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20 February 2008

Victory for council street wardens

Street wardens in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, who are mostly members of Unite (T&G), have won a four-year battle for proper compensation for their anti-social hours.

Kevin Parslow, Unite (TGWU) 1/1228, branch secretary, personal capacity

The wardens, who are used as a flagship service by the borough, have been underpaid since their inauguration in 2003. Originally, their demand for anti-social payments of 3,600 for shifts that can go on to 10pm in summer and Saturday working was turned down.

The council imposed a 2,000 payment without agreement from the union. This was substantially lower than other warden schemes in London.

For four years the union has been negotiating with the council, who have continually claimed there is not enough money to pay the claim. Finally, the street wardens had had enough. In a ballot they voted overwhelmingly for strike action and took three 12-hour strikes in January.

Del Ahmet, their steward, said: "We think we proved a point. The second strike day was the best because we stood firm."

This finally brought the council to its senses and, following further negotiations, they have agreed a one-off payment of 2,150 as recompense for the last four years, enhancement of late hours and weekend working payments, plus a regular anti-social hours payment.

While the wardens recognise that they haven't won everything they asked for, this is a big victory at a time when other Waltham Forest council workers are facing attacks to their pay and conditions through single status.