Hackney council strikes intensify

Hackney council strikes to escalate as parking services workers join pay dispute

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Strikes at Hackney council will escalate in the coming weeks, Unite has warned, with 70 parking services workers now joining more than 200 of their colleagues in a dispute over pay.

Staff working in refuse, building services and disability transport services took six days of strike action in late April and early May over an ‘insulting’ 1.75 per cent pay offer. With the real rate of inflation (RPI) now running at 11.1 per cent, strike action is set to step up in the coming weeks.

In addition, Hackney parking services staff are to be balloted for industrial action over pay and conditions after their department was insourced back to the council on April 1 this year – potentially bringing the total number of striking workers to 270.

Parking services staff have been told that negotiations over their pay, terms and conditions will not even be considered until next year. The workers are on inferior wages and contracts compared to other Hackney council workers.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Inflation is at a 40-year high yet Hackney council is offering its staff what amounts to a major pay cut.

“Meanwhile, newly insourced parking staff are expected to accept being treated as a second-class workforce. Hackney council needs to think again because our members won’t stand for it and neither will Unite.”

Hackney parking services staff were transferred from private company APCOA on April 1 but remain on much poorer APCOA wages and terms and conditions, including lower sick pay and annual leave entitlement.

The rest of the council’s employees are being offered 1.75 per cent, rising to 2.75 per cent for those on the bottom pay point, which has been set nationally by the Local Government Association (LGA) for 2021/22.

Unite says that the 1.75 per cent offer is a real terms pay cut and comes after 11 years of austerity that have seen wages for council workers plunge by 22 per cent in real terms.

Hackney council is falsely claiming that it is unable to improve on the offer set by the LGA, even though there is a clause within the terms of the negotiations to do just that.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab added, “For a Labour council with £300 million in its useable reserves to try and make its staff pay the price for this economic crisis is just plain wrong. It is certainly in no position to boast about its insourcing efforts when the workers that have been transferred are no better off.

“Hackney council now needs to do the right thing and sit down and negotiate. The consequences of not doing so will result in the shutdown of a number of vital services as the dispute continues to escalate.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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