About 400 lift engineers, employed by Otis Ltd, have pressed the button on six weeks of strike action over the next three months after rejecting ‘a paltry pay offer’ of 1.5 per cent.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said that this was the first time in 15 years that the engineers had taken strike action and the union warned that such industrial action across the UK will cause ‘severe disruption’ to the servicing of lifts and their installation in new buildings.

The dispute follows the rejection of a 1.5 per cent pay offer for the year starting June 2018 and plans to withdraw the shift system which, Unite says, will cost its members between £3,000 and £4,000 a year.

The first week’s strike runs from 13 to 20 March and will then be followed by five weeks of strike action. The dates are 27 March until 3 April; 10-17 April;
24 April-1 May; 8 May-15 May; and 22-29 May.

Unite national officer for engineering Linda McCulloch said: “The paltry 1.5 per pay offer, which has been overwhelmingly rejected by our members, will lead to six weeks of strike action over the next three months.

“What the Otis’ bosses have offered falls well short of what employees at rival lift firms Schindler and Kone were awarded - 2.5 per cent and
2.9 per cent respectively.

“This coupled with the threat to withdraw the current shift system at Otis, worth £3,000 to £4,000 a year, was the last straw for our members who have endured years of below inflation pay rises.

“We appreciate that six weeks of strikes into early summer will cause severe disruption to Otis’ customers – lifts will go unserviced on time and the installation of new equipment into buildings under construction will be delayed.

“The fact that this is the first strike by the engineers in 15 years should send a clear signal to management that our members mean business and management should sit down with Unite to negotiate a decent pay rise. The ball is very much in Otis’ court.”

The engineers voted by 71 per cent for strike action and 88 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.


Notes to editors:

The company website says it has 31,000 expert mechanics working in 200 countries and adds: ‘In 1854, Elisha Otis travelled to the New York World's Fair to promote his new invention. Standing high above the crowd on a platform lift, he ordered the retaining rope cut. The crowd cried out. His safety brake held.’

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065

Email: [email protected]

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.