Council’s HR team fights to stop strike action

Hackney Council’s HR team has hit the streets to combat the threat of strike
action over new contracts for street cleaning staff.

The GMB, T&G and Unison unions have accused the local authority of
threatening to fire their refuse and street cleaning workforce if they fail to
accept new pay and conditions, and the unions are now threatening industrial
action.

To address these concerns, the council’s HR team has gone on ‘road shows’ to
the cleaning depot to speak to on-duty staff on a one-to-one basis.

Terry McDougall, assistant chief executive of HR at Hackney, said:
"Employees are more comfortable speaking with HR representatives personally
and at the same time it allows the team to listen to individual concerns more
effectively."

As a result of this approach, she said 55 out of the 73 street sweepers in
the borough have now accepted the new terms.

The unions are to ballot more than 270 staff for strike action, and claim
that new contracts will cut wages by up to £60 a week, with failure to accept
new terms resulting in workers being fired on the 23 December.

Unison representative, Eddy Coulson said: "Throwing loyal staff on the
dole is some Christmas present and is not something we will allow to
happen."

McDougall said the changes were standard ‘terminate and re-engage’
contracts, which brought the refuse service in line with other council
services. She said the union line was "harsh, emotive and
regrettable".

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