ESS, which is part of the multi-million pound Compass Group, has been accused of using the Covid-19 pandemic to ‘steal’ the working weeks and cut the pay of outsourced workers on Ministry of Defence contracts.

Worried workers

Workers employed by ESS from throughout the UK have been contacting Unite, the UK’s leading union, about plans to reduce their working weeks from the normal 52 weeks in a year to just 50 or even 49 weeks. In some cases workers are also having their hours reduced.

Some of the predominantly low paid workers have estimated that they will be around £800 a year worse off from the ‘theft’ of their working weeks alone, while others fear the attack on pay will affect the value of their pension.

Gosport case

It is not the first time that ESS has sought to cut the working weeks of low paid workers. The company tried to do the same thing to workers in the Gosport area including at Fort Blockhouse in 2017.

Unite took ESS to an employment tribunal on behalf of its members, for breach of contract. ESS was forced to accept that the cutting of the working weeks of its employees was illegal. It had to reinstate the working weeks and pay compensation to the workers who took the case which was worth on average £1,900.

Cashing in 

Unlike other parts of ESS, the MoD contracts have not been affected at all by the pandemic but it appears the company is trying to cut costs on these contracts in order to cover for losses in other parts of the business.

The workers affected are primarily kitchen staff, mess hands, chefs and others who work on MoD catering contracts.

Greed not need 

Unite officer with national responsibility for the MoD Caren Evans said: “This is all about greed not need by ESS.

 “ESS workers on MoD bases up and down the country were required to keep working throughout the pandemic to ensure our armed forces were properly looked after.

 “The only thanks these key workers are receiving for the dedication is that once again ESS are looking to steal their working weeks and cut their pay.

 “Unite is considering all options to defend our members and to end this outrageous attack on their pay.

 “Unite is urging ESS to withdraw these immoral plans and step back from cutting athe pay of already low paid workers.”


Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

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.