Greenwich housing repairs could be seriously disrupted as more than 120 workers threaten to strike in the new year over a new pay system that could see some of them losing £20,000-a-year in wages.

Unite the union accused their employer, the Royal Borough of Greenwich of reneging on a previous agreement, acting in bad faith and using Covid-19 as an excuse for the wages’ axe.

More than 120 directly-employed carpenters, decorators, electricians and plumbers, who maintain the borough’s housing stock, voted by 98 per cent for strike action – but Unite is now allowing a breathing space for last-ditch talks to avert the announcement of strike dates.

The crux of the dispute is a new pay system that could see up to £20,000 slashed from workers’ pay packets. Unite members are on pay scales ranging from £35,000 to £55,000.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “However, you slice this to lose about £20,000-a-year living and working in one of the world’s most expensive cities is totally unacceptable.

“We believe that the council bosses are using Covid-19 as an excuse to implement the new pay scales  – and this is an act of bad faith, especially as they reneged on a previous agreement on pay.

“Again, it looks like the public sector workforce is being lined up as ‘the fall guy’ to pay for Covid-19, while those with links to the ‘no shame’ Tory establishment pocket millions from the inflated prices paid for vital PPE.

“The council now has a window of opportunity to row back from its hardline stance and negotiate a fair settlement, otherwise we will announce strike dates for the new year which will cause havoc to the maintenance programme of the council’s housing stock.”

Unite Greenwich branch secretary Danny Hoggan said: “We have a huge mandate as a result of this vote – the message is very clear. It is time for the council to make a decision. The strength of feeling has been demonstrated by the size of the ‘yes’ vote. Our members will not be made to pay the price of Covid-19.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

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.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

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