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Camden Unison - now offering support to colleagues in Tower Hamlets

London Unison branches support Tower Hamlets colleagues

IT IS BAD ENOUGH that the General Secretary of a national trade union has had to step in and point out it will support its members in Tower Hamlets, who are opposing the Labour Mayor’s plan to impose new contracts of employment on the entire Council workforce.

It is bad enough that Executive Mayor John Biggs risks going down in local history as the man who brought 19th century employer tactics back to the East London borough and united the Council workforce… against his plan.

Now it seems that John Biggs is risking his reputation being sullied across the whole of London, as Unison branches across the capital come out to show solidarity with their colleagues in Tower Hamlets. They oppose the measures being taken by this former Member of the Greater London Assembly to reduce pay and the terms and conditions of most of the Council workforce.

The imposition is now on hold until July, but there is growing unease over the new contracts, which would disproportionately affect the lowest paid Council workers and, therefore, women and BAME workers.

London branches expressed their concern at the May Day virtual rally called by Tower Hamlets Unison.
John from Barnet Unison brought solidarity to the Tower Hamlets workers from his union branch. He promised that the Barnet Unison branch would support the Tower Hamlets Unison members in what he called their “determined fight”.
Camden Unison had sent a message to the meeting which was read by the Chair of the Rally. Liz Wheatley, the Camden Branch Secretary, recalled that the Tower Hamlets Unison branch had supported the Camden branch when its traffic warden members were in dispute.  She promised that members in Camden would repay that support – saying that Tower Hamlets Unison is a beacon of what worker solidarity is all about.

This is very much an ongoing dispute, with Executive Mayor John Biggs having promised to impose the new contracts in July. While he has dubbed the scheme “Tower Rewards”, the unions have re-named it “Tower Robbery”. As there has been a failure to agree new contracts with the trade unions, Biggs will have to formally sack the entire workforce and allow workers to continue in their jobs only if they sign the new contracts.

Despite the lockdown, the timing gives Tower Hamlets’ 42 Labour Councillors plenty of time to telephone or email their Leader and dissuade him from taking this very unpopular action.  There are plenty of trade unionists in the borough and across London who will want to know what their fellow trade unionists are doing to sort this out.

At a time when public sector workers are being hailed as heroes, it seems absurd that Tower Hamlets should be going against public opinion and sacking the whole lot of them.

●Read more about it:
Brave councillors tell Biggs: think again on housing
Biggs deep in controversy over political use of parks

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