'Huge victory'

Greenwich housing repair staff win ‘one of best’ pay and productivity deals at London councils, says Unite

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Housing repair staff employed by the Royal Borough of Greenwich have voted in favour of a ‘pay and productivity’ package which is now one of best for such workers across London councils.

Unite the union hailed victory for the more than 120 directly-employed carpenters, decorators, electricians and plumbers in the long-running dispute which, it said, had resulted in ‘one of the highest paying productivity agreements for local government housing repair workers in London’.

The dispute erupted at the end of last year over threats by council bosses that could have seen some of the staff losing £20,000-a-year in wages which then led to an overwhelming vote for strike action. Unite had accused the council of using the pandemic as an excuse to axe wages.

Unite said that the details of the new package, which will start on October 1, would remain confidential. However the key elements include increased starting pay; protecting pay and allowing workers to earn a decent wage; bringing wage stability when pay can vary based on the availability of work – the new scheme will reduce the potential for wages to reduce by ensuring work is available; and bringing more work back in-house, as well as cutting work going out to outside contractors.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said, “Our campaign began with defending our members from across-the-board pay cuts of over £20,000-a-year – that threat has now been removed.

“After tough negotiations, we now have reached an agreement which is one of the best in terms of ability to earn for housing repair and maintenance staff employed by councils across the capital,” he added.

“This, coupled with an agreement to bring work in-house, is a huge victory for the union and for our members, but it has only come through the leverage we had because of the ballot for strike action,” Kasab continued.

“Our members and the Unite Greenwich branch, led by branch secretary Danny Hoggan, deserve congratulations for showing what a union can do when it demonstrates solidarity and courage in the face of threats to pay and employment conditions.

“Unite now looks forward to future constructive dialogue with the management at the Royal Borough of Greenwich.”

By Shaun Noble

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