AFTER A highly effective two-day strike UNISON members, employed by Camden Council’s parking contractor NSL, have decided to put their case for a substantial pay rise and other improvements in their terms and conditions to members of the north London authority’s Cabinet on Wednesday evening (18 July). The UNISON branch has requested a deputation to address the Labour-controlled Cabinet about the dispute against the background of a report on the London Living Wage.
UNISON believes that virtually all of its 160 members, more than 80% of the workforce, struck last week. On both days picket lines at all six Camden NSL workplaces were loud and lively, with Wednesday’s action culminating in an early afternoon rally at Camden Town Hall, addressed by several members of UNISON’s National Executive Council. Messages of support have poured in from other from UNISON and other trade union branches across Britain including Falkirk, Bolton and Southampton, with several pledging financial support to the dispute.
UNISON branch organiser John Mann said, “We were pleasantly surprised by the support offered by members of the public to the pickets, who helped dispel the illusion that the workers were receiving a commission according to the number of tickets. Quite simply they don’t and their basic hourly rate is currently stuck at £8.09.”
Camden UNISON Branch Secretary said, “Despite generating millions in crucial revenue for Camden Council and braving the elements as well as abuse from the motoring public almost every working day, these workers still face the reality of chronically low pay in one of the world’s most expensive cities for housing and public transport. We are sceptical about NSL’s claim that it cannot afford to pay more, but in addition we’re calling on Camden’s Labour council to translate rhetorical concern for the low-paid into meaningful action.”
For further information, interview, etc please contact either George Binette (branch secretary) or John Mann (branch organiser) in the Camden UNISON branch office (details above).
NOTES TO EDITORS FOLLOW:
1. Camden UNISON is the largest recognised trade union in Camden Council with some 3,400 members among local authority employees, on outsourced council contracts and in the voluntary sector. In 2011 it became the first UNISON branch to gain recognition from NSL for purposes of collective bargaining on the grounds that well above 50% of the workforce was in membership.
2. NSL, formerly part of NCP, was split off from the rest of that company in 2008 and is currently controlled by a private equity firm. It is now the largest player in parking enforcement, both in Britain and across London, with 12 local authority contracts in the capital. It reported an operating profit of £9.98m for calendar year 2011.
3. Camden Council originally privatised parking enforcement functions at the start of the last decade on the basis of two contracts. In 2009 Camden Council, then under the control of a Liberal Democrat-Conservative administration, awarded a six-year contract to NSL, worth an estimated £44.6m over its life span.
4. The London Living Wage (LLW) is calculated on behalf of the Greater London Authority and Mayor of London’s office. It was last set in spring 2011 at £8.30 an hour – more than £2.20 above the present level of the National Minimum Wage. Camden Council’s ruling Labour group has introduced LLW as a minimum for all direct Council employees, but in contrast to its 2010 manifesto pledges there has been no movement towards LLW or indeed any improvements in pay and conditions for workers on outsourced contracts in the past two years.
Camden UNISON Branch Secretary
Mobile: 07905 826304/BlackBerry: 07557 563 044.