Housing maintenance workers plan industrial action over poverty pay

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Housing maintenance
© Elliott Brown

Workers employed by Mears and Mitie undertaking housing maintenance work for Crawley council are preparing for industrial action after nearly a decade of pay cuts

The last decade of pay cuts has seen their earnings fall by 28% in real terms.

Since the two companies took over the housing maintenance contracts in 2010 the workers have seen a huge drop in real terms earnings. Workers on the Mears contract received a 1% increase in 2015 and a further 1% in 2018.

Those on the Mitie contract received a 1% increase in 2012 and a further 1.5% in 2017. Since the two companies have managed the contracts, inflation has increased by 30%.

Unite only secured recognition on the two contracts last year (2018). This year is the first opportunity Unite has had to table a pay claim and is seeking a 3.7% increase; however both companies have refused to enter into negotiations.

As a result, Unite has undertaken a consultative ballot for industrial action, which has been strongly backed by the workforce and is now making arrangements for a full industrial action ballot. There are 25 workers on the Mears contract and 65 on the Mitie contract.

Unite is also campaigning for Mears and Mitie to introduce sick pay for their workforce. Currently the workers are being ‘discriminated’ against as they are the only section of the council who do not receive sick pay.

Most of the workforce earn in the region of £27,000 – £28,000, far below the rates that construction workers can secure in the private sector.

Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonnett said: “Our members’ standard of living has been cut to the bone by the meanness of Mitie and Mears and workers are simply just not going to accept this any longer.

“Mitie and Mears need to come to the table and enter into proper negotiations to agree a pay rise for this year and agree a roadmap to boost our members’ standard of living in the coming years.

“The workers at Mitie and Mears are high skilled and undertake vital work in maintaining Crawley’s council housing. If pay rates are not addressed they will vote with their feet and leave, resulting in increased costs and delays in repairs.”

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