Drivers and passenger assistants, who take disabled children to and from school in Hackney, are being balloted for strike action in the continuing failure of council bosses to recognise their efforts as key workers during the pandemic.

Unite said Hackney council in east London has ‘brushed off’ the union’s repeated attempts to gain recognition for its members’ role as key workers during the continuing Covid crisis.

Now the 37 drivers and passenger assistants will be balloted from Monday 1 November on whether they wish to take strike action. The ballot closes on Tuesday 30 November.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members taking disabled children to and from school have had long-running issues with this authority over its poor employment practices.

“Unite is determined to advance the jobs, pay and conditions of its members working for Hackney council. The council must recognise its failings and deal with them.”

The issues include the failure to pay the yearly lump sum payment of £381 in full and not increasing it; the failure to agree a Covid hazard payment; the failure to take the necessary health and safety measures, including the failure to provide proper toilet facilities. There is also no uniform provision and no relocation allowance for workers forced to move. 

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Covid cases are again rising to worrying levels and our members deserve recognition for working in this high risk environment.

“Any indictment of Hackney council’s employment practices would be a long one. The continual and insulting brush off from the management to union members has led to this strike ballot. Union members have had enough.”


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.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

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Unite is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, dedicated to defending and improving members' jobs, pay and conditions. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.