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Thousands of council workers are set for Tower Hamlets strike

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Issue 2696
Tower Hamlets workers united during previous action
Tower Hamlets workers united during previous action

Around 4,000 workers in Tower Hamlets, east London, are set to strike on Tuesday of next week.

The action will hit all local authority schools and the Labour-run council.

Unison and NEU union members are fighting the council’s attempts to force workers to accept worse terms and conditions under its “Tower Rewards” scheme.

Council bosses said they are going to sack and re-engage workers on worse contracts in April.

Unison member Tom told Socialist Worker, “We are outraged that the council is doing the Tories’ dirty work rather than seeking to defend the borough and its workforce.

“With jobs in peril at the moment we need to strike in order to defend out hard-won conditions.

Coronavirus means we can’t have a rally or demonstration, but we will try to make the strike as collective as possible.”

An open letter from the two unions to the council’s chief executive said, “You have falsely claimed that Unison has refused to engage on Tower Rewards.

“You have not met once with trade unions to try to resolve the dispute.

“Unison and NEU have always been willing to meet to discuss how to resolve this dispute.

“This has taken on a new urgency with the emergence of the coronavirus crisis.

“Trade unions want to be part of serious discussions about how we provide the maximum assurance and protection for staff and our community through this unprecedented situation.

“We are therefore calling on you to withdraw the imposition of the Tower Rewards proposals on 13 April to remove the need for us to strike. Without this assurance we will have to proceed with action.”

A strike next Tuesday would unite with the bin workers’ action (see below).

Further strikes are scheduled for 1 and 2 April.

Bin workers set to take on rubbish employers

Bin workers in Tower Hamlets, east London, are preparing for another round of strikes against outsourcer Veolia.

Around 250 Unite union members rounded off an eight-day walkout over holiday pay at 3am on Monday. They are demanding that subcontractor Veolia pays up as much as £9,000 in unpaid wages.

Terry, a Unite senior shop steward, told Socialist Worker that “morale is as high as ever”.

“If there are no successes with management, we’ll be back on the line,” he said.

Strikes could take place from Tuesday of next week, until the workers are taken back in house at the end of the month.


Workers mounted mass picket lines—and blocked managers, scabs and lorries from moving in and out.

On Wednesday of last week, one report said that the fuse box for management’s building was “half way to Tilbury” in Essex.

Bosses tried to undermine picketing by using staff and lorries from Veolia contracts in other London boroughs.

But Terry explained that bosses didn’t have enough lorries at other depots and staff from other contracts “are reluctant to come down to our depot because they know the situation”.

Workers will picket at the Solvocea Way in Canning Town and Southern Grove in Bow.

Trade unionists should build solidarity for their fight in workplaces and union branches and join them on the picket lines.

Meanwhile, around 120 refuse workers in Bexley in south east London were set to walk out on Wednesday.

The Unite union members are fighting for pay equality with workers in the neighbouring borough of Greenwich who earn up to £4 an hour more.

They also want full sick pay and an end to zero hour contracts from subcontractor Serco.

Workers plan to mount picket lines from 5am at the Thames Road Waste transfer station in Dartford.

lMessages of support to [email protected]

nAround 180 bin workers in the Wirral, Merseyside, are being balloted for strikes over pay.

The Unite union members, who work for subcontractor Biffa, should vote yes in the ballot that ends on Wednesday of next week.

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