Road users in the North West are being warned that there may be disruption to the motorway network this winter, if members of Unite move to industrial action in response to the ‘union busting’ tactics of construction giant, Amey.
The problems relate to the Area 10 highways management contract which was awarded to Amey in 2019 and covers the M6, M60, M67, M66, M56, M57, M58, M602, M61, M62, M53 , M65 and a number of major A roads.
The workers undertake highways maintenance and respond to accidents ensuring that motorways can re-open quickly and safely. During the colder months, the workforce undertakes winter maintenance and gritting to keep the roads ice free and safe for vehicles.
Unite has a long standing recognition agreement under the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) national agreement on the contract and has a very high density of membership. A new management team was installed in early 2020, who have stated that the only way to make money on the contract is to reduce the pay and conditions of the workforce.
To this end, Amey is attempting to end the union recognition on the contract, reduce the number of elected workplace representatives and it has already began to attack the terms and conditions of workers.
Amey has recently removed the bonus payments workers receive, tried to insist (contrary to the existing industrial agreement) that all holidays are booked a year in advance and is trying to bring new starters onto the contract outside of the protection of the recognition agreement. It is doing this even through the workers, who were designated as being ‘key’ employees, continually worked throughout the pandemic.
Unite is already preparing to challenge Amey’s ‘union busting’ industrially, legally and politically.
The union is writing to all the MPs and councillors in area 10 (Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and South Lancashire) informing them of what is occurring and asking them to support the workers and condemn the actions of Amey.
“Amey’s management in the North West, we fear, is set on ‘union busting’, in order to cut workers’ pay and conditions to ramp up profits” commented Unite regional co-ordinating officer Andy Fisher.
“Industrial action would be the last resort and would not be entered into lightly as it will cause incredible disruption across the North West.
“However, Amey needs to understand that Unite will not allow its members to be treated in this manner,” Fisher added.
National officer for construction Ian Woodland agreed and said, “Amey needs to stop attacking its workers’ terms and conditions, stop attacking Unite and enter into detailed negotiations about a sensible and fair way forward on this contract.”
By Barckley Sumner