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A two-week walkout in Tower Hamlets takes on housing bosses over pay

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Issue 2607
On the picket line in Tower Hamlets
On the picket line in Tower Hamlets (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Housing workers are fighting attacks on pay in Tower Hamlets, east London.

Some 20 strikers picketed both entrances of the Tower Hamlets Community Housing (THCH) office on Monday at the start of their two-week strike.

A rally heard from councillors, trade unionists and housing workers.

The estate cleaners, who voted 100 percent to strike, are paid an average of £21,000 a year and manage over 3,000 properties. They keep the bins emptied, green spaces litter free, as well as sweeping and mopping communal areas.

THCH bosses want to impose “market based” pay on the workers.

Previously the Unison union members had been on the NJC local government pay scale.

The “market based” pay will mean pay grades are decided every two years by a private consultancy firm, Inbucon.

Strikers said the pay fight is part of resistance to wider attacks on the service.

Peter has worked there for eight years. He said he is striking because “the new regime has meant so many changes”.

“It’s been one thing after another, and it’s finally come to a head,” he said. “When I started working here, it was a nice company to work for.”


Roshan, who has been an estate cleaner for over 12 years, said the changes meant “an air of uncertainty”.

“Morale has been down and people are crying in the toilets,” he added. “They’re proposing cuts to our Saturday hours. Where do you stop cutting?”

The cuts to Saturday working would slash pay by thousands of pounds. They would mean rubbish left uncollected.

Peter said workers decided to strike for two weeks because “a week wasn’t long enough”.

“We want residents to complain, and for the phone to be ringing because nothing’s getting done,” he said.

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Yes To Fair Pay Unison public meeting—Tue 12 June, 4.15pm, Oxford House, Derbyshire St, London E2 6HG

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