Strike ballot imminent at drug support centre

Voting - pic Adelle Kalakouti

Unite members at a Hackney family drug support centre are being balloted to strike after being asked to reapply for their jobs, in some cases with a £10,000 pay cut.

The ballot will take place between mid-end of January and will affect 36 out of 37 staff members at the Tudor Grove centre.

The charity Lifeline, funded by Hackney Council, is to shut its support service for children of drug and alcohol-using parents at the Tudor Grove centre in February.

According to Unite, staff at the centre are hoping that with the support of the public, including those who personally benefited from recovery at the centre, Hackney council will look again at the scale of the cuts.

Jamie Major, a regional officer at Unite said: “No-one actually wants to go on strike. None of the staff have ever been on strike so it’s a scary prospect for them, but they see no other option. There is just anger and disappointment.”

In a consultative ballot last month 94 per cent of Tudor Grove staff voted in favour of industrial action.

Major said: “Based on the attitudes of staff and the result of the consultative ballot, I predict a total walkout unless someone starts listening to us soon.”

Lifeline said it is “working hard with our staff and commissioners to respond to the changing environment.”

They added that “there will be no swinging cuts within Hackney” but admitted that “some existing roles will be lost.”

In a statement, Ian Wardle, chief executive of Lifeline, said: “As you would expect, I very much hope that there will not be industrial action.”

Tudor Grove centre was contacted for further comment, but was not able to make a statement.

Hackney has an estimated 4,500 drug users – one of the highest numbers in London.

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