Over 100 housing maintenance workers employed by Chesterfield council will begin strike action next week in a dispute over pay.


Strikes called


The workers who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, will take strike action next week on Tuesday 29 August and Wednesday 30 August.


The dispute is a result of the workers not having received a pay rise for 15 years.


15 year pay freeze


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is outrageous that our members have been denied a pay increase for 15 years and it is astonishing that when Chesterfield council was presented with the facts it refused to do anything about it.


“Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first. The workers at Chesterfield council will receive the union’s complete support.”


Council at fault


The problem came to light during the Covid pandemic when the workers, who are responsible for maintaining and repairing Chesterfield’s council housing stock, were transferred from being paid via a combination of a basic wage and on piece work (see notes to editors for details) to a salary scheme. During this time, they received several standard local government pay increases, in line with other council workers.


On investigation the workers discovered that their contracts stated they should receive both a salary (including annual pay increases) and then additional payments based on the work undertaken (piece work). However, Chesterfield council wants to return to the previous system where any increase in the basic pay (such as an annual pay increase) is offset by a reduction in the money they received for their piece work, resulting in the workers not receiving a pay increase.


The piece work rates have not been increased since 2008. The workers estimate that the piece work rates are 70 per cent below market value and they are having to work three times as hard to earn a decent living.


Delays in repairs


Unite regional officer Paula Stephens said: “The strike action will inevitably result in delays to repairs and maintenance to tenants’ homes and emergency call outs won’t be answered. But this dispute is entirely of Chesterfield council’s own making. It has had every opportunity to resolve this dispute through negotiation, but it has failed to do so.”


Wider strike action


The Chesterfield strike is part of a wider local authority dispute over pay, Unite has industrial action mandates for 23 councils across England and Wales. The union has rejected this year’s local government pay offer of £1,925 as it amounts to a real terms pay cut.





Notes to editors


Piece work – When workers undertake piece work they are not paid an hourly rate but are paid a fixed price for undertaking that specific piece of work.


For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications advisor Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235.


Email: [email protected]


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


Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.