The dispute involving drivers and passenger escorts on school buses for disabled children in Hackney has been reignited after council bosses reneged on the settlement reached earlier this month.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said that Hackney’s council’s U-turn on the agreement for its 38 members now meant that future industrial action was very much back on the table.

The workers called off their strike in their long-running dispute over payments for working split shifts on 9 October, but now the council is now insisting that the staff use contractual leave days for the training days agreed as part of the settlement.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “We reached a settlement that agreed the training and development sessions would take place during paid work time. This was a vital component that paved the way for our members to call off their strike action.

“However, when we met council officers this week to discuss implementation of the agreement, we were told that staff would need to use their inset days for training as part of the arrangements. For clarity, the inset days for these staff are not used for training - they are paid leave days.

“Clearly, the council is unhappy that staff receive paid inset days which are, in effect, contractual leave days. But this is a completely different issue and not linked to this dispute.

“The employer’s actions in this case do not just demonstrate bad faith as far as negotiated agreements are concerned – they demonstrate appalling opportunism.

“Further industrial action and a very public campaign by Unite to show who is responsible for possible future disruption are very much on the cards after the council has, needlessly, reignited this dispute.

“Unless the employer abides by what was clearly understood, negotiated and agreed then we will restart the industrial action campaign, including strike action.”

The original dispute centred on a claim for compensation for the split shifts, backdated to July last year when the issue was first raised. Unite said this claim is based on the next grade in the Green Book national agreement which the union believed was the correct one for this group of workers. There were six 24 hour strikes over the summer on this issue.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065. Email:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.