. No wishing to cause the children distress, nor to spoil an activity the children had been planning for some time, the trade union protest has been cancelled.

Council workers still believe that money saved by cutting their wages has been used to fund the construction of the museum.  The Council is refusing to say how much the museum has cost to build, where the money is coming from and how much the cost of interest on the loans taken out will be.

The trade unions action short of strike is continuing. A six week hearing of the trade unions claim against the Council for failing to consult on the mass sackings in July will start at the Southampton Employment Tribunal on 5 November.

UNISON Branch Secretary, Mike Tucker, commented, "While cutting back services for the elderly, the disabled and young people, the Council is spending millions on a museum which is being opened on 10 April purely to enhance the Conservatives election campaign.  Council workers remain angry that their wages have been cut, while money is spent on Cllr Smith's vanity project.  Basic services to the people of Southampton are more important than a museum being built to boost the political prospects of the Conservative Party".

UNITE Branch Secretary, Mark Wood, commented, "Council leaders are lording over the rest of us saying there is no money and that we have to share the pain, whilst at the same time they max out on Southampton's Credit Card; paying for a museum that the private sector was not interested in running or funding and spending millions on needless office refurbishments and pointless blue lights on the toll bridge".

"Borrowing, estimated to cost almost £5 million a year in interest payments alone, while in some areas of Southampton 1 in 4 children are living in poverty and our elderly go without essential services, is just obscene to me.  This Conservative Council's priority is clearly self preservation at any cost."

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