By New Worker correspondent
In the north London borough of Camden traffic wardens have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action over pay and claims they are constantly monitored by bosses having to log their location every five minutes.
They are employed by contractor NSL (the former National Car Parks) which is hired by over 60 local authorities and ironically has Investors in People accreditation.
However the Civil Enforcement Officers, to give them their Sunday name, have a grim time.
A majority of them are black and suffer racist and physical abuse from irate motorists. The local branch of Unison said they are subject to “invasive” level of checks. One warder told the Camden New Journal: “If you want to go to the toilet, you have to log it. If you are going to buy water, you have to log it. If you want to sit down to rest your feet, you have to log it. If you forget, it’s a disciplinary.” The bosses say this is to protect the workers from attacks and to confirm time and place of penalties.
Another warden was hospitalised after being attacked by a chain used to lock motor cycles.
Last year the council received £26 million in “surplus” from parking tickets, which is ring-fenced to be spent on transport projects. Little of this goes to the warders. They presently earn £10 an hour, short of the London Living Wage of £10.20.
Speaking on behalf of the local Unison branch chair Liz Wheatley, said: “In today’s society it is pretty scandalous, especially in a borough like Camden that professes to have ethical employment practises and ethical procurement, that we can end up with a predominantly black, low-paid workforce forced to have to take strike action every single time they want to try and get a pay increase.”
Earlier this year, in the neighbouring borough of Hackney 40 traffic wardens in a pay dispute with their employers APOCA Parking went of a 48 hour strike. This was over demands for a five percent pay increase. They too were only on the London Living Wage. At the time Unite official said “These workers, out in all weathers, only get the LLW uprate each year. So instead of being the minimum that employers should pay, the LLW becomes the maximum” before adding “We are arguing that each April there should be proper pay negotiations – with the aim of taking workers above the LLW”.
The fact that the minimum wage has become the maximum is exactly what the New Communist Party warned about when in the early days of the Blair government it was offered as a crumb to the unions by New Labour.