The Socialist 2 March 2001
Cough Up The Cash Gordon
Hackney council strike 7 March
HANDS OFF JOBS AND SERVICES
HACKNEY COUNCIL managing director, Max Caller has sent a ninety-day notice letter to all staff to change our terms and conditions. But public sector union, UNISON's solicitors say the letter is fatally flawed, 'invalid' and 'unlawful'.
Brian Debus, chair Hackney UNISON
This could open the council up to £ millions in tribunal claims if they do not withdraw the letters. The mood of the workforce is shown by gardeners at Haggerston Park, who had a three-hour sit-in to defend their shop steward who was sent home without pay. A new manager had tried to break the workers' decision not to cover some work, due to staff shortages.
Management had to climb down and agree no wage stoppages and the manager had to apologise to the steward!
Similarly some estate cleaners are refusing to cover for cleaners on holiday, sick leave etc. Management are threatening to dock bonus money in retaliation. This could escalate into a formal dispute and a tribunal challenge.
Lower-rung posts are being deleted whilst those further up the tree are increasing their salaries. The current acting finance director on £100,000 a year plus, is still apparently refusing to sign her new contract of employment because she wants a large guaranteed pay-off clause. The only allegiance Caller and his cronies have to Hackney are the fat pay cheques they receive.
The council's possible safety net of a £83 million property deal has all but fallen through. Meanwhile tenants and residents face rent rises, repair cuts and a council tax rise of at least £80, primarily due to private contractor ITNet's failing to collect in £15 million this year. ITNet are responsible for the non-collection of £39 million, 50% of the council's current financial crisis.
Also Hackney pays £65 million a year to service its debt to the banks. This is more than it collects in council tax.
At the same time councillors are contemplating increasing nursery charges to £150 a week while reducing nursery provision with 1,000 children on the waiting list. This is the Alice in Wonderland of economics and politics in Hackney.
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