CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Abused parking wardens appeal for help in pay talks

Civil Enforcement Officer left with stitches after being beaten with a chain in Swiss Cotttage

19 July, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Unison rep John Mann outlines his concerns to councillors

A PARKING warden was left with stitches to multiple wounds after being struck with a bike chain by an angry moped rider, the Town Hall heard on Monday.

The abuse faced on the streets by wardens – officially known as civil enforcement officers – was outlined for councillors as union reps appealed for help in negotiating a pay rise.

Unison convenor John Mann told an all-member meeting: “It is a very difficult role. Two of them have been in hospital in the last two months after serious physical attacks and that’s not a rarity. But on a daily basis, they face verbal abuse. They are spat at. They are called awful names, probably due to the majority of the workforce being black Africans. There is a lot of racial abuse.”

His account was supported by Labour councillor Leo Cassarani, who reported one shocking attack. “There was an incident in Swiss Cottage two weeks ago where a traffic warden was struck seven times with a chain that someone used to lock a moped. He had to be hospitalised,” said Cllr Cassarani. “Thankfully, it seems like he will recover, but there were multiple stitches to several wounds on his head and it’s clearly a horrific attack. I want to express my solidarity.”

Unison convenors say wardens, who work for Town Hall contractor NSL, have been locked into a salary of £10 an hour, the London Living Wage rate plus 25p per hour.

Mr Mann told the chamber he wanted Camden to be ready to support the wardens in pay talks which he said had the prospect of strike action. “The danger of the London Living Wage is that, while you get a minimum wage, it in effect becomes the maximum wage. What NSL appears to be looking at here is the maximum they can earn is the London Living Wage plus 25p,” he said. “Very few of our members can afford to live anywhere near Camden. The vast majority have to live in other parts of London and travel in long distances, and have been affected by massive increases in fares.”

Mr Mann said NSL enforcement officers were paid more in Waltham Forest. Labour environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison told the Unison deputation: “I would urge you, if there is the possibility, to go to Acas [the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] to take this up. You’ve already indicated you’ve urged NSL to do that. That’s the place where you will be able to get the best possible deal for the duration of this contract and to start to deal with the scourge of low pay within this contract.”

He added that Camden had taken a step forward by demanding all its contractors paid the London Living Wage as contracts came up. The parking enforcement contract would be reviewed when it comes up for tender in the next two years, he said.

Mark Hoskin, NSL’s managing director, said “it has offered a three-year deal comprising a 4.5 per cent pay increase this year, much higher than other public sector pay deals.”

She added: “This is also 100 per cent above anything that local authority workers have been awarded through the National Joint Council agreement.  NSL has also committed to continue paying at least £0.25 an hour more than the London Living wage over the second and third years of the deal.”

She said the company was willing to go to Acas for discussion.

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