Council Accused of Helping 'Hound' Union Rep Out of Job

Serco employee said parking revenue would be lost during strike

Ealing's three MPs join Serco employees protesting outside Ealing Town Hall. Picture: James Murray

Ealing Council have been accused of ‘actively helping’ Serco to get rid of a senior union rep from his role as a civil enforcement officer in the borough.

Unite the Union have said that the Labour administration was effectively supporting the ‘hounding’ of the employee by Serco who they claim are trying to undermine the union and force through a redundancy package without consultation.

The unions claims that an Ealing Council officer wrote to Serco to complain about the employee who had stated that the council would lose revenue from Penalty Charge Notices during the recent strike by civil enforcement officers. Unite says that the officer requested that the man, who has been in the job for over two decades, be removed from his role because he had brought the council into disrepute by conveying the council as ‘a purely revenue generating authority’.

The union disputes this and says that the statement made by its member was factually correct and made no reference to the motivation behind Ealing Council’s parking policy.

The same union rep had previously been offered severance by Serco along with several of his colleagues which the union believed was part of an attempt at union-busting by Serco. The recent industrial action was over this issue and the striking workers were joined on a picket line by the three local MPs, Virendra Sharma, Rupa Huq and James Murray.

Unite said it is ‘inconceivable’ that a Labour council would ‘unjustly intervene’ in a dispute over union-busting in favour of an outsourcer, especially when it is party policy to bring services back in-house.

Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said, “As the situation stands Ealing’s Labour-controlled council is actively helping Serco hound a union rep on strike for union-busting out of his job. An injury to one is an injury to all and the council should rest assured that Unite will use its full power to fight this injustice.

“It is inconceivable that a Labour council would use trumped up charges to unjustly intervene in favour of an outsourcing company doing its utmost to undermine trade union organisation. This is just days after all three Ealing MPs joined the picket line in support of Serco’s workers.

“The fact that this union rep can be so offhandedly culled from his position, after spending 20 years working on behalf of the council, is exactly why Labour stands against the pernicious impacts outsourcing has on jobs and services.

“Tonight, is the first council meeting under the new leadership of Peter Mason. Unite calls on every single Ealing councillor to speak out against this decision this evening and for Mr Mason and his cabinet to reverse it with immediate effect.

“Mr Mason also has the opportunity to prove that his ambitious plans for Ealing come to more than just lip service by sacking Serco and bringing the civil enforcement team under council control.”

A council spokesperson said, “Ensuring workers are treated fairly remains a commitment for the council. We are currently working to secure a resolution on this issue as a matter of priority and both the leader and newly-elected deputy leader of the council are meeting with Unite representatives today.”

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May 21, 2021