Workers employed by both Mears and Mitie undertaking housing maintenance work for Crawley council are being balloted after what their union says is nearly a decade of pay cuts.
The Unite says that they have seen their pay fall by 28% in real terms since the two contractors took over the housing maintenance contracts in 2010. Today most of the workers earn in the region of £27,000-£28,000, it says.
There are 25 workers on the Mears contract and 65 on the Mitie contract.
Workers on the Mears contract received a 1% increase in 2015 and a further 1% in 2018. Mitie workers received 1% increase in 2012 and a further 1.5% in 2017. Since 2010, there has been 30% inflation in the UK, the union notes.
Unite only secured union recognition on the two contracts in 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. The next step is a full industrial action ballot.
Unite is also campaigning for Mears and Mitie to introduce sick pay for the workforce. Currently the housing maintenance workers are the only section of the council that do not receive sick pay.
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.”