Greenwich council repair workers to strike next week over pay dispute

Greenwich Council (Google Maps )
Greenwich Council (Google Maps )

Nearly 150 Greenwich Council workers are set to launch strike action next week over plans to slash their wages by almost a third.

The workers - members of Unite, the UK’s leading union - are employed within the repairs and investment service department at the London council.

The council's pay benchmarking exercise has led to plans to cut wages, with reductions implemented in stages over four years. Some workers could see their salaries reduced by nearly £17,000 by the fourth year.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham condemned the council's plans, saying: “Greenwich council's plans are a brutal and unjustified attack on our members' living standards.

“Many will be left unable to fulfil their financial obligations such as paying their mortgages and rent. Others will be forced into debt.

“Unite never tolerates attacks on our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and the workers at Greenwich will receive the union's unflinching support in defeating the council's plans.”

More than 140 workers will commence strike action next Tuesday with a picket line outside the Birchmere Centre in Thamesmead from 7am.

Housing repairs across the borough are expected to be delayed and disrupted due to the walkout. The strike action will escalate if the dispute is not resolved, Unite warned.

Unite regional officer Mary Summers said: “The strike action will inevitably cause delays and disruptions to Greenwich’s housing stock, but this dispute is entirely of the council’s own making.

The council needs to take this abhorrent pay cut off the table. Decision makers know the value of ourmembers and their pay should reflect that.”

A spokesperson for the Royal Borough of Greenwich said: "After 13 years of government austerity, the Council’s budget has been cut to the bone and we owe it to our residents to regularly assess how we can best deliver for our communities and protect frontline services. z

“For that reason, we've reviewed the wage structure of some repairs staff who, in some cases, due to a complicated and historic bonus arrangement, have salaries well above industry average - even of upwards of £100,000.

“The Council is committed to continuing to engage with unions. Following months of dialogue, we proposed a new structure which delivers better value for money for our tenants, while still appropriately reflecting the work that our staff carry out. Unfortunately, at a point where we felt negotiations were nearing a reasonable resolution, we were met with a last-minute rejection and counter offer of a £60,000 lump sum per employee, on top of above average wages.

“This offer is unreasonable, unaffordable and frankly unrealistic – and unfair on staff who have engaged in productive conversations to this point and deserve clarity.

“While we respect the union’s right to ballot for strike action, we would very much welcome a return to reasonable discussions. In the meantime we have all the appropriate resources in place to carry out essential repairs for our tenants.”

It comes after hundreds of homes across the capital were impacted following fresh strikes by repair and maintenance workers in April.

Hundreds of Hackney-based workers from Sanctuary Housing launched strike action over an ongoing pay dispute.