Greenwich council housing workers to strike for further four days amid 'brutal' pay dispute

Greenwich Council (Google Maps )
Greenwich Council (Google Maps )

Nearly 150 Greenwich council workers will strike for a further four days after the borough brought in “brutal” plans to cut their wages by nearly a third, Unite union has said.

The workers, who are employed within the repairs and investment service department at the London council, will now strike on July 1-2 and July 15-16.Unite has hit out at the Labour-run council for making “thinly veiled threats on fire and rehire” against its members despite the national party committing to abolish the measure.The union added that workers could lose nearly £17,000 from their salary over the next four years following a pay benchmarking exercise by Greenwich council.Workers previously went on strike for two days in June and Unite said members have been left “with little choice but to ramp up their industrial action” after the council refused to negotiate.Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Greenwich council's plans are a brutal and unjustified attack on our members' living standards. “Many will be left unable to fulfill their financial obligations such as paying their mortgages and rent. Others will be forced into debt.

“That Greenwich is making noises about fire-and-rehire speaks volumes about its morals and business practices.“Unite will not allow that to happen and the council and local politicians will feel the full force of Unite should it try such a move.”

Housing repairs across the borough will be delayed and disrupted due to the walkout and the union has said strike action will escalate further if the dispute is not resolved.

A Greenwich council spokesperson said: “After 13 years of government austerity, the council’s budget has been cut to the bone and we owe it to our residents to regularly assess how we can best deliver for our communities and protect frontline services.

“For that reason, we've reviewed the wage structure of some repairs staff who, in some cases, due to a complicated and historic bonus arrangement, have salaries well above industry average - even upwards of £100,000.

“The council is committed to continuing to engage with unions. Following months of dialogue, we proposed a new structure which delivers better value for money for our tenants, while still appropriately reflecting the work that our staff carry out.

“Unfortunately, at a point where we felt negotiations were nearing a reasonable resolution, we were met with a last-minute rejection and counter offer of a £60,000 lump sum per employee, on top of above average wages.

“This offer is unreasonable, unaffordable and frankly unrealistic – and unfair on staff who have engaged in productive conversations to this point and deserve clarity.

“While we respect the union’s right to ballot for strike action, we would very much welcome a return to reasonable discussions. In the meantime we have all the appropriate resources in place to carry out essential repairs for our tenants.”