Cycling instructors balloted for strike action over pay

Strike action could affect school cycling lessons in September, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Cycling instructors stage a protest outside Enfield Civic Centre
Cycling instructors stage a protest outside Enfield Civic Centre

Cycling instructors in Enfield and Haringey 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.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said it continued to respond to all correspondence received by IWGB and had asked members to provide examples where cancellations have impacted on pay, so that it could better understand their concerns. It also denied the IWGB’s claim that local authorities fundamentally decide the instructors’ pay, terms and conditions. 

But union branch chair Michael claimed the council could state that it wants to improve instructors’ terms and conditions at the next contract tendering process and put pressure on the provider to make those improvements straightaway. 

He said almost 100% of the work that would have been done by instructors had been cancelled because of the pandemic, so they were essentially being asked by the council to provide information going back 18 months prior to now. The IWGB had gone back to the council on this point, he added.

A council spokesperson said: “We will discuss with our cycle training provider, with a view to updating our contract to be clear that we expect anyone involved in the organisation and delivery of cycle training to receive a minimum of the London Living Wage, and that naturally they are paid for all the hours they are required to work.”

The spokesperson added: “We understand that cycle instructors working in Enfield receive £18 per hour, with those working towards full qualification receiving £15 per hour. Instructors with our delivery provider are typically self-employed, but that current rate of pay is above the London Living Wage, which is £10.85 per hour.

“We are aware that Transport for London (TfL) is discussing cancellation policy with the Bikeability Trust, who in turn are consulting with the industry. TfL provides funding for cycle training, and we will work with it and our cycle training delivery partner to bring forward any updates to cancellation policy, based on any recommendations that are made.”

Cycle Confident was also approached for comment.