Harlow council strikes intensify

Pay strikes by Harlow housing repair and grounds workers continue

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Pay strikes by over 300 staff responsible for Harlow council’s housing stock and the cleaning and maintenance of council grounds and buildings are to intensify, Unite said on Tuesday (March 28).

The workers, who are employed by HTS, which is wholly owned by Harlow district council, began strike action in late February. New strike dates have now been scheduled for April 5, 6, 24, 25, 27 and 28.

HTS’s workforce voted by 87 per cent for strike action as a result of pay being less than workers doing the same jobs at other local authorities.

The workers are demanding a cost-of-living payment and for their pay bands to be re-graded so they are brought up to industry standards.

The council’s latest financial report showed it had assets of £63 million on 31 March 2022, an increase of £19 million from the year before.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Harlow council is using HTS as a cover to keep these workers on second class wages and terms and conditions. This is completely unacceptable to Unite.

“The council has more than enough funds to provide a cost of living payment to these workers and to correct their current pay bands. Unite is here to defend workers’ jobs, pay and conditions and our members at HTS have their union’s full support.”

The strike will severely disrupt housing repairs and maintenance, street cleaning, grounds maintenance, cleaning and caretaking of council buildings and parks and gardening services.

More strikes will be scheduled if the dispute is not resolved.

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook added,“The responsibility for the disruption that will be caused lies squarely with the council’s obstinate refusal to do the right thing by its staff.

“Harlow council and HTS need to get back round the negotiating table and put forward a cost of living payment and a concrete timetable for when pay grades will be revaluated.”

By Ryan Fletcher