Three academy school cleaners who’s council jobs were privatised are taking indefinite strike action after bosses slashed their pay to the minimum wage. The cleaners (the Kinsley 3) commenced indefinite strike action on 6 September.
The staff work at Kinsley Academy Primary near Wakefield are members of Wakefield District UNISON. They were employed by Wakefield Council before academy bosses transferred their jobs to contractor C&D cleaning Series in April. Kinsley Primary Academy is run by Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT).
The privateer cut their pay by 65p per hour to the statutory minimum wage of £7.20 per hour and also abolished sick pay.
After being challenged on the issue by UNISON, the firms head of human resources Nick Thorpe responded with an offensive letter dismissing UNISON’s approach. He wrote: “We do not require your input, opinion or indeed assistance in any shape or form, therefore I do not expect to hear from you again.”
UNISON Branch Development Officer Sharon Simpson had written to the firm reminding bosses of worker’s writes under transfer of undertakings – protection of employment (TUPE) legislation.
Mr Thorpe wrote: “We do not recognise you or your organisation and subsequently we will not be entering into any form of dialogue with you in relation to our employees.”
Referring to UNISON’s determination to continue representing workers who’s jobs were transferred to the private sector, he said “I understand from the above the impact for you as an organisation when members realise that we are no longer living in the 1980’s and they question the actual value of union membership when you have no say, power or influence over their employer”.
“I also understand that by your very nature you make your living justifying your means out of recalcitrant behaviour and churlish threats, I would therefore politely remind you that sweeping statements and allegations based purely on conjecture [sic] will be dealt with accordingly”
UNISON is in dispute with the firm and is taking the case to an employment tribunal.
UNISON organiser Robin Symonds said the company’s emails were “very insightful.” The union will take the cleaners case to the employment tribunal, their strike runs indefinitely.
We do not believe C&D Cleaning are fit to hold any school cleaning contracts due to the way they treat their employees.
We call upon the WCAT Board to relieve C&D Cleaning of the contract and take the cleaning contract in-house or award it to a reasonable employer.
We ask that as many members as possible sign the our petition demanding that WCAT take action to resolve this dispute. The petition can be found by following this link:
Anyone wishing to send any messages of support of financial contributions to support the members through their strike action can send them directly to the branch office.