About 400 lift engineers, employed by Otis Ltd, have pressed the button on six weeks of strike action over the next three months after rejecting ‘a paltry pay offer’ of 1.5 per cent.
Unite said that this was the first time in 15 years that the engineers had taken strike action and the union warned that such industrial action across the UK will cause ‘severe disruption’ to the servicing of lifts and their installation in new buildings.
The dispute follows the rejection of a 1.5 per cent pay offer for the year starting June 2018 and plans to withdraw the shift system which, Unite says, will cost its members between £3,000 and £4,000 a year.
The first week’s strike runs from March 13 to 20 and will then be followed by five weeks of strike action. The dates are March 27 until April 3; April 10-17; April 24-May 1 ; May 8-May 15 and May 22-29.
“The paltry 1.5 per pay offer, which has been overwhelmingly rejected by our members, will lead to six weeks of strike action over the next three months,” said Unite national officer for engineering Linda McCulloch.
“What the Otis’ bosses have offered falls well short of what employees at rival lift firms Schindler and Kone were awarded – 2.5 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively,” she added.
“This coupled with the threat to withdraw the current shift system at Otis, worth £3,000 to £4,000 a year, was the last straw for our members who have endured years of below inflation pay rises.
“We appreciate that six weeks of strikes into early summer will cause severe disruption to Otis’ customers – lifts will go unserviced on time and the installation of new equipment into buildings under construction will be delayed,” McCulloch went on to say.
“The fact that this is the first strike by the engineers in 15 years should send a clear signal to management that our members mean business and management should sit down with Unite to negotiate a decent pay rise. The ball is very much in Otis’ court.”
The engineers voted by 71 per cent for strike action and 88 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.