Underpaid electricians 'have had enough'

Sandwell council tenants face ‘sitting in the dark’ after electricians vote to strike

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Sandwell council tenants could be left without power after local authority electricians voted for strike action over an ‘unfair’ pay evaluation that is costing them £1,000 a year, Unite warned today (Janaury 9).

Around 26 electricians, who carry out repairs in council housing in Sandwell, West Midlands, are being paid below nationally recognised standards because their job evaluations are not being scored properly.

According to the National Joint Council, which sets pay rates for local government staff, experienced electricians should score between 463 and 486 points. Sandwell council electricians, however, score just 387 points.

The discrepancy is a result of Sandwell council’s refusal to include the training of apprentices or the type of environment the electricians work in as part of the job evaluation scoring process.

After nearly two years of Sandwell council ignoring their claim, Unite members voted in favour of going on strike, joining electrician colleagues belonging to other trade unions taking industrial action over the same issue.

“Sandwell council has attempted to brush this issue aside for nearly two years and our members have had enough,” said Unite regional officer Emma Randle. “It is unfair that the council is underpaying our members by nearly a £1,000 a year by excluding criteria included in the National Joint Council job evaluation.

“Strike action will severely inconvenience Sandwell council tenants who need repairs and could leave some sitting in the dark until the action ends,” she added. “But any blame will be entirely on the shoulders of the council’s management who have had every opportunity to resolve this dispute before it got to this stage.

“There is still time to avoid disruption to tenants and Unite urges Sandwell to do the reasonable thing and pay its electricians the wage they’re entitled to.”

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