Drivers of school buses for Hackney’s disabled kids to strike for four days in pay row with council

The town hall's Living in Hackney Scrutiny Commission heard from gangs experts. Picture: Ken Mears

The town hall's Living in Hackney Scrutiny Commission heard from gangs experts. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Drivers and passenger escorts on Hackney’s school buses for disabled children will strike for four days in the coming weeks over split shift payments.

Union Unite said its 33 members will walk out on March 19 and 26 as well as April 2 and 4. Hackney Council has now urged parents to make other transport arrangements for those days.

The dispute centres on a £50 a week claim for compensation for the split shifts, backdated to July when the issue was raised. Unite say it is based on the next grade in the Green Book national agreement which the union believes is the correct one for the workers.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The last thing our members want is to cause the children any distress. However, council bosses have adamantly refused to negotiate for the last nine months and, in Unite’s opinion, are playing on the decency and humanity of our members that they won’t strike.

“But ‘enough is enough’, as our members have to live in one of the world’s most expensive cities. If these strikes go ahead because of the authority’s continued intransigence, the blame will be at its door.

“The impact of the strikes will be significant as Unite represents the majority of drivers and passenger escorts - and the council cannot run the service without our members.

“That said, Unite’s door for talks is open for realistic and constructive negotiations.”

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Hackney Council insists its contracts for the workers is better than they would get at other councils.

Families chief Cllr Chris Kennedy said: “Our SEND transport workers do a brilliant job and we really value them.

“We are unable, under existing pay structures, to offer enhanced payments - that mechanism just doesn’t exist. We have to stick to our pay structure to maintain fairness across all our staff. We’ve explained this in the course of several meetings with the union.”

Cllr Kennedy said he expected a “small number” of staff to strike, but the council is asking parents to make other arrangements to take their children to and from school.

“If anyone is unable to do that, we’re asking them to contact us to see if there’s anything we can do to help on the day, but this likely to be very limited,” he added.