The bosses of the Finnish-owned lift firm Kone are urged to intervene in the dispute over a tracker device in employees’ vehicles, as a two-week strike by 300 engineering service workers is scheduled to start from next Wednesday (27 May).
Unite, the country’s largest union, called on the Finnish management to knock heads together of their UK colleagues, after talks at the conciliation service, Acas broke down after 10 hours when the Kone management walked out.
Unite says that the crux of the dispute is that the tracker system, known as VAMS, is an unreliable method for measuring workloads.
Unite’s members service lifts, doors and escalators across the UK, including at Gatwick and Heathrow airports.
The strike action commencing is due to start at 06:00 hours on Wednesday and ending at 06:00 hours on Tuesday 9 June. This will run in tandem with the ban on overtime, night call ban and on-call ban which has been in force since 27 March.
Additionally, there will be a 24 hour stoppage of driver engineers, who work the 12 hour, four days on, four days off shifts, starting at 06.00 on Tuesday (26 May). Driver engineer members working at Gatwick and Heathrow airports on the 12 hour, four on, four off shifts will strike for 24 hours tomorrow (Saturday 23 May) starting at 06:00.
Unite has said that VAMS should not be used to verify time sheets, and site arrival and leaving times as it is unreliable – for example, one driver was alleged have driven 1,000 miles in one day without refuelling. The union is not against the principle of VAMS when used for health and safety purposes.
Unite national officer Linda McCulloch said: “The Acas talks with the UK management of Kone have proved to be fruitless, after they walked out after 10 hours.
“Due to this unreasonable behaviour, Unite is calling on the top executives of this Finnish-owned company to intervene and sort out the intransigent stance of their local UK management. Already the Finnish metal workers’ union has put pressure on the company.
“Our members have already staged strike action and we are now staging a two-week strike from next Wednesday, as our members are furious at the way they have been treated and their legitimate concerns about VAMS ignored. They have no confidence in the UK management.
“Evidence has shown the mileage recorded by VAMS for business or private use is not accurate and exaggerates the amount of mileage being completed. It is ‘a spy in the cab’ that does not function properly, so it is understandable that our members are angry.
“This will lead to employees being wrongly assessed for private mileage and could lead to wrong deductions from wages and ultimately disciplinary situations.”
Unite is calling for a new framework document to iron out the problems with VAMS which, the union says, the hardline management is currently refusing. There is already a framework agreement for handheld devices – and Unite is looking for a similar agreement for VAMS.
The workers voted by 81 per cent for strike action and by 91 per cent for industrial action short of a strike. The main Kone sites are at Chertsey in Surrey, Gateshead, Glasgow, Keighley in Yorkshire and Warrington.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.