Socialist Worker

‘We won’t let the NSL bosses push us around,’ say strikers

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2641

Traffic wardens picketing in Camden on Monday

Traffic wardens picketing in Camden on Monday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Striking traffic wardens aren’t giving up on their fight for better pay—despite an insulting offer from bosses.

Around 130 Unison union members in Camden, north London, began the second week of their latest round of strikes on Monday.

The wardens—officially known as Civil Enforcement Officers—want £11.15 an hour, improved holiday allowance and better sick pay.

They voted overwhelmingly this week to reject the bosses’ latest offer that would have meant a pay rise of just 17p an hour for most workers.

And the deal would have increased the gap between traffic wardens and supervisors.

Laughed

Ross, a traffic warden for seven years, laughed when he heard the bosses’ meagre offer.

“It’s too low—it shows what they think of you. But we’re united, and we are one,” he told Socialist Worker.

The contract is run by outsourcing giant NSL which collects millions in permits and fines for Labour-run Camden council.

The parking contract is being re-tendered in 2020, and strikers want it to be brought back in house. CCTV worker Duncan said that being employed directly by the council would mean parity of pay, terms and conditions with other council workers.

“Traffic wardens in other boroughs, such as Hammersmith and Fulham, are paid £14 an hour,” he said. “It would be an end to arbitrary treatment from private contractors.”

Last week’s deal was rejected by some because it didn’t address other grievances about injury at work and holiday allowances. If workers are attacked or otherwise sustain an injury at work they are aren’t given additional time off with company sick pay.

“We’re outside walking for 8.5 hours a day,” said traffic warden Jenny.

“People can push you, there’s a lot of trouble. We get sick because of the weather.

“The way people look at us, and treat us, it’s just abuse. We put ourselves at risk every second we’re at work.”

Picketing

Strikers have picketed their local bases and Camden council headquarters. Striker Henry said picketing was important “because we want to show we’re solid and we’re not going back”.

“The offer was far lower than what’s expected,” he said. “But if members are willing to fight, then we can get there.”

Many workers have decided not to book in for overtime since the first strikes last October. By Sunday—the last day of strikes, workers will have struck for 33 days.

It’s a huge financial undertaking. But, said Duncan, “people are determined to see it through. Some people just don’t like to get pushed around.”

Camden striker Jenny pointed out the money is there—but it’s going straight to the bosses.

“NSL are able to give a 400 percent pay rise to a top director,” she said. “It’s not like the money isn’t there—they need to share the profit.”

NSL insists it is unable to increase holiday allowance as it has a company-wide policy of 20 days per year.

But strikers found an advert for an NSL role in Brighton advertising 28 holiday days, with the allowance increasing with long service.

Due to the Tory anti-union laws, workers will soon be pushed to reballot over whether to take more action.

They should vote to keep up their fight against fat cats robbing them of a decent wage.

Workers’ names have been changed.
Request a striker to speak at your union meeting and rush messages of support to unison@camden.gov.uk

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.