Supporters of the Edinburgh Council Cleansing workers staged a high profile blockade of a private contractor's bin lorry on the High Street on Friday 2nd October. Around 15 people surrounded the lorry, immobilising it on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, at the top of Blackfriars Street, for nearly half an hour.
Police arrived and detained five people at the scene, at around 7pm. All were taken to St Leonards Police station and later charged under the Civic Government Act with "obstructing the passage of another", before being released in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Demonstrators surrounding the WCR lorry displayed IWW union placards declaring NO WAGE CUTS , SOLIDARITY WITH COUNCIL BIN WORKERS and BIN THE SCABS, and distributed copies of the Edinburgh Muckraker news-sheet which includes interviews with local Cleansing workers. Edinburgh' s bin workers and street cleaners are working to rule and banning overtime to oppose proposed wage cuts by the City Council under a so-called "pay modernisation" scheme.
WCR scab bin lorry blockaded on Edinburgh's Royal Mile on Friday 2nd October
" The recent revelation that the Council are planning major cuts and privatisations across a wide range of services makes it even more urgent that people make a stand now."
"Fridays action was our fourth succesful blockade of the private lorries that are being used to try to undermine the cleansing workers work to rule and overtime ban. We will not be intimidated by the arrests and we will be back on the streets taking action. We urge all Edinburgh residents who care about the quality of public services to join us."
The groups acting in solidarity with the cleansing workers are now appealing to the Jobcentre workers Union, the PCS, not to allow Assist or any other companies to advertise the scab jobs through the Jobcentre. Assist have been using St Andrews Square job centre to hold recruitment interviews for the people brought in to undermine the cleansing workers' action.
A spokesperson from The Edinburgh Muckraker said: "It is in all workers' interests to show solidarity with the Edinburgh Council cleansing workers. If one major employer gets away with wage cuts it will encourage others to try the same. We appeal to the Job Centre workers to do everything they can to stop these disgusting scab recruitment agencies operating in the Job Centres."
The City of Edinburgh Council's “pay modernisation” is supposedly intended to equalise male and female wages, but the scheme is in fact reducing wages for many workers, cleansing workers being set to lose around £300 per month. Almost all Council manual workers are threatened by such pay cuts. Meanwhile cleansing workers in Leeds are on all-out strike against similar wage cuts.
The next meeting to organise further solidarity with the council workers fighting pay cuts is being held this Tuesday 6th October at 7.30pm at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA. All interested very welcome.
Info on the regular meetings and solidarity activity from firstname.lastname@example.org
Copies of The Edinburgh Muckraker and solidarity stickers from above e mail address or pick up in Autonomous Centre, 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA - open Sats 11-6, Tues 1-4 and Thurs 6-8pm
Edinburgh bin and cleansing workers explain what the dispute is all about at http://www.indymediascotland.org/node/16551