Strike by Tower Hamlets council’s 'help assessors' over contracts dispute

Tower Hamlets Council staff on strike this week outside town hall

Tower Hamlets Council staff on strike this week outside town hall - Credit: Unite TU

Council staff who help East End pensioners live independently have gone on strike over their jobs being contracted out.    

Members of the local government trade union Unite have slammed Tower Hamlets Council for plans regarding its initial assessment team - staff who are the first point of contact at the town hall for pensioners and the disabled.

The dispute is about council employees' contracts, which are set to be transferred to a new service run by Age UK East London pensioners' charity. 

The team downed tools until Friday, July 16.     

“Age UK does a good job, but our members are part of a wider team with a specialised service,"  Unite’s regional officer Ruth Hydon said.    

“The initial assessment team members have decades of experience between them — it will be the elderly who rely on the service who will suffer.”     

The staff would be employed by Age UK under transfer regulations, but Unite alleges that the council promised they would remain council employees.   

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Tower Hamlets Council refutes claims of employment contracts being ended, with an assurance that “no staff are being made redundant". 

Its spokesperson said: "They all have a job in the new service run by Age UK East London with their employment conditions protection on transfer."  

But Unite points out that the jobs are only guaranteed for 12 months under legislation, after which they could yet face redundancy from the charity.   

The proposed transfer to Age UK East London results from the council redesigning its health and social care service "supporting older and disabled people to remain independent by providing early help and coordinated advice". 

The five-day walk-out is the second in four weeks after a five-day stoppage in June.   

The council approached the staff last week to try and avert a second strike, but the union says it ended in a stalemate.  

So the staff who are the first point of contact at the town hall for pensioners and the disabled have walked out for the second time and are staying out for five days.