Traffic wardens in Camden launched a two-week strike on Thursday as part of their fight against low pay.
The 120 Unison union members in the north London borough work for outsourcing giant NSL.
Chants of “low pay, no way” rang out on the over 50-strong picket line outside the Regis Road depot. Tom, a Unison member, told Socialist Worker, “We need to fight it to the end, we can’t give in on it.
“If we don’t strike now, we won’t ever get anything.”
The workers are fighting to increase their pay to £11.15 an hour. David, a Unison member, told Socialist Worker, “People feel very strongly about it and that’s why the turnout on the picket line is impressive.”
NSL pays workers £10.20 an hour under three-year pay deal agreed in 2015-16. A
The London Living Wage has increased to £10.20 an hour, but NSL are refusing to pay up.
David explained how spiralling living costs are pushing many workers into poverty. “Housing, energy, food and transport costs have all gone up, but our pay isn’t keeping up with inflation,” he said.
“People are in debt with credit cards and bank loans.”
Tom said that people are relying on working long periods of overtime just to make ends meet. “You need to imagine the stress from always having to work overtime,” he said. “You can’t live on the basic pay.
“In London, it’s next to impossible.”
Workers have been angered by NSL and Labour-run Camden borough council’s claims that they can’t afford to give them a pay rise. David said, “Camden council took £26 million profit for Camden and NSL made £2 million profit last year.
“They say that the money is ring-fenced for other council services, but what about us who do the job?
“We bring in the money, but we don’t see a share of the profit.”
Tom added, “That’s what’s so annoying. Every day you can see what people bring in, but we don’t see it in our wages.”
Support for the walkout is solid—and is pulling in workers who didn’t strike during the first round of action in October. Jack, a first-time striker, said, “I’ve worked here seven years and witnessed three strikes.
“Negotiations should be the best way, but after the strike in October management came back with an offer that was worse than first one they proposed.”
Workers have shown that they are determined to fight against poverty pay. They will picket daily during the two-week strike and plan a demonstration in Camden this Saturday (see details below).
Some 80 people joined a demonstration last Saturday in support of the strike in north London.
The Unison national leadership should call more action to pile the pressure on the bosses.
And every trade unionist should join their picket lines and build solidarity for their fight.
Daily picket line 7am-10.30am, Kilburn Base - 199 Belsize Road, NW6 4AA, Camden Car Pound - Regis Road, NW5 3EW and 13-15 Guilford Street, WC1N 1DW