Report by Tom Baldwin
Staff from Connexions in Bristol took strike action last Thursday, joined by colleagues from across the former Avon area. Connexions is an advice service that helps young people get access to education, training and employment.
As the Unison strike leaflet pointed out, this is more vital now than ever. Most people on the picket line were striking for the first time.
They felt pushed into taking this step in the face of attacks to pay and conditions and a lack of willingness to negotiate by management.
The service they provide has already come under the butcher's knife. One third of staff have been made redundant and other posts aren't filled when people leave.
Yet the remaining staff are expected to carry the same workload. Now they too are under attack, they have been promised pay cuts of up to 18%! To add insult to injury, managers will retain significantly more of their pay, so much for "we're all in it together".
Workers aren't just expected to swallow enormous pay cuts, they are also being asked to work an extra three hours a week for nothing. Those I spoke to were very proud of the service they provide but frustrated that cuts get in the way of them helping more young people.
Having taken the step to join their first ever picket line they were prepared to take more action if management still refuses to come to the table. They also agreed with the need to link up their struggle with other workers facing cuts and expect Unison to join action of other unions against attacks on public sector pensions.