Following two sets of three day strikes, Tower Hamlets UNISON members voted in a branch meeting on the 24th July for five days of action in August. This was then followed up by a 24 hour online survey to members by the local branch, with 90% of respondents voting in favour. However, the regional UNISON structures responded to this negatively. In a meeting with local branch stewards and officers, the validity of those votes was questioned and there was also a criticism of the branch’s ‘exit strategy’. The news was delivered by Helen Reynolds (Local Government Officer), but came from the top of Greater London UNISON and Yvonne Green (regional convenor). Helen Reynolds recently provided comments to the press in relation to the news that Croydon workers were facing mass redundancies. It is likely that as Local Government Officer, Helen Reynolds will be actively involved in UNISON’s response to that situation as well.

Instead, Tower Hamlets workers will take three days of action starting this week, the 14th, 15th and 17th August. The local workers vote for five days of continuous action was based on a desire to escalate the dispute in the face of the council’s continued silence, with no indicators that management are ready to negotiate. Many believe that the council is waiting for the 20th August, when this current trade dispute will expire (trade disputes have a time limit of six months). Back at the same branch meeting in July, there was another vote which went in favour of re-balloting after the expiry of this dispute. However, will UNISON Greater London respect that vote given what has happened here?