Further disruption is likely at Ealing social services
department in west London as the council-wide dispute between
management and Unison rumbles on.
A strike called by Unison last week led to three day centres
closing for the day. Unison claimed that 1,000 workers from all
departments responded to the strike call - the council said the
real figure was under 400.
The dispute centres on Ealing's attempt to add an hour to the
standard working week for many of its white-collar staff. The
council claims it is entitled to do this under the terms of a
national agreement but Unison says the agreement is to level
standard hours down, not up.
Moves by Unison in March to take the issue to arbitration came
to nothing because, according to Unison, the council refused to
attend necessary preliminary meetings. Ealing said Unison called a
strike without waiting for the outcome of arbitration.
Stephen Barton, one of Unison's negotiation team, said: "We told
Ealing, that if they made a reasonable case for exemption [of
social services] we were prepared to give it sympathetic
consideration. They didn't get back to us.
"Most of my members are low paid members of staff - they can't
afford to lose pay by going on strike. But they are very angry."
Strikes are planned throughout the summer.