Grounds maintenance workers employed by Continental Landscapes on the outsourced Welwyn and Hatfield council grounds maintenance contract are to continue with strike action in a dispute over poverty pay.

The workers have already taken eight weeks of strike action since the dispute began in November last year.

Fortnight of strikes

A further fortnight of industrial action has now been announced, with an initial five days of strike action beginning on Monday 30 January and a further five days from Monday 6 February.

The workers are responsible for all of the Welwyn Hatfield council’s garden maintenance work, including grass cutting, hedge trimming, pruning and bulb planting. The workers have been offered a pay increase in line with their claim, but with conditions attached such as moving to annualised hours, and no further pay increase until late 2024, which were not acceptable to Unite’s members.

Integral role

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members at Continental Landscapes play an integral part in keeping Welwyn and Hatfield clean and tidy. It is entirely unacceptable that the employer thinks it can get away with paying poverty rates of pay.

“Unite is totally dedicated to defending and improving our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and our members at Continental Landscapes will continue to receive the union’s unflinching support.”

Agency worker concerns

In addition to the pay dispute, the workforce has a longstanding grievance concerning agency workers. When the agency workers are recruited for the summer months, the core workforce is expected to train them, however the agency workers then receive a higher rate of pay. Moreover, there are no pay differentials for employees who hold additional skills and responsibilities within the workforce. Despite promises to look at these matters they remain unresolved.

Low pay

Unite regional officer Richard Gates said: “Pay rates are so low that members are struggling to survive financially and the cost of living crisis is making it impossible to keep their heads above water.

“The industrial action is having an adverse effect on the upkeep of Welwyn and Hatfield but this dispute is entirely of Continental Landscapes own making. It has had every opportunity to resolve this dispute but has singularly failed to do so.”


Notes to editors:

Welwyn and Hatfield grounds maintenance workers strike over poverty pay rates

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

Email: [email protected]

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.