Camden strikers are determined to win

Striking traffic wardens in Camden, north London, are calling for a big solidarity turnout on the picket line as they reach 50 days of their indefinite action on Monday.

“We want delegations and support to boost the fightback as the eighth week of strike starts,” Unison union branch secretary Liz Wheatley told Socialist Worker. “It’s going to confirm to NSL that we are not giving up and this strike is going to win.”

Liz said that last Thursday saw  “the best picket line yet, nobody is taking a backward step”.

A striker at the mass meeting afterward said, “It was like a carnival on the picket line today. We’re out until we win.”

Liz added, “People are joining the strike all the time. Someone came back from maternity leave and went straight to the picket. Someone came back from holiday and went straight to the picket line. Someone returned from sick leave and went straight to the picket. This is because of the defiant mood the strike has created.”

The traffic wardens are demanding that their NSL outsourcer bosses increase pay to £15.90 an hour. And they want the Labour council to put the pressure on NSL.

Last month NSL released its 2022 accounts. They showed profits up from £5.8 million to £9.2 million. And the top boss grabbed a wage rise up 60 percent to £412,000 or £221 an hour.

Unison says it would take one of the traffic wardens 16 years to earn the same amount the director pockets in one year. 

Camden Unison says, “It’s about time the council sorted this out. Why are they letting private companies make profits and give their directors a huge pay rise while refusing to pay these workers properly?”

The council is under pressure to tell NSL to make a better pay offer. It is losing massive amounts of money because the street wardens are not issuing tickets. But also the CCTV team is out and that cuts off income normally brought in from remotely-issued penalties.

NSL frequently tangles with its workforce. GMB union members were out for 19 days earlier this year before settling in Kensington & Chelsea. And three days of strikes, including the day of the coronation, hit NSL in Westminster.

It pays very different rates in various London boroughs, depending largely on the militancy and determination to fight of its workers.

A victory in Camden would be a boost for all NSL workers and the rate won in Camden could become a target for all. Success would also show low paid workers everywhere that it is possible to organise, fight and win.  

London trade unionists should make a big effort to join Monday’s picket. And Unison at every level must make this indefinite strike a priority. It needs to become a national focus and see regular visits from general secretary Christina McAnea and other top officials.

Camden traffic wardens’ solidarity picket. Monday 11 September, 8am-9am, Guilford Street, WC1N 1DW
Contact with solidarity messages and to find out how else you can help

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