Socialist Worker

Strikers in Camden win pay rise off outsourcer

Traffic wardens show that striking can get results after forcing bosses into paying up, reports Sarah Bates

Issue No. 2658

Traffic wardens won because of determined action

Traffic wardens won because of determined action (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Strikes by determined traffic wardens in Camden, north London, have scored a huge victory against outsourcing fat cats.

Around 130 Unison union members struck for 33 days for a pay rise and changes to safety procedures.

Strikers are hailing the news as a “significant improvement”.

The workers are outsourced to parking giant NSL. Strikes in 2015 won workers a pay deal worth 25p an hour above the London Living Wage.

But after the London Living Wage rose to £10.55 an hour, the firm refused to raise pay.

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

Workers have now won a pay rate of £11.08 for the lowest paid and improvements to the “code red” policy—where workers are injured or are attacked while at work.

Strikers voted by an ­overwhelming majority to accept the new three-year deal which will give them at least £1,000 extra every year.

Crucially, the new deal also incorporates the “attendance” bonus into the new basic pay rate.

Striker David told Socialist Worker that “bosses used the bonus as an instrument of control.

When you are sick, you have to come in or they take your bonus.

“It means people who are ­genuinely sick lose a whole month’s bonus and stress levels go up and up.” Workers are so low paid that they have to work overtime just to survive.

But working outside in all weathers and with minimal rest breaks mean workers are often ill, and staff turnover is high.

Crucial

Liz Wheatley, Camden Unison branch secretary, said 33 days of walkouts were crucial in securing victory.

“Without strikes we never would have won this offer—this is a great win for our members.”

And Liz said action by the predominantly black workforce, many of them migrants, is evidence that “migrant workers don’t lower wages—they’re pulling wages up”.

A likely next step for outsourced workers is for their contracts, and the parking service, to be brought back in house to Camden council.

Workers want council terms, conditions and pay rates—and may have to strike again to get them.

“The struggle continues, all the employers care about is profits,” said David.

Raking

“They are raking it in—NSL creams off profits from the money it is given from Camden council for our contracts.”

Traffic wardens employed by NSL also struck in Wandsworth, south London and Westminster, central London, earlier this year.

David thinks Camden’s success means other NSL workers could be inspired to strike again.

“We’re happy that we’ve come to end of our strike but it will be having an impact on other branches—they will be looking at our action,” he said.

Every worker should be inspired by the Camden traffic wardens. They have showed that striking works.

David is a pseudonym

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