Unite, the UK’s largest union, has accused the management of Vivark, which provides housing maintenance services for thousands of tenants in Knowsley, Merseyside of being ‘pig headed’ for their blinkered approach to an ongoing pay dispute.
The workers have been taking two days of strike action (every Monday and Friday) since 1 December 2017, the dispute is due to continue until Thursday 22 February.
The 120 strong workforce are employed by Vivark Ltd and Knowsley Housing Trust, they undertake repairs and maintenance work on the Trust’s social housing properties.
The dispute began after the workforce overwhelmingly rejected a below inflation increase of two per cent. This offer followed years of pay freezes and other below inflation increases.
The workforce has also experienced attacks on their terms and conditions including a reduction in holidays, lower pension entitlement, an increase in working hours and major cuts to sick pay.
Negotiations to resolve the dispute have been blocked by Vivark Ltd and Knowsley Housing Trust, refusing to look at alternative options, which would not increase the overall cost of the increase.
Unite has proposed an across the board lump sum increase (which would most benefit the lowest paid), a reinstatement of holidays and a reduction in the working week. All of the options have been rejected out of hand by Vivark.
The ongoing dispute has resulted in serious delays in urgent repairs being undertaken and a backlog in the maintenance programme. The delays are set to worsen as the strike continues.
Unite regional officer John Sheppard said: “Vivark’s pig headed attitude to negotiations is preventing this dispute being resolved which is creating unnecessary misery for tenants.
“Every time Unite makes a recommendation and tries to seek a solution, the company says ‘no’ and moves the goal posts. It is almost as if they don’t want to resolve the dispute and are happy for tenants to face mounting misery.
“Managers need to take off their blinkers and return to the negotiating table with a positive mind set.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.