Comrades of ‘Let’s get rooted’ have been active in the strike of public sector workers in Tower Hamlets. In Croydon down the road the council also announced cuts – comrades from Croydon Solidarity distributed leaflets and spoke to local workers. We have to point out that few of the workers we spoke to even knew that their colleagues in Tower Hamkets were on strike. Another piece of evidence that we can’t rely on the formal communication channels of the trade unions. Below a short report.

Went down to the Council buildings for 16.30 today. Turns out the main building to go for is the council HQ one on Fell Road. It has 2 entrances, so it would be good to cover it with a couple of people.. 16.30-17.20 has a steady trickle of people.

I probably gave out 30-40 flyers, could have done more with another person. I had maybe 7-8 brief conversations as generally people weren’t that keen to chat. I tended to say ‘here’s some information on the job cuts the council s just announced.’ And then if they seemed vaguely interested I’d ask ‘has there been much discussion in there about it.’ Then get onto speaking about the mood of the workers, the union, etc.

Generally, people said they were worried about it as they knew very little at the moment. They seem to believe it will affect all departments and all workers, regardless of how long they’ve been there. One worker in Housing had been there 16 years and she was worried, and said that normally her department is safe but this time she’s not sure. We spoke about the strike in TH and she said they had been forced to accept a worse contract about 10 years ago. Only two people had heard of the strike. One youngish guy said they will probably do a contract imposition in Croydon soon. Generally workers said there was some discussion going on inside about the cuts, but nothing concrete. Apparently the Chief Exec is going to address the workforce about the cuts tomorrow.

I asked people about the union and one lady asked if I was from the union. Some said the union had been touch, others weren’t aware. No went into enough detail to tell me anything they might be doing. One woman said everyone was fine with the cuts and the union wasn’t going to strike or do anything – she meant this in a positive way, so she may have been a manager trying to bullshit me. One guy said his department wasn’t with UNISON but covered by another union, I didn’t catch the name but it was some small specialist one.

Composition-wise, fairly 50/50 split between white British workers and mostly black British workers, and some African workers. A few people looked from Latin American and Asian backgrounds. Most of the workers were women. Probably 70%.

A lot of people are working from home so there wasn’t loads of workers to speak to. A few workers commented that this posed a problem with trying to do anything about the cuts. When I asked if there had been much discussion, one woman said ‘there’s no one to discuss with, everyone’s working from home!’

There are also NHS workers working out of the same building. When I approached one with the leaflet, she said ‘oh no I’m NHS, but there’ll probably be someone here next week talking to me about NHS cuts!’ I said it would probably be me…

We’ll probably have another go with a revised flyer next week, speaking about some concrete steps the workers could be taking and speaking more about the TH strike.