Outsourced NSL traffic wardens in the north London borough of Camden are on their sixth week of all-out action—and they’re not retreating.
The Unison union strikers gathered at the Guilford Street picket line in central London on Thursday to leaflet in and around the Brunswick Estate. This is in the constituency of the Camden Labour councillor responsible for parking.
Strikers had drums and whistles that kept the picket lively. “The strike is going well,” Unison rep Farouk told Socialist Worker. “We’re getting stronger, especially with more people joining. On Tuesday a supervisor stopped working and joined us on strike.
“We don’t have anyone going back to work, only people coming out. We’ve also got people who have been on sick leave or maternity leave joining us too.
“The march last Saturday through Camden was great. And the leafleting should also increase pressure on NSL and the council. We’re getting a lot of public support.”
Farouk says NSL can’t function without the strikers, and it’s the council’s pockets that are hit when workers strike.
He added, “We get strike pay from the union, but it is less than we’d be paid normally, so some of us are struggling with debts or paying off credit cards.
“But we just have to keep each other motivated. Support financially and on the pickets from other trade unionists and the public is so important too.”
While on the picket line, the NSL contract manager told strikers that he couldn’t resolve the dispute as “it’s above his pay grade”. Camden Unison branch chair Liz Wheatley said, “We’re not drawing back just because NSL hasn’t responded.
“We’re more determined to stay out. And if this dispute is above his pay grade, we’ll be asking the council why they bother to pay him.
“We’re going to pressure the council to get involved even though it claims this dispute has nothing to do with it. And we want people around the country to keep emailing in to the council to add to that pressure.”
Striker Kamal also told Socialist Worker that the strikers remain “firm” in their demand for a pay rise to £15.90 an hour. “We’ve built a good group and remain strong, as long as we stay as a collective,” he said.
“Camden council might think it’s saving money by outsourcing, but right now it’s getting nothing.
“NSL is a huge firm that only cares about making money. Our wages are nothing, they’re not enough, especially not in London.
Unison nationally needs to back this strike all the way. There should be a national appeal for donations and visits to the picket line. Unison’s general secretary and other top officials should be there prominently and frequently.
The unions should be looking to trigger other battles against NSL simultaneously with Camden.
The traffic wardens are not only battling against low pay, they’re fighting racist outsourcing practices, greedy corporate bosses and a council that wants to ignore its responsibilities.
Messages of support to email@example.com Picket lines 7‑10am each day: Regis Road, NW5 3EW, 199 Belsize Road NW6 4AA, 13‑15 Guilford St WC1NOriginal post