Beleaguered Newham council is facing a second strike ballot over the way it treats a key group of workers, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Monday 15 April).

Unite said that 75 employees working in housing repairs are being balloted for strike action over a myriad of issues, including a plan to introduce a new pay structure which cuts pay by 20 per cent and pay deductions without speaking to the individuals concerned.

The ballot of the carpenters, electricians and plumbers begins on 23 April and closes on 22 May.

This follows last week’s revelation that 45 refuse workers will also be balloted for strike action over the council’s failure to progress them through the grading structure which should have commenced 12 years ago. Unite estimates that individuals could have lost up to £20,000 each as a result.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “It is becoming increasingly apparent that Newham council is beleaguered by a very poor employment relations culture – the results of which are coming home to roost.

“To paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell: for the council to have one strike ballot may be regarded as a misfortune; to have two looks like carelessness.

“Last week, Unite highlighted the appalling treatment of the refuse workers over the last decade and today we are focusing on the treatment of our members in housing repairs.

“They are faced with a proposal to introduce a new pay structure which axes pay by 20 per cent from 1 June this year; deductions from pay without speaking to staff first; and a culture of bullying.

“Our members have also been exposed to deadly asbestos during the course of their work. However, the council engaged a contractor who clearly had no idea how to deal with asbestos – its workmen were seen sweeping up dust.

“Unite is conducting these two strike ballots to defend the pay and health & safety of our members. However, Unite’s door is always open for constructive talks with the council’s management to resolve these issues and formulate a new positive model for employment relations.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065

Email: [email protected]

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.