Kier’s motorway maintenance crew on the Highways England Area 3 contract are aggrieved that they get less sick pay than office-based staff.
The workers provide a seven-day, 24-hour service throughout the pandemic to ensure that the 237km of motorway and trunk road across Hampshire, Surrey, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and parts of Buckinghamshire remain open and maintained.
But despite being required to work day and night in all weathers, the highways maintenance workers only receive statutory sick pay (SSP), worth £96.35 a week.
In contrast, office based staff at Kier – and the workers who are directly employed by the client, Highways England – receive full sick pay from day one for a three-month period.
A protest is planned for lunchtime today (Wednesday 18th August) outside Kier’s Bridgwater House office in Basingstoke. The protestors are supported by their trades union, Unite.
Unite regional officer Malcom Bonnett said: “Kier's workers who operate in all weathers to keep the southeast’s motorway network fully operational deserve full sick pay, when they are ill. The pandemic has exposed the fact that workers simply can’t survive on SSP which is less than £100 a week.
“The lack of sick pay results in workers continuing to come to work when they are ill. In normal times, due to the safety critical work they undertake, this could have tragic consequences. During the Covid pandemic it leads to unnecessary risk of exposure to infection. It is simply unjustifiable that office based workers receive full sick pay while those working on the motorway network only receive SSP.
Malcom Bonnett added: “With Kier recently being re-awarded the contract on Area 3, now is the perfect time for the company to act and level the playing field on sick pay. If Kier does not end the discrimination to motorway operatives, Unite will step up the campaign which will involve further protests and the possibility of additional actions in order to secure a fair deal for our members.”
A Kier spokesperson said: “The terms and conditions of our operational workforce in Highways, including those employed in Area 3, are aligned with the Construction Industry Joint Council, which is a union-supported national agreement. The welfare of our employees is a key priority for us and we are therefore committed to working through this matter in collaboration with Unite.”