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‘Wage robbery’

MoD Gosport workers to stage protest
Barckley Sumner, Monday, November 6th, 2017

Low-paid workers employed by a contractor at the MoD’s Fort Blockhouse in Gosport will stage a wage robbery protest tomorrow (November 7) as a result of their employer cutting their working year from 52 to 50 weeks. The cut is set to cost the workers around £500 each.


The cleaners, mess hands and housekeepers who are members of Unite are employed by ESS, part of the Compass Group, which paid its boss £5.8m last year. The cut in the working year means that for a fortnight the workers will be unpaid, without an opportunity to seek other work.


All the members have raised a grievance against the wage cut, which was heard but not upheld. Despite the company having established grievance procedures, ESS had failed to hear the workers’ appeals against the decision until Unite became involved. Although the company now accepts this to hear the appeal, it has still not been heard.


ESS is also cutting the working year in the contracts of its low-paid workers at Whale Island (Portsmouth) and other locations in the south east.


The cut in the working year and the consequent pay cut does not apply to the company’s managers and supervisors.


This cut in the working year coincides with the company’s cleaning contract being up for renewal, and the bids for the contracts are understood to be submitted this month. By lowering employee costs ESS will be able to submit a lower bid increasing its chances of keeping the contract.


“What ESS is doing is nothing short of wage robbery,” said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey. “Bosses are seeking to ruthlessly exploit low paid, long serving workers in order to further boost the firm’s already astronomic profits.


“Unite is not going to stand idly by and allow our members to be treated in this way,” he added. “They have the full backing of Britain’s largest union to win their battle for wage justice.”


Local Unite regional officer Bob Middleton added, “Our members are loyal and take pride in the work they do. They do not deserve to be exploited by another greedy contractor.


“If the ministers at the MoD have any decency they will step in and ensure that this grotesque exploitation does not occur on their watch.”


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