Hackney staff threaten to strike after council tries to bring in weekend work in response to coroner row

The registration services team are threatening to go on strike

The registration services team are threatening to go on strike - Credit: Marvin Hay

Weddings in Hackney could face disruption this summer as town hall staff threaten to strike – in a knock-on effect of the row over the coroner’s working hours.

The registration services team are threatening to go on strike

The registration services team are threatening to go on strike - Credit: Marvin Hay

Weddings in Hackney could face disruption this summer as town hall staff threaten to strike – in a knock-on effect of the row over the coroner’s working hours.

Hackney Council mooted plans for mandatory weekend working during the legal row over whether deaths in the Jewish and Muslim communities should be given priority because of a religious need for same-day burials.

Last month the High Court ruled the north east London coroner’s decision not to prioritise them was unlawful.

Council staff say the service already offered to faith groups, where burials need to take place quickly, is adequate. A weekend standby service is currently manned on a voluntary basis for issuing burial forms for bodies to be removed out of England.


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But the council maintains it wants to change staff contracts to make it compulsory to work weekends.

A day of strikes is planned for Wednesday next week after they voted unanimously for action.

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A spokesman for Unison said: “If staff take strike action, this would have a direct effect on all wedding ceremonies that have been booked over the summer months, as well as the registration of births and the issuing of death certificates for burials.

“If staff strike it would mean any birth that means to be registered on one day would be registered on another day. There would be a massive backlog, essentially.

“In terms of weddings, for ceremonies, if the council is unable to arrange them without the use of the registrars, it might mean some ceremonies might not run any more.

“The council want to bring about fundamental changes to staff terms and conditions, but in our opinion and that of our members, weekends are sacrosanct.

“It’s registration services today and it could easily be another service tomorrow.

“We have a right to maintain a suitable work-life balance in the spirit of Hackney’s promotion of health and wellbeing for its staff and the wider community.”

A Hackney Council spokesman said: “We have been in discussion with registrars over a number of months about changes to some registrars’ contracts.

“The changes would see them on call at home for two hours a day over five weekends a year in case they need to register a death for same-day burials taking place for religious reasons.

“We will continue to work with staff towards a resolution to these discussions. Should industrial action take place, contingency plans will be put in place to ensure services run as normal.”

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