THERE were high spirits on the parking services workers’ picket line outside Ealing Town Hall in west London yesterday morning, with dhol drummers keeping up a constant beat, which was answered by hoots of support from passing cars and buses.
The 47 Unite members are on strike again today and next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday against the privateer Serco, demanding that it be sacked by Ealing Council and that they are brought back in-house.
Striker and Unite member Harjinder Nagi told News Line: ‘We’re doing well. The council can see that we’re not going away and that we’ve got the support of the local community.
‘They need to stop wasting ratepayers’ money by outsourcing public services to profiteering companies like Serco.
‘It’s a false economy anyway. They are paying out millions of pounds over the course of the contract to Serco which is pocketing the money, eroding the quality of the service and at the same time attacking our working conditions.’
Unite Regional Officer Clare Keogh told News Line: ‘Our leading rep Patrice was suspended late last month after an Ealing Council officer intervened in the dispute by asking to have him removed from the contract.
‘We launched a petition directed at the council and the new leader of Ealing Labour Council called an urgent meeting with us. After that it was agreed that they would rescind the request to have him removed. This was a victory and he was back to work within a week.
‘We’ve got another meeting with the council next week and we’ve also got conciliation with Serco at ACAS in the next two weeks.
‘But so far none of our demands have been met. We want a new absence management policy and we want the managers who are going after our union and members removed.’
Striker and Unite member Michael Lester said: ‘It’s all going well at the moment. The strike is getting stronger every day and we mean to get stronger still.
‘Our message to Ealing Council is that they should be supporting us. We are dealing with members of the public every day and the respect we get from residents and members of the community we don’t get from the employer or the council. This is very wrong.
‘We want the council to open its eyes, sack Serco and take us back in-house now. Otherwise this will go on and on. We will fight on until we get what we need.’