Unite picket line, March 2019. Photograph: Unite.

The row between unions and Hackney Council over pay for bus drivers for SEND children has deepened, with Unite going so far as to accuse the Town Hall of “illegal” and “spiteful” behaviour.

The allegations come as the union begins balloting their members for further strike action in an ongoing dispute over a claim for £50 a week compensation for drivers who undertake split shifts.

Strike pay was to be given to workers by Unite based on what showed up on their payslips, which the union claim the drivers are now unable to see.

The Town Hall claims this is the result of a shift from an informal arrangement in which payslips were provided in digital format to a system of hard copies being posted out directly.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “We had hoped that the council would engage in constructive meaningful discussion – this has not happened, hence the new ballot. But the news we are getting this morning takes the behaviour of the council to a new low.

“In order to make payments, the union has set up a system based on how much people have lost for taking strike action – which will show up on a payslip. However, the employer is now denying staff access to their payslips. As well as being illegal, it’s spiteful.

“We have appealed this morning to the council to sort it out. This action will only harden the resolve of our members to win this campaign.”

Numerous organisations have made donations to the drivers’ campaign, including the Trade Council, the National Education Union, Labour Party members and other Unite branches.

It is understood that as the drivers are not based in an office, managers used to send them their payslips on an informal basis, but the council’s HR department has now switched to a more formal arrangement of printing them off and posting them.

Kasab pointed out that workers could be left in the lurch if their strike pay is delayed even for a day.

A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “All staff do of course have the right and ability to access their payslips.

“All staff payslips, including those of the transport assistance team, are available on the council’s intranet, but as these members of staff are not office-based, an office manager used to access their payslip on their behalf at their request.

“This was an informal process so our HR team is arranging for physical payslips to be posted regularly to the staff. Staff can, of course, use the intranet to access their payslips at any time.  Service managers will also look to set up online access in the depot.”

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