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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 June 2018

Housing strike against individualised pay enters week two

Tower Hamlets housing workers strike June 2018, photo Hugo Pierre

Tower Hamlets housing workers strike June 2018, photo Hugo Pierre   (Click to enlarge)

A Unison organiser

Tower Hamlets Community Housing workers are in their second week of strike action organised by public service union Unison. The housing association has imposed a new pay structure on the workers, and Unison members have rejected this.

The housing association was formed from former council estates in 2000 as a charity. But as land prices in the borough shoot up, it is increasingly looking to act as a commercial organisation.

The new pay structure that is not negotiated with the unions, but based on 'market testing'. Staff will not know which companies' information is used, what jobs they are compared to, or what other posts in the housing association are paid.

Strikers have rightly asked: if we don't know what other jobs are paid, how do we know our pay is fair?

With individualised pay, the company could get away with increasing the gender pay gap or paying black workers less for the same job. Tower Hamlets Community Housing will not even guarantee that future 'market testing' won't drive pay down!

The strike has increased the determination of Unison members to fight for fair pay. Selma, one of the strikers, said: "I would love to be able to support our residents. We're not able to do that because of the market mentality of the private sector.

"It's not why we joined Tower Hamlets Community Housing. We joined as a public sector organisation to serve our community and we're not being allowed to do this.

"This is not what is happening at the moment. Our residents are not happy and we're not able to assist. We don't want this situation to continue."

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