More than 300 staff responsible for Harlow council’s housing stock and maintaining council grounds and buildings are to march on the town hall to demand fair pay.  

When: 12:00, Thursday 27 April 2023, reaching Civic Centre at 12:30

Where: Begins at William Aylmer pub, Harlow, CM20 1DG 

             Ends at Civic Centre, Harlow, CM20 1WG

The workers began strike action in late February and are employed by HTS, which is wholly owned by Harlow district council with a board of directors made up of councillors. They are striking because they are paid less than workers doing the same jobs at other local authorities. 

HTS’ staff are demanding a cost-of-living payment and for a salary re-grading so their pay is brought up to industry standards. The council is refusing to negotiate, despite its latest financial report recording assets of £63 million on 31 March 2022, an increase of £19 million from the year before. During the year ending March 2023, Harlow’s 33 elected councillors received a total of £202,065 in allowances. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "HTS' workforce know full well that the company is controlled by Harlow council. It is the council that has made the decision to leave them to struggle on below standard wages even though its coffers are healthy. This is disgraceful behaviour but is particularly bad during a cost of living crisis. Our members are marching to the town hall to show the council it is not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. The council must give HTS workers fair pay now.”

Strikes are taking place this week on Thursday (27 April) and Friday (28 April), with further strikes set for 2, 3 and 4 May. Industrial action will intensify if the dispute is not resolved. 

The strikes have severely disrupted housing repairs and maintenance, street cleaning, grounds maintenance, cleaning and caretaking of council buildings and parks and gardening services. 

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said: “Harlow council is hiding behind HTS to keep these outsourced workers on unfair wages and has sent the company to negotiate in bad faith. HTS’ management can hardly even make a pretence at engaging in talks at Acas because Harlow council controls the firm’s purse strings. Harlow council can afford to put forward an acceptable offer and that’s what needs to happen.”


For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

Email: [email protected]

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