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Unison was due in the High Court in Manchester yesterday facing contempt proceedings brought by Sefton MBC for igno...
Unison was due in the High Court in Manchester yesterday facing contempt proceedings brought by Sefton MBC for ignoring an injunction preventing it taking illegal strike action.

The court hearing began on Tuesday but was adjourned to reopen yesterday.

The council was seeking a ruling that the local Unison branch had defied an injunction obtained on 27 June when it staged a strike the next day. The council claims the branch did not fulfil its legal obligations to hold a secret ballot and give seven days' notice of action.

It was seeking sequestration of the union's assets for contempt of court and action against two local union officials - branch chair Martin Murphy and branch secretary Nigel Flanagan.

The local branch has now organised three strikes over the council's decision to investigate externalisation of its construction-related services work before it has to put the work out to compulsory competitive tendering. As part of a twin-track response to the prospect of CCT the council was also working on preparing an in-house bid for the work.

Following the third strike on 7 July the council's policy and resources committee decided not to pursue the externalisation option. A sub-committee subsequently decided to refer the contempt back to the High Court.

A one-day strike by Unison in protest at Bromley LBC's plans to introduce a local pay scheme last Thursday had no significant impact on services, according to the council. It estimates that 286 of the Unison branch's 880 members took strike action.

The Unison branch estimates nearly 1,000 people obeyed the strike call. Branch secretary Glenn Kelly said the strike exceeded expectations. 'Their figures are laughable,' he said.

The branch says it will give the council until September to put together detailed proposals but will consider further action if various demands are not met. The union wants the council to ballot all staff on the scheme, to guarantee that no-one will be worse off and to allow existing and new staff to have the right to remain within the national scheme.

The council says new staff will be given local contracts and existing staff will have to switch to local contracts when they change jobs.

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