HTS pay strikes in Harlow to continue over May say union

News / Thu 20th Apr 2023 at 07:19am

PAY strikes by over 300 low paid staff responsible for Harlow council’s housing stock and the cleaning and maintenance of council grounds and buildings will continue into May, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Wednesday). 

The workers, most of who earn less than £12 per hour, began strike action in late February and are employed by HTS, which is wholly owned by Harlow district council with a board of directors made up of councillors. They are striking because “their outsourced employment arrangements mean they are paid less than workers doing the same jobs at other local authorities. Many of the workers are using foodbanks to get by”. 

HTS’ staff are demanding a cost-of-living payment and for their pay bands to be re-graded so they are brought up to local authority standards. The council is refusing to negotiate, despite its latest financial report recording assets of £63 million on 31 March 2022, an increase of £19 million from the year before. During the year ending March 2023, Harlow council paid its 33 elected councillors a total of £202,065 in allowances say the unions.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “HTS is Harlow council’s company and this dispute is the council’s responsibility. HTS’ staff are receiving substandard pay from a council that is ripping workers off by outsourcing jobs. Unite will not stand for attacks on our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and HTS’ workforce have their union’s absolute support in their fight for a fair wage.”

The next strikes will take place on 24, 25, 27 and 28 April. Fresh strikes have also been scheduled for 2, 3 and 4 May, with industrial action set to intensify if the dispute is not resolved. 

The strikes have severely disrupted housing repairs and maintenance, street cleaning, grounds maintenance, cleaning and caretaking of council buildings and parks and gardening services. 

Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab said: “Harlow council’s deliberate and needless curbing of HTS’ workers’ wages is the ugly face of outsourcing. Its councillors know the council’s finances are healthy or they would not be spending more than £200,000 a year on allowances. Unite will not let Harlow council hide behind HTS so it can underpay staff and leave them to struggle during a cost of living crisis. It needs to take responsibility for the mess it has created.”  

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3 Comments for HTS pay strikes in Harlow to continue over May say union:

David Forman
2023-04-20 08:32:39

Pay HTS workers a decent wage that they can raise a family on. HTS workers and their union Unite have my full support.

2023-04-20 09:48:17

I am not a robot on these comments. HTS make me so angry that goes for Harlow Council too. Neither of these two so called companies & the employees do a lot any way apart from making Harlow Town what it is today, that being a complete gutter also true or it wouldn't be like it is right now. So why on earth are the people running it & supposedly working it still doing so. HTS has very few people that REALLY work & do their job well where as the majority of the rest want a big wage packet at end of month for doing nothing at all apart from sitting in their van around Harlow hiding in corners of carparks having a kip, pacing up & down on their phones or having very extended lunch hours just after their breakfast break down the cafe & before you know their down tools to clock out. Why strike when your doing that every working day anyway. You basically want paying for doing jack s..t !!! So many times they have been seen gathering together just wasting time doing nothing . I myself have seen & watched them for years & how the contents of the day pans out, when I'm out & about even from my own home when they gather in our streets. It's like the saying goes how many men does it take to change a light bulb!!! As for saying delays on housing repairs & maintenance, street cleaning?!! Ground maintenance ( now there you have got to be having a laugh) garden services etc. NO CHANGE THERE THEN As not a lot of all that gets done anyway very often. We are all struggling in this world at the moment whether working or not so what makes HTS any different as for the council they are just another group of people taking the money from the public wasting it on stupid ideas or filling their own fat pockets with big wages & fat bonuses. Full of words but broken promises So whilst these idiots on both sides are argueing between them YET again like every one else in this world about MONEY how the hell are we all going to get this Town back together again. MONEY is the root of all evil & that's just how it's become in all of our life's & this started with petrol diesel, energy companies supermarkets rising the cost of living so high yet HTS want money for doing next to nothing WOW & HARLOW COUNCIL who doesn't really know how to run things except jump on the band wagon & be another company making life even more difficult.

But they do a rubbish job?
2023-04-20 11:54:56

Hopefully if they start getting paid properly they will do a proper job!! You get what you pay for. Support the strikers!

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