Uniting workers and communities in the London Borough of Camden
A CCTV operator on Camden Council’s parking enforcement contract with NSL now faces the possibility of a ‘gross misconduct’ charge after being quoted in the Camden New Journal as part of its coverage of the opening day of a two-day strike by some 160 UNISON members in an increasingly bitter dispute over pay and condition. The worker, who is 30 weeks pregnant and was due to start maternity leave in less than three weeks, was reportedly in a state of shock after attending an investigative interview with local managers on Thursday afternoon (19 July). She was among a group of strikers interviewed by local journalist Pavan Amara while proceeding to a lunch-time rally at Camden Town Hall on the first day of the strike action.
Camden UNISON branch secretary George Binette said, “We had hoped to restart talks as early as this Friday with NSL, but this latest development has rightly incensed members at the base and left us doubtful that the company is actually committed to resolving the dispute. Can we negotiate in good faith when such an atmosphere of intimidation prevails?”
The threat of action against the UNISON member came the day after a lively lobby of Camden’s Labour-controlled cabinet, which also heard a UNISON shop steward from the NSL contract tell councillors, “After 12 years as a privatised services the wages of Camden NSL workers still lag behind those of the handful of remaining ex-Camden parking staff by almost 30%. But we also have families to feed and this is very difficult to do in London on less than £18,000 a year.”
The Cabinet went on to ratify a report calling for the introduction of the London Living Wage (currently £8.30 an hour) on most outsourced contracts in the future, though not retrospectively. The current NSL parking enforcement contract is not due to end until 2015 and would not be affected. Branch secretary George Binette, “Much as we welcome this long overdue step by a Labour council elected on a manifesto pledge of introducing the London Living Wage more than two years ago the decision does nothing to address the real and immediate grievances of the borough’s traffic wardens. We must further ask if NSL really is the sort of company Camden Labour wants to be associated with.”
Following the strongly supported two-day walkout a mass meeting of 140 Camden NSL workers voted unanimously for further strike action, which could coincide with the Olympics, if the company does not offer significantly greater concessions.
For further information, interviews, etc please contact either George Binette (branch secretary) in the Camden UNISON branch office (details below).
Camden UNISON Branch Secretary
59 Phoenix Road, Brill
London NW1 1ES
TEL: 020 7974 1633/Mobile: 07905 826304/BlackBerry: 07557 563 044.