Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/871/21443
The Socialist 23 September 2015 |
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Traffic wardens strike for better pay
Civil enforcement officers (CEOs - previously known as traffic wardens), employed by private service provider NSL in Camden, are to hold a seven day strike starting 23 September. This follows a four-day strike held at the beginning of September.
The Unison members are demanding a pay increase to £9.50 an hour. NSL has offered £9.27.
This is in a central London area where costs are sky-rocketing. It's also despite the fact that the company is known to pay higher wages to its workers in another London borough, Waltham Forest.
The workers are therefore determined that it's both possible and necessary for them to win their demand. They want to show NSL that they can't be pushed around.
Enough is enough
The Socialist Party fully supports the workers in this dispute. This is not the first time that these workers have had to take action.
In 2012, strike action by NSL workers won a 3% increase a year for three years. NSL has contracts with several other London boroughs and councils around the country.
It's not as though NSL can plead poverty. In 2014 they made £18.8 million in profits, and parking tickets handed out by the wardens also generated £24 million for Camden council in the same year.
In an attempt to break the strike earlier this month NSL brought in staff working in other areas, not only paying them £10 an hour - more than the NSL workers in Camden are asking for - but a subsistence allowance too.
NSL management also attempted to intimidate staff at the CCTV depot by implying that if they went on strike they could lose their jobs. Despite all this intimidation NSL workers are determined to see this dispute through.
However, Labour-controlled Camden council isn't showing the same determination to support these low paid workers. Camden Unison members appealed to the recent full council meeting but were just met with empty words from the cabinet councillor who oversees the NSL contract.
Camden council workers need councillors that will stand up for their rights, pay and conditions. Camden council should demand that NSL meets the pay demands of its workers.
The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has opened up a whole new situation in Britain. NSL workers have been enthused by his election.
Camden Labour councillors should build on this enthusiasm to discuss how they can put into action Jeremy Corbyn's call for councils to stand together and refuse to implement government cuts. This dispute shows why all outsourced services should be brought back under direct council control and run in the interests of the community, not the profiteers.