Housing maintenance employees who work for repair and maintenance organisation Mears in Manchester and who are members of the trade union Unite are undertaking strike action in a dispute over pay.
The industrial action will commence with a 48-hour strike today (Thursday 16 November 2017), with 49 scheduled strike days planned until 9 February 2018.
Around 180 Unite members who work at Mears in Manchester and at Manchester Working, a joint venture organisation operated by Mears, voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot last month. The new programme of strikes follows 40 days of industrial action that has already taken place this year.
The ongoing dispute regards pay differentials between employees at Mears in Manchester and at Manchester Working. Unite states that some housing maintenance employees are being paid £3,500 less for performing the same work.
Unite has announced the industrial action is being taken as a result of Mears failing to meaningfully negotiate on pay and conditions, the detrimental treatment of employees during previous action, attacks on employees’ holiday entitlement, the allocation of work to sub-contractors, inappropriate allocation of work to apprentices, trainees and improvers, and proposed unilateral changes to working hours and conditions for some of the affected employees.
Unite additionally argues that Mears has supplied disingenuous information, as a 10% pay deal offered by the organisation was withdrawn, and would have required employees to work an extra two hours a week. Unite also claims that Mears has provided incorrect figures surrounding employee pay and potential earnings.
The affected employees undertake housing maintenance work across 12,000 properties managed by the housing association Northwards, via a contract tendered by Manchester council.
Andy Fisher, regional co-ordinating officer at Unite, said: “Mears has again been given the opportunity to resolve this dispute following the overwhelming vote for strike action. Once again they have squandered this opportunity. Strike action is being taken as a last resort and will unfortunately inevitably result in widespread disruption to tenants of Northwards housing.
“Unite has attempted to persuade Northward to put pressure on Mears to resolve the dispute but that has not occurred, perhaps due to the close relationship between the management of the two organisations. The deliberate misinformation by Mears about what [employees] earn has only strengthened the resolve of the workforce to press ahead with the strikes. Our members know the truth about what they are actually paid.”
Mears Manchester Working was unavailable for comment at time of publication.