Tower Hamlets council workers set to strike from Friday

Tower Hamlets Council's talks with Unison have broken down. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets Council's talks with Unison have broken down. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Archant

Thousands of Tower Hamlets council staff are set to strike over new contracts unions claim will leave lower paid workers worse off.

Some 4,000 council workers will walk out for three days starting on Friday, July 3 after talks with unions broke down.

Strikers are opposing the town hall’s new Tower Rewards Package, which unions say would see thousands of workers potentially worse off and include cuts to travel allowances and out of hours payments.

Current employment contracts will end on July 6 and employees switched to Tower Rewards. Those who don’t sign the new contracts will be sacked, Unison claims.

The union said the changes will have a “disproportionate effect on Black and women workers” and claimed the council has failed to undertake a thorough equality impact assessment of its plans.

Tower Hamlets Unison branch secretary John Mcloughlin said: “Tower Rewards is a fundamentally flawed programme that increases the pay of the top earners while penalising the bulk of the workforce. The council needs to listen to staff concerns and reverse its decision.”

Staff had been due to strike in March and April but called off the plans because of the pandemic. Last week mediators ACAS were brought in but no agreement was met.

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A Tower Hamlets Council spokesman said: “We have been consulting with our staff and trade unions about changes to terms and conditions since January 2019. Our aim has always been to reach a collective agreement. This had not been possible in our meetings with both local and regional officials, so we asked ACAS to work with all parties to support conciliation.

“Talks took place on Thursday, June 18. It is hugely disappointing that these did not result in a resolution and that Unison has now issued a formal notice of intent to strike. We remain hopeful that unnecessary strike action can be avoided, especially during the current pandemic.”