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Last minute discussions have failed to avert a walkout by over 2,000 members of Unison in Tower Hamlets, due to tak...
Last minute discussions have failed to avert a walkout by over 2,000 members of Unison in Tower Hamlets, due to take place tomorrow.

The strike, which involves all the council's employees, is in protest at new staffing procedures being introduced by the council. Unison claims these are very punitive and are being imposed without union agreement.

'The council is trying to make it easier to sack staff, for example when they are sick,' said Jean Geldart, branch secretary. 'The dispute is over the content of the new procedures and the way they are being imposed. We want to keep our existing rights, such as appeal to councillors over dismissals, length of warning periods, and protection arrangements.

'We are very willing to negotiate on all the issues and think it's ridiculous that the council has driven us into a strike situation over something which is irrelevant to the borough's residents.'

Discussions on Monday between the union, Helal Abbas, leader of the council and Christine Gilbert, new chief executive, failed to produce any agreement.

All council services will be affected by the strike, except for 'life and limb' services such as meals on wheels.

A press release from Tower Hamlets LBC follows:


The council's efforts to reduce levels of sickness and support staff in improving performance have met with the threat of strike action by some sections of the council's workforce. This could result in a reduced level of service, if industrial action goes ahead as planned this Thursday (February 28th).

District Audit is supportive of the council's modernisation of the personnel procedures which guide how staff are managed. Changes in employment law, and the government's drive to modernise local authorities and improve services to local people, also support this review of existing procedures.

Last year, the council consulted extensively on the proposed changes with the three main unions. Most points raised by the union representatives were taken on board. Only Unison has decided to press ahead with industrial action.

Christine Gilbert, chief executive of Tower Hamlets LBC, said: 'Our greatest asset is our workforce. They deserve the best management practices to support delivery of the best possible services. Our Community Plan gives us a clear message about what residents want us to do: we need to improve the quality of service we deliver to local people. Modernised personnel procedures will help us to achieve this.'

Six main procedures are being updated: the disciplinary code; capability; sickness management; grievance; discrimination and harassment; and redundancy and redeployment.

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