Strike action could affect school cycling lessons in September, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Cycling instructors in Haringey and Enfield could go on strike over a twelve-year pay freeze and “worsening” terms and conditions.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) announced that 34 cycling instructors working in the two boroughs would be balloted for strike action, which it warns would cause “significant disruption” to the councils’ year-round cycle training when schools reopen in September.
Instructors staged a protest outside Enfield Civic Centre on 14th July to demand an end to the twelve-year pay freeze that the union claims amounts to a 30% real-terms pay cut.
They are also unhappy with “unfair” cancellation policies that can lose them a week’s work one working day before a course starts – cutting their pay by as much as £500 a week with no way of finding replacement work.
IWGB president Alex Marshall said: “Cycling instructors cannot continue working under these exploitative conditions, and action is needed now.
“The councillors for Enfield and Haringey must take responsibility, engage with the workers and give them the pay and conditions they more than deserve.”
Michael McSherry, chair of the IWGB’s cycling instructors branch, said strike action was a “sad, last resort” after the councils “refused to enter any form of negotiation or commit to change”.
Both councils outsource their cycle training to a firm called Cycle Confident, which has also been informed of the strike ballot.
Haringey Council indicated its cycling instructors service could be insourced in future. Mike Hakata, deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, transport and the climate emergency, said: “During informal conversations with the cycling instructors and the IWGB, councillor Julie Davies and I have made it clear to them that we saw an insourced service as having merit, and, since becoming cabinet members, we have requested that options relating to this be explored, and it is now underway.
“All participating London boroughs are faced with similar obstacles in this instance, with our funding for cycling proficiency coming entirely from TfL, and the government funding agreement does duly have a knock-on effect in terms of the ability of London councils like ourselves to raise the standards of pay and conditions.”
Cllr Hakata added that the council had “raised these issues with our main funder on cycling in TfL, and we are actively working with them on solutions to the issues raised by the IWBG”. He said the council had held a meeting with the IWGB on 7th May to begin preliminary discussions around the cycling instructors’ pay, terms and conditions, and had offered to meet the union again.
Michael added that the council needed to keep putting pressure on Cycle Confident to act, warning the future of the councils’ workforce was at stake.
Cycle Confident was also approached for comment.