Striking Mears repairs and maintenance workers in Manchester will demonstrate outside Northwards Housing’s headquarters today, urging the organisation to intervene in a pay dispute.
Members of the Unite union are employed by Mears and its joint venture company Manchester Working on social housing repairs and maintenance contracts throughout the city.
They are on strike for the fourth day in a row over disparities in pay between workers doing the same job, which the union claims can be as much as £3,500.
The strike began earlier this month, with rolling strike days on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays of each week.
According to Unite, the workers are calling on the union to intervene in the dispute and ‘bang heads’ together by holding today’s demonstration outside Northwards’ headquarters.
“Northwards Housing is responsible for letting the contracts and has a moral obligation to intervene and ensure that the pay differentials between Mears and Manchester Working are closed.” “Northwards cannot stand by while exploitation and injustice occur on their contracts,” said Gary Fairclough, regional officer for Unite.
“The demonstration will ensure that Northwards bosses can no longer pretend they don’t know what’s going on with their contract and ignore the workforce’s anger and frustration.” Our members do not take strike action lightly, and the magnitude of this dispute demonstrates their rage.”
Mears said in a statement issued after the rolling strike began that it had made every effort to resolve the dispute. “In November last year, Unite and UCATT rejected our offer to increase pay by 8% – an average increase of £1,800 per employee – as well as our offer to eliminate all differentials within trade categories,” Mears said in a statement.
On behalf of the city council, Northwards Housing, an ALMO, manages approximately 13,000 homes in north Manchester.
A senior management spokesperson for Northwards Housing stated in a statement that the organisation cannot comment on the specifics of the dispute, which is between Mears and its workforce.
“Of course, we are aware of the dispute, but Northwards Housing has no legal right to intervene in the labour relations of a private company,” the spokesperson said.
“The union’s claim that ‘Northwards Housing is responsible for contract letting’ is incorrect. When the previous contract expired, Manchester City Council led the reprocurement, which was carried out in strict accordance with legally binding EU regulations.
“We are hopeful that Mears will be able to resolve its workforce issues quickly.” Meanwhile, we are working with our contractor to ensure that our residents are inconvenienced as little as possible.”