Amey maintenance staff working in area 8 plan to take the first in a series of planned 24 hours of strike action tomorrow (13 February) in a dispute over pay and contracts.
They are being backed by Britain’s biggest union, Unite, in their bid to win a fair deal on pay. Employees from four depots in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Buckinghamshire will be involved.
The dispute is over a pay offer from Amey of 1.75% and what Unite claims is an attempt to dismantle long established collective bargaining agreements.
Unite say these arrangements had been working well under Carillion before they were Tupe transferred (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) over to Amey in April 2014.
The Highways Agency awarded Amey a £200m deal to maintain and improve motorways and major A roads in parts of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire (area 8) in 2013.
Unite is calling for a five per cent pay increase and has urged Amey to get back around the negotiating table in a bid to find a reasonable settlement that addresses members’ concerns over pay and the undermining of the bargaining group.
Richard Gates, Unite regional officer, said: “This is a company which manages over 30,000 miles of local highways across the UK, gritting roads and maintaining crash barriers. The work our members do is fundamental to safety on the roads and their pay and conditions surely must reflect that reality.
“Amey talks of the need for ‘safe well-functioning road networks’ but a good starting point would be acting in a responsible and professional manner towards its employees.
“Unite members have no wish to take strike action but are being forced to do so by a company unwilling to listen, much less address their concerns.
“Seventy-four per cent of our members backed this strike on the back of a 100 per cent turnout; our resolve is strong. More walkouts will follow unless Amey starts talking.”
A spokesperson for Amey said: “Despite our significant efforts to resolve the current industrial dispute we are disappointed that strike action is planned. We have robust contingencies in place and do not anticipate any impact on our highways management and maintenance services. We will continue to work with Unite and our employees, and we are committed to reaching a fair and satisfactory outcome for all.”
Unite members are planning 24 hour strike action from 6am on Friday 13 February, again from 6am Monday 16 February, then on Friday 20 February at 6am, and finally on Monday 23 February at 6am.