Council workers strike over plans to slash pay by a third

Nearly 150 workers employed by Greenwich council returned to the picket line for two days of strike action this week after the local authority brought in plans that would see them lose nearly a third of their wages.

The workers, who are members of Unite the Union, are employed within the repairs and investment service department at Greenwich council.

The council says it has done a “pay benchmarking exercise” and will reduce the workers’ wages. 

The cuts, which would be enacted in stages over four years, will see some workers lose nearly £17,000 from their salary by the fourth year.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We’ve reviewed the wage structure of some repair staff who, in some cases, due to a complicated and historic bonus arrangement, have salaries well above industry average.”

More than 140 workers have already taken strike action in May and are on strike again today and tomorrow outside the Birchmere Centre, Eastern Way, Thamesmead.

Workers have also taken part in demonstrations outside Woolwich Town Hall.  

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Greenwich council’s plans are a brutal and unjustified attack on our members’ living standards. Many will be left unable to fulfil their financial obligations such as paying their mortgages and rent. Others will be forced into debt.”

Housing repairs across the borough will be delayed and disrupted due to the walkout. Strike action will escalate if the dispute is not resolved.

A spokeswoman from Greenwich council said: “After 13 years of government austerity, the council’s budget has been cut to the bone and we owe it to our residents to regularly assess how we can best deliver for our communities. 

“Following months of dialogue, we proposed a new structure. Unfortunately, at a point where we felt negotiations were nearing a reasonable resolution, we were met with a last-minute rejection and counter offer of a £60,000 lump sum per employee, on top of above average wages.

“This offer is unreasonable, unaffordable and frankly unrealistic – and unfair on staff who have engaged in productive conversations to this point and deserve clarity.”

Pictured top: Unite members outside the Birchmere Centre (Picture: Unite the Union)

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