Socialist Worker

Waltham Forest council workers ready to fight

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2258

Hundred of workers at Waltham Forest council in east London joined a lunchtime rally today (Wednesday).

The members of the GMB, Unison and Unite unions are livid after bosses announced plans to drastically worsen their terms and conditions. The three unions this week launched a consultative strike ballot.

All workers face reduced holiday and discretionary leave entitlements. And, some of the lowest paid will lose up to a thousand pounds a year if the changes go through.

Teaching assistant Michelle Walker was part of a delegation from Jenny Hammond primary school.

“Every teaching assistant, clerical worker and caretaker in the school is here today,” she told Socialist Worker.

“What the council is planning is robbery and makes us all feel undervalued. After all the unpaid and voluntary work we do in the schools, they treat us like this.

“We only earn around £10,000 a year, and they want to take up to a £1,000 off that. It’s an outrage.”

Chelsea Walker, another teaching assistant agrees.

“I was planning to make this my career, but I’m not sure I can afford to now. The shame is that I really love my job.”

School governor Sally Labern joined the workers from her school.

“As governors, we have decided to not to co-operate with the council’s plans. In fact, we’ve initiated a petition against them that we are circulating to parents and to the public,” she said.

“Downgrading the staff is going to affect the quality of the children’s education.”

Social worker Jenny Clark also stands to lose out—despite having worked for the council for 23 years.

“Because I’m disabled I tend to use some of my annual leave to rest. Those breaks mean I can carry on working.

“But if these changes go through I’m going to lose four days leave, and that will have a big affect on me. We can’t let them get away with it.”

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Thu 30 Jun 2011, 15:04 BST
Issue No. 2258
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