by Unite members in le/1111 housing workers branch
Hestia’s striking housing support workers, together with Hounslow parking attendants, held a loud and enthusiastic lobby outside Hounslow council cabinet meeting on 21 February. The workers are calling on the Labour council to intervene positively to resolve their disputes.
The two sets of workers have a lot in common. Both are outsourced labour, both are low paid, both are overworked, and both have been given the runaround by the council. But crucially, both sets of workers are also organised in a fighting union, Unite.
The workers have a lot in common with each other but they have nothing in common with the council’s well-heeled cabinet members who, last year, awarded themselves increases in their allowances between 47-56%!
Incredibly, the councillors justified their increase by saying that their allowances were not set at a realistic level and had not been properly updated since 2010. That is exactly what the strikers are saying, whose salaries are a fraction of these councillors’ allowances!
The strikers have clearly pointed out this hypocrisy. If the councillors can award themselves such huge increases then they should be prepared to intervene in these disputes to ensure those workers get a fair pay rise. If their private-sector employers refuse to agree to this, both sets of workers should be taken back in-house, on fair pay and with decent conditions.
On 28 February, Unite and other activists protested at the full council meeting, aiming to force the full council to act in the interests of these workers.
Unite and its supporters have written to the council to remind them that Unite is a major funder of Labour and is affiliated to them. As such, Unite has a right to expect that Labour in power should act in the interests of our members.
If the Labour council fails in its task, it will be further evidence that the councillors should be replaced with genuine workers’ representatives. Unite should seriously consider funding alternative candidates rather than continuing to fund a party which supports bullying, low-paying bosses.