Protesting workers in wage war with Hackney Council

Protest outside Hackney Town Hall on December 2

A protest - centring around the alleged deduction of workers' wages - has taken place in the last hour at Hackney Town Hall - Credit: Sally Patterson

A demonstration has taken place outside Hackney Town Hall every day this week as the council stands accused of cutting the wages of two of its workers.

This afternoon - Thursday, December 2 - around 50 Hackney Council workers came together to show support for two of their colleagues,  who claim their wages have been reduced since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Protest outside Hackney Town Hall today, December 2

L-R: Togo Harrison and Dylan McEvoy - both workers claim Hackney Council has docked their wages - Credit: Sally Patterson

The Gazette spoke to the workers' union representative, Unite's Steve Edwards, who shed some light on this unfolding situation.

"We all work on a pay-on-productivity scheme, so we get paid based on the jobs we do," said Steve.

"When the pandemic struck, a lot of people understandably didn't want to let us in their houses; we had problems getting materials to do the jobs, so our pay would've been affected."

Unite Convener for Hackney Council

Unite Convener for Hackney Council, Steve Edwards - Credit: Sally Patterson

Tigo Harrison and Dylan McEvoy, the workers whose wages have reportedly been cut, are part of a team of around 150 in the council's housing and maintenance department.

Dylan, who has worked for the council for 25 years, said: "We worked throughout the pandemic, going into people's houses which was a massive risk, and then we had our wages deducted.

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"It really gets you down."

Council worker of 15 years Tigo added: "It's just been really unfair. We kept doing our jobs when most people were working from home."

According to Steve, an agreement was reached with the local authority to ensure workers' wages weren't reduced during the pandemic.

This agreement has mostly "held", he says, save for the two workers above who he claims remain affected by the deductions.

Hackney Council has questioned Unite's decision to protest in this way. 

"We are disappointed that the unions have chosen to hold demonstrations outside the town hall when we are committed to having an open dialogue, and proactively work with them and their members," said Cllr Clayeon McKenzie.

The cabinet member for housing services added: "Hackney Council has investigated the grievances and followed legal procedure.

"This has been communicated to union officials so I am disappointed that they have still decided to take this course of action."

Council officers have committed to meeting with the unions to discuss the concerns they have raised.