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Traffic wardens strike for sick pay
Chris Newby, London Socialist Party
With union banners waving, traffic wardens in Hackney, east London, began day one of a 48-hour walkout on 3 August. Members of general union Unite working for APCOA Parking are striking for proper sick pay and a decent raise.
For all these workers, this is the first strike they have ever been on. Sick pay is a critical issue for parking inspectors. Many have to work ten hours a day, out in all weathers, with only a one-hour break. They also suffer frequent abuse and assaults. Currently, they are paid only the statutory minimum.
Strikers are also angry at Hackney council, which gave the contract to APCOA Parking. Hackney is a Living Wage employer, yet workers are not getting a decent pay rise.
As a result of the union's determined stand, membership has reached over 90% of directly employed staff and up to 20% of agency workers. In the ballot, 100% voted to walk out. Still management completely underestimated workers' determination, thinking only a few would strike.
Yet the stoppage is solid. Over 20 pickets were in a very determined mood, and running a very lively picket line. Even an agency worker who could face losing their job as a result of coming out was on the picket. This worker bought two copies of the Socialist.
One manager, normally all smiles, had a face like thunder when he saw the size of the line.
Socialist Party members visiting the picket line got a very warm response. All pickets took a leaflet for the National Shop Stewards Network lobby of TUC congress on 13 September.