In response to severe pay cuts, maintenance workers employed by the Royal Borough of Greenwich have overwhelmingly voted to strike, reports Isabel Carr
Carpenters, decorators, electricians and plumbers who maintain the Royal Borough of Greenwich's housing stock are being forced into a new pay system that could see them lose up to £20,000 a year.
This aggressive, opportunistic move by the employer follows councils in Brighton and Hove, Glasgow, and Tower Hamlets, amongst others, who are trying to use Covid-19 as an excuse to carry out drastic cuts to the pay, terms and conditions of their workers.
They are unashamedly trying to make the very key workers that have carried society through the pandemic pay for the crisis.
But in the fightback trade union organisers from Unite formed a committee representing every department, and pushed membership density to over 90%, so come the ballot more than 120 workers directly employed by the council voted by 98% in favour of strike action against the move.
This impressive strike mandate shows that workers are not going to accept the onslaught lying down.
Organiser Willie Howard, speaking in a personal capacity, said,
“Make no mistake, refuse workers, maintenance workers and the other key workers who kept us going through this pandemic are not going to carry the can for this crisis. For the past 40 years we’ve been told the country is ‘broke’, wages have stagnated for ordinary people while those at the top are raking it in. Across South and East London and Essex we’re putting the marker down - enough is enough”
“We have a huge mandate as a result of this vote – the message is very clear,” said Unite Greenwich branch secretary Dan Hoggan. “Our members will not be made to pay the price of Covid-19.”