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Unite steps up Mears strike

Unite steps up action in Mears Manchester housing dispute


Unite, the UK’s largest union, is stepping up the pressure in an increasingly bitter dispute with private contractor Mears and joint venture company Manchester Working in a dispute concerning pay differentials and attacks on conditions reported before on this website.

The 170 plus housing maintenance workers took their fourteenth day of strike action on Friday 23 June by holding a demonstration outside the offices of Northward Housing Association, the north Manchester based housing association who they are contracted to undertake work for - pictured.

The dispute concerns longstanding problems of pay differentials at the organisations, which results in workers being paid up to £3,500 less than colleagues who undertake the same work.

The demonstrators are targeting the Northward housing offices which manages the properties on which the workers undertake maintenance and refurbishment work. Despite repeated calls for Northward to intervene it has refused to get involved in the dispute and indicated ‘it is not their problem’.

During the demonstration protesters unveiled their latest banner which reads: ‘Northward & Mears = poverty and tears’.

Added to the pay differential issue the dispute also concerns attacks on terms and conditions of the Mears’ workforce. The company is seeking to introduce a new contract which increases hours, introduces flexible working and requires the greater use of technology.

Mears is also seeking to introduce a ‘productivity procedure’ which has been described as a ‘sackers charter’ as well as pressurising its workforce to accept poorer conditions regarding sick pay and vehicle policies.

Andy Fisher, Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer, said: “It is scandalous that even after 14 days of strike action Northward continues to pretend the strikes are not happening and the dispute has nothing to do with them.

“Northward’s failure to intervene and demand a resolution means that its tenants are suffering unnecessarily. Urgent repairs are being delayed and there is a growing backlog of refurbishment work, which will only increase as the dispute continues.

“This demonstration is just the beginning of Unite stepping up its campaign to place further pressure on Mears and to ensure that no one regionally, industrially or nationally can have any doubt of the appalling way this company treats it workforce.

“If Mears had any sense of moral decency it would be keen to enter into negotiations to resolve this injustice once and for all. Currently the silence from the company is deafening.”

The workers are on a rolling programme of strikes with walkouts occurring on Monday, Thursday and Friday.  Unite LE1111 has sent solidarity to the strikers and pledged support.



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