Camden parking wardens walk out in two day strike - and threaten to strike again during the Olympics
Parking wardens are out on strike today and yesterday in a bitter dispute over pay – and have threatened to walk out again during the Olympics if their demands are not met.
Trade union Unison claims that more than 120 members, nearly three quarters of the workforce, walked out over demands to increase their pay to �10 an hour.
Wardens brandishing union placards set up pickets outside every parking office in Camden as they chanted “Low pay, no way, NSL hear us say.”
Speaking from the picket line outside the headquarters in Holmes Road, Kentish Town, Unison branch secretary George Binette said: “If there isn’t significant movement towards our demands we will probably look at taking further strike action in the next two to three weeks.
“That could mean during the Olympics.”
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Contractors NSL, who run the service for Camden Council, said the pay claims represent an unaffordable 30 per cent rise.
They have drafted in back office supervisors and staff from Westminster and Lambeth to beef up their numbers to help them weather the two day walkout.
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Drivers in Hampstead welcomed the strike, which they joked left them with more freedom to park where they wanted.
Justin Rowlatt, a BBC journalist and father-of-four from Queen’s Crescent in Gospel Oak, said: “If I had known there going to be parking wardens I might have been tempted to park more freely.
“Wardens are like hunters, they are hunting for parking violations.
“But they also face a difficult job. I heard a warden on the phone in Queen’s Crescent two days ago and he was telling his boss he had been attacked.
“There is a lot of hypocrisy, people don’t want a ticket but they want the benefits that parking wardens bring.”
Josh Wilson, 30, who works at Amberden estate agents in South Hill Park, South End Green, said: “I work at a local business and the traffic wardens are ravenous. I think it is good to have a couple of days respite for the local businesses.”
An NSL spokesman said the company is prioritising road safety and traffic flow, and that the normal rules of the road would be enforced despite the strike.
He said: “It is disappointing that, against a background of public sector pay freezes, Unison has rejected the offer of a 10 per cent pay rise over three years for its members who will instead forfeit two days wages to participate in needless strike action.
“NSL has worked with Camden Council on contingency plans that will minimise the impact of the strike, enabling us to provide an effective parking enforcement service to the borough.”
The union called on the council to “turn its rhetoric about helping low paid workers into action” and intervene to resolve the dispute.