Hackney council housing workers on strike 3 May, photo Chris Newby
Hackney council housing workers on strike 3 May, photo Chris Newby

Hackney Socialist Party members

Hackney Council Unite members are continuing their action on pay. On the fifth day of their strike against the Labour council, management called in police to a peaceful low-key picket of the SEND (special educational needs and disability) passenger transport garage. 

Striking workers looked on in amazement as a number of police vehicles with flashing blue lights rushed through the narrow streets at 5.30am.

They had been called because a car had been approached by pickets about supporting the action. A manager instructed the driver to get out, which left his vehicle blocking the road. It wasn’t lost on the workers that the police appeared in moments.

These two police officers were intent on getting this vehicle into the depot, but only succeeded in blocking part of the exit for a queue of SEND buses waiting to get out of the depot. The pickets and their supporters wanted to speak to the drivers about the dispute. Suddenly, one of the drivers accelerated, looking like he wanted to burst through and over the picket line.  

This embarrassed the police, who had claimed that they were protecting the peace, presumably from the pickets! It seemed that the driver was stepped down and a manager took over the bus. We understand that the head of HR has subsequently apologised to people who complained of being hit.

A few hours later, at the end of the picket, strikers were in good spirits, knowing that the morning’s action had sent another strong signal that they are determined to win the pay rise they deserve.

After reviewing the six days of strike action, and in the face of management intransigence, Unite is looking to expand the dispute. It will be balloting parking enforcement officers who were brought back into the council from a private company in April this year, but have not been placed on council terms and conditions. The fight continues.