UNISON MEMBERS IN HULL have raised numerous concerns for years about the disparity in sick pay offered by their employer, the Spanish-based multinational, FCC Environmental, which operates a waste transfer plant. For them the issue is one of fairness: if you’re a manager you get full sick pay from day one of absence, while for them there’s a mixture of schemes, but all of them are worse.
Now anger has boiled over and members have gone on strike. FCC is a multi-million pound company that has posted record profits in no small measure from outsourced public service contracts. Our members were offered a 2.5% pay rise, but FCC had excluded those workers already on the ‘living wage’, clearly determined to remain a poverty pay employer.
The members struck for a week from 28th February and not one council worker from Hull or the East Riding crossed their picket line. The messages of solidarity from workers and the public were inspirational, while local Labour MP Emma Hardy paid a visit to a wintry picket line.
These workers are in a David v Goliath situation, with bullying and intimidation from the firm, but the provocative behaviour of FCC management has only strengthened their resolve. This strike is about something simple: a decent living wage and what should be a basic human right to occupational sick pay. The message from our branch to public sector organisations that award contracts to companies like this is also simple: it’s time they were brought back in-house.
Our members will be out again, possibly indefinitely, in a few weeks if FCC does not engage in serious talks, and so far they have not.
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branch secretary, Hull City Unison