HOUSING workers took to the picket lines yesterday demanding that victimised union convener Bryan Kennedy be allowed to get back to work.
Unite union members have launched four days of strike action in solidarity with Mr Kennedy, who was suspended in February on the eve of negotiations trying to end workers’ six-year pay freeze.
“It’s become the case in the sector that employers have become increasingly aggressive towards workers organising”, said Unite housing branch chairman Paul Kershaw.
“We are clear that we are not going to tolerate intimidation.”
One Housing suspended Mr Kennedy pending an investigation into alleged performance issues but the union believes that Mr Kennedy was being victimised because of his campaign to end the pay freeze as well as negotiate a rise in the night shift’s appalling low wage of £3.79 an hour.
“Unfortunately, this is an employer with ‘form’ in terms of the way it treats staff representatives — if they don’t like the message, they shoot the messenger,” said Unite regional officer Nicky Marcus.
“A particularly inappropriate management style for an organisation responsible for supporting vulnerable clients.”
Unite London regional secretary Paul Kavanagh joined workers on the picket lines yesterday, pledging his full support for the I’m Bryan campaign.
The union has said it is willing to sit down with management and conciliation service Acas to end the dispute but One Housing has so far refused.
“We would appeal to the management to take up our invitations to talk and to reconsider its hardline approach to industrial relations,” urged Ms Marcus.
The four-day action was agreed after workers voted nine-to-one for strikes.
Walk outs have taken place at OHS sites across London and south-east England.
Pickets will be outside Ponders Bridge House, Caledonian Road, London N7 from noon to 2pm today and outside 100 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 from 8am to 4pm on Monday.