Tower Hamlets strike called off after turnout for union ballot is too low

The contract changes affect staff working across Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke

The contract changes affect staff working across Tower Hamlets Council. - Credit: Mike Brooke

Possible strike action in Tower Hamlets has been cancelled after too few employees turned up to vote on the matter.

Although the "overwhelming majority" of Tower Hamlets Council staff who did cast a ballot were in favour of industrial action, organisers Unison said the minimum 50 per cent turnout needed to go ahead was narrowly missed.

It comes amid a fire and rehire dispute which Unison says is in danger of reducing employment rights. 

They say the new Tower Rewards contract offered during the first coronavirus lockdown includes cuts to severance pay and travel allowance.

A spokesperson for the union said the organisation was “devastated” by the low turnout, which it claims was affected by the difficulties of members receiving ballot papers.

Branch secretary John McLoughlin said: “We are aware that many members had problems in receiving ballot papers, made worse by the impact of Covid on postal deliveries.

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“It is a scandal that politicians elected on less than 50 per cent turnouts restrict workers’ rights in this way, and that a Labour mayor, elected on a 41 per cent turnout, relies on Tory laws to help impose contracts.”

Tower Hamlets Council has been contacted for comment.

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